My first baby son Nevada was born on May 18 and died ten weeks later. This is the space of time when his memory for me is especially primal and vivid, experienced on multiple levels. It's tough to explain.
The worst years of my life (in order) would be the year following Nevada's death and then the year following my separation (and, in a distant third, the year of junior high. For is junior high not hell?). What amazes me is that, when I was actually going through these experiences, I thought I was coping just fine. And it's not that I'm not strong and resilient -- if there's one thing I can comfortably say, I am as resilient as hell -- but that the mind has some fierce protective mechanisms, including the ability to deny the depth of what you're feeling.
Now that my life is on solid ground again, the real emotions start to surface. I can allow myself to feel the grief and sadness and anger. Someone once described anger as "hurt pulled inside out" and there is truth to that.
I can also admit to love.
The other morning I was sitting at an outside table at Urth Cafe in Santa Monica with Dude. He was reading the newspaper and I was reading a book called THE HERO WITHIN by Carol S Pearson about archetypes (I have become fascinated with archetypes and how you can tap into that mythic power in your personal life, your creative work, even your social media marketing and branding). And I felt a great sense of contentment, well-being -- a.k.a. 'happy'.
It also reminded me that the happiest moments of my marriage took place in the earlier years, on the Saturday and Sunday mornings when E and I went to the bookstore, then took our purchases to a cafe and read over coffee and just hung out. Somewhere along the line we stopped doing that. Hindsight tells me that our marriage suffered for it. But the ironic thing is, for all the glamour and adventure of the jetset lifestyle, when I think about happiness with him I don't remember the south of France or St Barts or the Google dude's wedding on Richard Branson's private island (in fact, we had wicked fights and I sounded some true depths of misery at all those places). I think about lazily strolling down University Avenue in Palo Alto, our arms around each other's waists, in the sunlight.
So now I am lucky enough to have that again -- with someone else. Which reminds me of the T.S. Eliot quote -- "We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time."
When you first come to Los Angeles, you're completely disoriented: you think it's this massive urban sprawl scattered with palm trees divided by mountains that all looks the same. Spend more time here and you start to recognize it as a group of villages, each with its own personality, tied together with ropes of highway.
The first time Dude and I went to brunch was in Beverly Hills. "Everybody here," he said, looking around, "is so groomed."
When we went to brunch in Venice some weeks later, I saw what he meant. Everybody there had this cool, rumpled, disheveled thing going on. ("And you," he reminisced later, "were in a full-on outfit." Yeah, well, habits die hard, although I was glad to let that one go.)
My new house puts me west of the 405 and out of Bel Air. I was meeting with inspectors and general contractors at the property and then driving the long sloping streets down to Sunset. My first impressions:
1. I will no longer be risking my neck on a daily basis (or scratching up my car) on the blind turns and narrow winding pothole-filled tourist-bus-crawling, sportscar-dive-bombing roads of Bel Air, and
2. Throw a rock and you hit about fifteen yoga studios.
These are not bad things.