Today was like most other days, but I woke up earlier than usual. It was lovely.
I took a nice slow shower, blew my hair dry, ate breakfast slowly. A slow, happy morning affected the whole rest of my day.
I had lunch at the college with Heather (Rowan is out of town with her dad, who is having minor surgery.) I told her about a recent email I got from an estranged old friend, letting me know the friend, who is adopted, looks like she might have found her birth mother.
I realized this week, as I thought long and slow about what to say to this estranged friend, that a few years ago I started a completely new life. I moved to a new town, reinvented myself as a first-time college student, and lost the two friends who walked through life with me for two decades, not to death but to change.
I told Heather that I had friends now who did not make plans with me and then constantly cancel or not show up, who did not lie and mislead me, who lead lives of self-betterment and the desire to serve, and who, strange as it still feels at times, consistently treat me with respect and love.
Heather got a little teary-eyed and said that she would love me just the same no matter what I did, and I told her I felt the same way about her. (Don’t move to Georgia! My heart was yelling. Please, friend, I know that life is calling you, but I wish you would stay here with me. My heart is better at saying these things than I am.)
I drove from school to the post office and mailed my new-hire paperwork to the distant kingdom of Washington State, where I will soon be on the freelance rolls of a global marketing corporation.
I love this new life. I love my Ran and my Lala and my birthday party Lala threw for me last year. I like my old teacher who still remembers my name a year after I was his student. I like my kind professor who chased me down the hall today, smiling, to give me back the winter cap I had accidentally left on his desk.
I like this life of learning. I like this life of people who are good to me and understand me.
In this new life, my Latin class is full of my people, the nerds, because Spanish is for the lazy-minded, French is for romantics, and Latin, it seems, is for nerds.
In this new life, I’ve promised Heather that when the weather gets sunny and warm we will sit with a pitcher of lemonade in the park and knit big string bags to put our groceries in.
In this new life, next month is Rowan and Greg’s next big comedy show, the next step on their ladder to becoming Asheville’s comedy kingpins. Next month is also my birthday. I will be 39.
Every so often I stop coloring my hair (I color it a shade darker, and to cover the gray that started when I was 24). I am doing so now. It’s grayer than it’s ever been. I’ve got the beginnings of a real live gray streak just to the right of my widow’s peak, and the sides are becoming salty-peppery wings like Paulie Walnuts’.
My face looks young, but my hair is easily 20 years ahead of it.
My hair is going gray, but today I am not too old for rebirth.
To my dear lost friend who brought good news of her birth mother, I said No. I said We are not friends anymore, so it’s not my place to follow this journey you choose to share with me five years after you exited my life without explanation.
When things are over and done for good reason, they should remain so.
All day today I think maybe I have known what a very amicable but very final divorce can feel like. It is neither happy nor sad, but has an indescribable emotional richness where a million conflicting emotions and experiences seem to blur into the last thing you expected: peace of mind. You just feel finished.
In this new life, I emailed my old friend with my answer and then sat down to study for my first exam of the new semester. And there it was through my dining room window.
A white fingernail rind in the blue night sky. An ethereal slip of a Cheshire-cat smile.
It was in keeping with this extraordinary ordinary day to sit down at a tableful of textbooks and see at my window the bright new moon.