When I woke up this morning I had four words on my lips: Transitions expose the cracks. With those words, so many things became clear. I have been thinking about transitions a lot as I pack our house in Missoula, dividing our possessions into: Goodwill / Garage Sale / Ship to London / Throw Away / Give to Friends / Pack in a Suitcase. There is nothing quite like moving house to renew a sense of what matters, what should be allowed to be fleeting, what needs to be held close and what needs to be completely let go.
And in that process, any weak link, any unprocessed anger, frustration, or bad feelings become raw and exposed. And this has been my story the past few weeks. All of us in my small family have been navigating the transitions. Some days it hasn’t gone so well. Other days, when we feel in sync, the process is a cake walk. ‘Moving house. What’s the big deal?’
Today while I was watching E at her final swimming lesson, I was reading Maggie Nelson’s ‘Argonauts’. If there were ever a book about transitions, it is this: “I told you I was sick of stories in the mainstream media told by comfortably cisgendered folks … expressing grief over the transitions of other … Where does it fit into the taxonomy of life crises when one person’s liberation is another’s loss?”
So there it is. Transition. It can be so many things simultaneously.
Apart from my musings on what these two years have meant to me, I keep coming back to the specifics. To the fact that our two years out of London involved coming to a specific town in a specific state populated by specific people. And this is when the tears come. As they did yesterday while I said goodbye to M and her daughter A on my front lawn with mount Sentinel at their backs. That was hard.
So here goes. I would like to thank all the people here who have let me into their lives, their struggles, their joys, their secrets. The friends who have ferried E across town, patiently not making me feel like an idiot for not knowing how to drive a car. To all the people who have fed us, poured us glasses of wine and bought us beers and cocktails in bars. To my friend B who now has my Yoga mat and can keep me up to date on Aladdin and his Persian carpet as he gives tips on ‘extensions’ to all the pretty girls in class. To the writers here who have read my work and allowed me to read theirs. To the editors here who are crazily generous with their time and have published my writing over these two years. To S whose ‘girlfriend dates’ with E have indelibly marked E with what friendship in the lives of girls and women can mean. To the friends who have let us ride their horses. To M whose cinema is the source of so much joy and so many hours of conversation. To G whose bookstore is beyond a doubt one of the best in the country and whose one-liners are a whole genre unto themselves. To those we have canoed with and braved tornadoes with on the Missouri River. To the friends who have sung Kinks songs for us and played guitar and enchanted us with their voices. To those who have performed in bars downtown and encouraged us to sway and dance embarrassingly as if we were 19 again. To those who have barbecued (still a mystery to me) and organised fancy dress parties and shared stories about past lives and future dreams. To the people who have been so open and curious and generous and kind. I honestly cannot imagine landing in a more beautiful place.
Who knew that all this and so much more could be found in this small town, high and dry in the foothills of the Rockies, eight hours from the nearest big city? Who knew? But you know who you are and we will always be grateful for what you have given us.
It is my last night in this town. E has three friends over for a sleepover. As I type this, I can see them streak past the kitchen window while the sun sets behind the mountains. They are playing some sort of hide-and-seek game involving fast running, squeals of laughter and the idea of having to get to a ‘safe house’. The goodbyes will be in the morning. We will cry. But then we will get in the car and drive away our sorrow. This is what road trips are so good for. We have several days of lakes and endless horizons and cheap motels and signage that breaks my heart with its insistence on a way of life that still clings on here. All this before we board the plane to London. Those days will be a balm. And then reality will hit and that will be a whole other story.