August 25th is my ex-anniversary. I spent the evening looking through old pictures and thinking and rethinking and adjusting and readjusting my thoughts. I realized through this process that photobooth is a treasure trove of mundane family moments. Especially for a mother. Being alone with children does not lend itself to photographs that actually have you in them. Always behind the scenes directing, adjusting, barking orders, keeping the peace. Since photobooth is tied to a computer the setting is almost always at home. The scene is almost always the living room. The actors are almost always the mother, her children. An attempt to capture a feeling. An attempt to break up long, impossibly endless days. An attempt to see a long forgotten identity reflected back at oneself for even a millisecond. And sometimes an attempt to capture a pretend scenario, characters in some badly written sitcom. The happy family. The OK family.
Seeing all of these brought back a flood of laughter and maybe a tear and definitely a deep feeling of triumph. I feel satiated. I made it though all of this. My children made it through all of this. There are seven years documented here, four houses, three neighborhoods, three cars, a college degree start to finish, a blossoming career, five lives, the birth of two humans, girls girls girls, daydreams, the rejection of motherhood, the feeling that it was too heavy a burden to bear. Heart strings cut up and buried and resurrected with blood and sweat and tears, on repeat. The inevitable collapse of a family unit, the establishment of a new partnership. The release of resentment. New feelings. Love lost, love found. New boundaries, new therapists, old friends, old faiths. New relationships. New dreams, fresh hope. The bitter moments of exhaustion and dread and panic washed away time and time again. Seasons churning and changing, new sunrises, new places, new people.
Good god. It’s all so much. So much good. So much bad. I remember every single one of these frozen pieces of time with such detail. I can taste them, I can hear them, I can smell the burning toast in the kitchen. I can see the thoughts on my face, blaring like neon. I can see when I was clinging to the edges of sanity, wading though deep depression, content, mentally stimulated, trying to be thinner, not giving a fuck. I can see it all. I remember it all. And even with the current that runs though me, connecting this me to that one, I sit here alone and OK. OK is a tangible thing after all maybe. As thick and comforting as a terry cloth bathrobe, enveloping me and them and the rest of it. Warm and sweet. Camomile, kisses, an outstretched hand in the darkness.
We are OK. We will be OK. It’s all OK. Like she said, he said, they all said. Chest pain, deep breaths. A sigh at last.
Here’s to the mother flipping future, man. I’m excited.