Not working for several weeks and quarantined, I wandered into the remote corners of my mind the way you might a bad neighborhood after dark. I grew obsessive about the leaves, raking and mulching, picking them up by hand. I discovered the hidden grace of our garage, mounting the red heat lamp from the chicken coop…wondering if it would hatch ideas if I sat under it too. Or heading out on the trail to parts of the park I hadn’t been to in years, the outer edges. Coming upon a play area like we’d take the kids when they were young and didn’t have a say in what we did. The past is in us but disappears like dead leaves underfoot.
Daylight is a slow uphill climb this time of year and a vague reward once we get there. I try to take the long view and be grateful for this time we’re spending together as a family but it’s not what the kids actually want or need, they need to be away with their friends. I yo-yo around the yard occupying myself, for the soul needs a reminder that there’s more beyond itself. And if the soul is elastic, will the stretch marks show when all of this is over?
Somehow we’d find a way to romanticize this time even. The Sunday drives, the random trips to the Dairy Queen. And though I had so much of it, I honestly can’t say how I used all that time I had unemployed, it just flowed right through me. Without ceremony I turned 50, and the past grew bigger as the future narrowed to a smaller frame, mine for the making.