I can’t seem to catch my breath; I collapse at night. While never exactly remembering sleeping before, the experience has always been tangible, as if I could reach backwards into the night just past and almost touch the place I had been. Now I fall into darkness and morning rushes towards me with no understanding of the in-between, of where I’ve just come from, so my days feel like an old torn screen on an cabin’s backdoor, eyes open at points with black holes I disappear into when they close.
Coffee. Breakfast. Pack lunch. School clothes. Bookbag. Car. Metro. Walk. Look for apartments. Study. Back to school. Walk. Bus. Walk. Cook dinner. Plan breakfast. Plan lunch. Laundry. Out.
But it’s more than that.
One of the things I have written about is how lonely the life of a traveling ex-pat can be. One of things I did not realize is how comforting loneliness can be. Having moved our daughter to an English International school, I am forced to converse, spinning in every direction with hello’s and hi’s and how are you this morning. I am opened up and dissected and expected to do the same in return. At first it felt wonderful to share in the language I rest in, but that rest quickly turned to exhaustion, and I now wonder if my true language, the one I feel most at home with, is silence, the place I grew up in.
There is a wonderful book, a collection of stories, called Only Child. Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing up Solo. Alissa Quart, in her story ‘The Hotline’ writes,
“As an only child, I learned early…that basic transformation was impossible–I would always be the single child, watching the shadows the bookshelves made on the ceiling from reflected streetlights, a gloomy lattice of Culture–and that special solitude could not be changed.”
This life fits me. Moving and surrendering into a three, where one is easily found. Outside the door though is becoming another story.