I woke up on the Christmas tree farm in a jet-lag haze, emotional to be once again in that bed that had held me during the most difficult of times. In lifting the blinds (I have to stand on the chair to make them stick, wobbly), I saw frost on the grass, orange early sun glistening and my Sister's car churning to warm up under a Michigan winter.
So, I hadn't yet missed her, she still hadn't left to teach her classes. She works so very hard, Robin. My Dad would have been so proud. I am too.
The staircase in the farmhouse is steep and so I gripped onto the polished wood railing while running down the stairs to try and catch her in my ski-socks feet. Through the living room, past Sweetie and Lucy, the dogs that I am so delighted to see again (and relieved, for neither are spring chickens), sliding across the kitchen floor and with a bang of the screen door behind me, I catch her. She looks at me with surprise.
"Have a great day!! I love you Sister!!" She is already getting into the car, she has to go but she is smiling and shouting back to me quick wishes in return. I know that she is really happy that I am home. And because my love for her is over-flowing and I want to make her laugh, or maybe because it is really, really cold out and I am in my pyjamas, I start to bounce around like I am on a pogo stick. Boing, boing, boing, boing. Hair flying, my breath in tendrils in the air as I am laughing. And then she has driven off to start her day.
I have countless such examples in my head, my heart, from my visit to see my beautiful family.
You know, I don't want to say something along the lines of, "this love is always there," - even though it is - because I struggle too. And it is to the motion of that struggle - the flip side of the coin of my bouncing - that I want to say, "wait. No really, wait." For now back in France, even newly returned from being so loved, I have woken up quite differently, twice in tears this week alone with exhaustion from my current job and longing for the creativity that makes me sing loud songs of freedom. I look at the professional camera body that I bought in the States that I haven't yet touched - the biggest purchase of my life - with something edging towards bitterness, for which I sound the alarms.
"Wait. No really, wait." Because, can I be brave enough to turn the question that has been burning inside me into a statement? This one, the main theme calling to me...
It doesn't have to be this hard.
Since I decided to try and stay in France, I have experienced much, little of it simple. "You are a warrior, " someone said to me recently. It isn't the first time I have been told so. But I don't wish to be a warrior anymore. I lay down my arms.
I had to go back to the old house the other day, my Ex welcomed me smilingly. He has grown so much in his new relationship, it is quite something to see. It was shocking when he opened the gate, for it was the Dday of pruning both the massive olive and magnolia trees that shadowed over our lives for years. A mountain of twisted branches and blackened olives slippery underfoot. Kipling, my crazy amazing dog that I had not seen since last September (we won't go into that now) covered me with kisses. And he is not the kissing kind.
There was light, and there was...there is...room for joy.