A consistent theme throughout my post-divorce writing is the joy, revelation, and tension between the past and the present. The granola post probably captures the idea, and the joy of it, most clearly. The tension and the revelation are, I think, more diffuse. In my experience, they sneak up on me; the moments of the most joy and revelation in the present made more so by their inevitable contrast to the past. Moving through this past weekend, chronicling it with pictures that deliberately avoid faces, recovering from the bouts of laughter that left me breathless, I planned a joyful, celebratory post about the impromptu first party in my home, about old friendships, about bringing together old and new friends. Perhaps this post is still that, there is still joy and celebration, but all of that now exists in the contrast.
Knowing I would have to return Advice Monkey to the airport on Sunday, I figured I would take the opportunity to see friends who live in the area. Since Advice Monkey and I had dinner with Dr. and Mr. Revolution when she arrived on Thursday evening, I figured I would head west to see the Freelance Researcher. F. R. has visited me several times since I moved back – coming down for my birthday, coming again in the fall to cook for me, and helping me pick up my new table. I was in the area and knew I owed her a visit. Given that she lives about four blocks from my old house in that town, I didn’t even need GPS to get me there. What I could have used was some kind of insight to prepare me for my reaction driving into my old neighborhood. The pit in my stomach started at the exit from the highway and by the time I made a right, instead of a left, on the street that connected our houses I had to take a couple of deep breaths to focus and not burst into tears. Before leaving I acknowledged to F. R. that being back in town was harder than I anticipated and that I planned to ignore any inclination to drive by the old house, so I really wasn’t prepared for how much harder the drive out of town hit me. I managed not to cry, but only because as soon as I hit the highway I called Amie volée to chat. I’d spent the entire weekend distracting myself and I figured it was a good time to continue the process.
In fact, I inadvertently threw an unofficial house warming party just to make sure I was thoroughly distracted. Poor Advice Monkey came down expecting a girls weekend with an old friend only to be consistently thrown into social situations with new people.
Dinner after her arrival with the Revolutions, and a dinner party Saturday night with Amie volée and Mr. Volé and He Who Shall Be Named Later. In my mind the only thing that kept Saturday from being an official house warming was the presence of someone from the Greensboro contingent of friends. Dr. Phoenix, Ouiser, Mags, or Dr. Counselor (Who is getting yet another pseudonym because I can never remember what the last one was…this one seems to fit better than the others though maybe it will stick). The weather in Greensboro was not great, though, and I was already at capacity for chairs, and dishware. Of course this does mean I will have to have a real housewarming at some point, and after this weekend I am okay with this. The night I met Amie volée I was reminded of how much I enjoyed small parties and meeting new people and this weekend I was reminded how much I enjoy hosting a party: putting together the play list, getting everything ready, the forgotten thing that turns out perfectly, half listening to the conversation and laughter at the table as I get dinner ready.
Given how much teasing and laughter we had at expense, we all owe HWSBNL a drink …
or six. I do think a good time was had by all though and I was once again cognizant of the melding of my pre-marriage life with my post-marriage life, of remembering who I was and rediscovering who I am.
In Strangers to Ourselves Julia Kristeva describes the foreigner, both the literal immigrant and the way in which we are all a bit foreign to each other and ourselves. She describes different types of foreigners, the situations in which they find themselves, and the feelings they invoke in us. Of the foreinger, who survives but carries a constant longing and sorrow for his homeland, Kristeva says, “Melancholy lover of a vanished space, he cannot, in fact, get over his having abandoned a period of time.” Driving through town to visit F. R., it wasn’t the space I missed that put a pit in my stomach. I am back here. I can visit the space and places I loved whenever I want. Increasingly though, as I make the connections between the past and present, rediscover who I was and make her into who I am becoming, I am choosing to abandon a period of time and for all the joy I gain welcoming new friends and old into my life, there will also always be that bit of melancholy.