In my mind, our series of difficult events stretches back four years or so to include our failed attempts to conceive, my sister in law Stephanie's attempted suicide, my miscarriage, Stephanie's later death, my job conditions worsening, my salary being cut, my job being cut, my lack of success at finding new employment, Geoff's church and his own personal piano being destroyed by arson. There were other, smaller difficulties, many of them tied up in these larger events, and many of which can't be explained well in a few words (although I guess maybe in a way they can: potty training a kid who was almost five, having a newborn who didn't sleep well for quite awhile, general depression and irritability, lack of hope about the future, an extremely bad financial situation caused in large part by keeping up with payments on a home that we never really loved, in a location we grew to really dislike), but really, when I look back on a certain period of time starting around 2006 or 2007 and stretching through mid-2010, I feel like it was A Very Hard Time.
And I don't know if it has worked this way for you, if you have gone through your own Very Hard Time (as I'm sure many of you have), but when you are in the midst of that Very Hard Time, every small setback or mistake or disappointment can feel like a part of the larger era of the Very Hard Time. Every small difficulty serves to bring back all of the negative emotions that you've had about every other larger difficulty. In other words, when you spill the milk all over the kitchen floor shortly after having mopped that floor, it just goes to show that your life sucks. When the dog steals the whole loaf of bread off of the kitchen counter and eats the whole thing, it means that you have been a fool for thinking that things will ever be any easier or better. When your GPS suddenly freezes up in the middle of your trip, refusing to start up again no matter what you try, it means that you were wrong to think that you could ever make a living doing something other than a lawyer, that you have wasted your life, that you are stupid and a failure at life, and that nobody who knows the real you actually loves you.
Ahem. Or something like that.
But the point I really want to make is that we are now in a new era, one that is not marked by difficulties and sadness, but - so far - mostly by the idea that we are in a New Beginning, facing countless possibilities. The new era didn't wait until we moved to Fort Wayne to start - there were signs of it once in awhile when I was taking pictures that I loved of people who might love them, too, and it really threatened to take hold when Geoff got a job offer for a full-time job which appeared to be a job he'd really love, working for and with people who would really appreciate and welcome him (it gained some more strength when the pastor of the church sent Geoff home from his interview with gifts for me and the girls, too, especially since my gift was the gift of delicious chocolates). But of course a move comes with its own difficulties and frustrations, and so even though the good days started to outweigh the bad ones, the tiny bad things still carried so much weight that it was hard to tell what was going on. The rest of the family, I think, handled it better than I did, but speaking for me - I had a tough transition.
I sat down to write this, though, because our condo in Chicago was supposed to close yesterday, and it did not. In fact, it appears that the would-be buyers will not be able to buy the condo at all, and as far as that goes, we might be back to square one. I sat down to write this because this development did not fell me. I did not rail against my lot in life. I did not berate myself for the mistakes inherent in every financial decision I've ever made in my life. I did not cry.
I was disappointed. I'm sorry that our neighbors (the would-be buyers, who we really like) won't get to own the entire two-condo building, and won't get to turn it back into a single family home. I am annoyed that our attorney hasn't gotten back to us about the lack of a closing at all, and I am not sure exactly what will happen next as far as our ownership of the condo.
But - and I think this might be the best way to put this - the disappointment didn't touch me. I am fine. I am ok. My life is full of goodness - people I love who love me, and so many creature comforts of home. It's almost Christmas, and the cats haven't destroyed our tree yet. I still have bad days, of course, when I cry over spilled milk, but I no longer feel like every spill signifies disaster and failure.
The girls are taking a bath together upstairs. I hear them splashing and talking and singing Jingle Bells, and every laugh of Katie's is followed by long seconds of Annabel's giggling. We have food in the house (including Christmas cookies and chocolate dipped candied orange peels). The lights in the den are twinkling away merrily. Last night Geoff and I went to a performance of The Nutcracker, courtesy of a very kind woman at the church who offered to buy us tickets, while the girls stayed home with Stephen, a favorite babysitter. Today the girls and I will make some more cookies, and Geoff and I will make lists of who and what we still need to shop for.
Who cares about that stupid condo, anyway?