Me, Myself and I

I’m sitting in our house in Rancho Navarro, a fire roaring in the woodstove in front of me, rain tapping on the roof over my head. It’s grey and foggy outside, though the green of the redwood trees surrounding our house holds strong. Frank, our terrier-mix rescue, snores gently on the sofa to my right. Other than Frank and the rain, I have the house to myself.

I drove up yesterday to spend a few days with my son, Jonah, and my granddaughters, Amelie and Poppy. They been away, so I hadn’t seen them in several weeks, and I missed them. Actually, beginning in March, I’ve been in a perpetual state of missing them. Covid put an end to our weekly date, when I picked them up after school, we ambled the several blocks to their house, and later prepared dinner together. I’ve been cooking with Amelie on Zoom, but you understand, that is no substitute.

I’ve never been alone in this house before. Stephen and I usually come together, loading three or four days worth of food and clothing into the car before we set out. But Amelia, Stephen’s daughter and my stepdaughter, is due to give birth to identical twins in a month, and she asked her dad to stay behind—just in case.

So I drove up solo, and spent yesterday afternoon with Jonah and the girls. This morning, we took a long walk, the four of us plus Leo, my four-month-old granddog. It’s beautiful here, and as we walked and talked, we enjoyed views of the green valley below us and the graceful hills on the far side of the valley. Whenever one of the girls lagged a bit behind, I seized the opportunity for a bit of private time and conversation. Amelie and I had a good talk about her missing her school friends and Poppy, who is seven, explained that the only animal she’s met but doesn’t love are rolly-polly bugs.

Then it started to rain, so we were forced to go off to our separate houses. Though on the same property, only half a football field apart, since Covid, our houses have felt completely separate. While we once flowed back and forth fluidly, we haven’t set foot in each other’s house for 11 months now.

I’m now alone in our house, writing this post and enjoying the warmth of the fire. When I finish, I’ll go back to my New Yorkers and my book. And I’m noticing how peaceful and full I feel. I’ve spent good time with my granddaughters and son, and I’m now spending good time with myself. For much of my life, I couldn’t have made that statement. It was difficult for me to be alone. I never felt like enough. Being alone posed the danger of following the winding road of regret and insecurity. Of recalling all the ways I had failed or lost out.

But today, I feel serenaded by the patter of the rain and embraced by the warmth of the fire. I appreciate watching my words appear on the screen I am balancing on my lap. I enjoy seeing myself speak. I feel cozy and full. I am enough.

I have Covid to thank for this discovery.

On the Streets of Berkeley

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