A couple of weeks ago, still reeling from the preschool thing, I went back and read some of my blog archives. I was sort of going back, looking to see how it used to be, and what had changed, I suppose. And it was striking: life is very different than it used to be, more than I think we've even acknowledged. We're cramped, we're hemmed in, we're off-balance.
So I talked to Rhys about it. I told her I'd been reading my archives and that it seemed like our lives now were so...and there I was grasping for words. She finished my sentence for me: "small," she said. Small. That's it. Our lives have become very small.
And it's true. We're living in a tiny space. We have minimal child care, so we don't go out. We go to work, we rush home, we shepherd people through rituals to bed, we watch TV, we discuss paint colors, we sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat. I suppose some of that is just grownup life, but it feels so very small right now. Things could be oh so much worse--life is good in many ways--but right now, it's small. Just that simple. It has been a while that I've been living in tight quarters--I was ready to take a break and go somewhere a little bit bigger, if only for a very short time. And Rhinebeck was it.
Rhinebeck is a big event for our small knitblog world. I like the way Laurie thinks about it--our motley tribe gathering at market to ally and trade and stock winter stores. I had 36 hours in which to participate. It wasn't enough. I was so starved for an outlet, a certain number of glasses of red wine caused me to burst into sudden tears and then to stay up until two hours before I had to get up and go home. It wasn't smart. But then again, I wouldn't have traded a single minute of it. There were too many people I barely saw for a moment (more than I can link in a single clause); a few I got to spend good time with and a few I connected with, but there wasn't enough time with anyone. (I missed too many people with those links: forgive me.)
Sunday morning was Not Good as I sat woozily at the breakfast table and tried to make coffee and yogurt signal my body that it wasn't two hours past bedtime. I was hopeless and useless and without a single prayer of any sort of adult functioning. And suddenly, in contrast to, I don't know, most of my life, there were people around me who were taking care of me. There was Marcy who was ready to drive me home on my schedule, even though she could have stayed. There was Kristen who went and got the fleece out of her car and brought it to me so I didn't have to make more movements than were absolutely necessary. (Kristen also had Excedrin. I love Kristen.) There was Cassie in the lobby with quiet words and a warm goodbye.
I have a kind and loving partner who takes wonderful care of me, it's true. But we have twins and jobs and a house renovation and someone needs to take care of her too, and I'm all too rarely up to the task. I didn't grow up expecting that if I was lagging, I'd have people there to lift me up. But Sunday morning, and Saturday night too, it just felt like there was this net of kindness below me; like there were people who were concerned about me, who wanted to help, who had stories and hope and warmth to share and who were funny and kind and real.
So if you saw me weeping in the inappropriate setting of a cocktail party, that's why. It's the support when you don't quite expect it, the kind words that come out of left field and the friend who tells you they admire how you do something you don't think you did very well at all, but maybe it's not so terrible. It's the surprising disclosures of personal sorrows, and the remembering of so many heartbreaks tucked into pockets and folds and brought tenderly and quietly into the light to show someone else she might not be completely alone. It's the sitting in a room making jokes and then with some shift of the air our humanity is uncovered and it's breathtaking and beautiful and deeply sad at the same time.
I feel like I've said all this before, and I have. It's just that it's gathering time again, and I'm storing up stocks for the winter.