A Hope Chest of Light Keeping

the gate, the latch, the door, the key

I woke up today, still knowing nothing.

I felt the sun on my face and sighed. I am tired. My insides are fatigued and my heart hurts. My heart is getting overwrought with trying to heal. My heart is the gate that will not close and latch behind the person leaving. Most times the person I feel leaving is me. And I have to call out: “Hey, wait! You can’t leave me. We are in this together! If you leave me, what will I be?” But she’s too fast and I’m left alone without myself. Or rather, left with only myself. Which may be more frightening.

But. I came downstairs and through the window the Day-lilies were blooming out back so orange, so open, so ready to greet the day. They ask nothing but to drink the sun until their petals drop off and they go back to sleep until next June. In these past months I have often wished to go to sleep until next June, but then I think about missing Christmas and change my mind. Also, and most importantly, I would miss the fireflies, the autumn, the chimney smoke rising lazily upwards towards the moon, the smell of ice in the air, pumpkins, the first snow. Not to mention dipping my feet into the ocean, fireworks and the crisp green smell of the fresh cut grass. Like, I said..going to sleep til next June was a bad idea. I don’t want to miss all these things.

I am 30 now. This decade is like stepping into a room and there is no way to know what will fill it. My steps echoing on the floors in the unfamiliar. I have closed and locked the door to my 20s, carrying with me only what I’ve learned in a tiny little beaded crimson velvet bag called my heart. My tired, iron gate, stained glass, vintage, must-wear-gloves-when-taking-it-out-of-the-tissue-paper heart. I feel so old I may blow away like ash. I feel I have so much to give I may burst with the anticipation of it all.

But I will say, so far, there is a softening in 30 not looking anything like what I planned. A feeling of exhale because I haven’t a clue of what I want next. A moment of pure suspension in being present in the grief and the beauty of knowing things because I am on the other side of them. What do I have to prove anyway now that I am no longer in my 20’s? I’ve lived in three different cities, I’ve gotten two degrees, I’ve had two major relationships, I’ve buried a beloved person, I’ve pushed when I’ve felt like giving up. I’ve gone to work when my eyes were swollen shut with sorrow the day after Valentine’s Day, I’ve laughed to the point of crying on this Thursday last. I tried a lot, I failed a lot. I’m a mess, who isn’t, and la la la onwards we go. So, ok. 30.

My whole life I’ve been waiting to get in this room, and now that I am here. It looks different than I thought it would. I’ve been climbing the staircase for some time, aching to be closer to myself, to the person I’ve always wanted to be. Maybe now that I’m here I can rest in the knowledge that whatever furniture I place, whatever I collect, whom ever I gather will be of my own choosing and no one else’s. I should have realized this ten years ago.

That almost makes me giddy.

Overall, the room of my 20’s was full of people who didn’t deserve to be there. I can see myself, even though it hasn’t been that long, laying flat while a parade of people stepped over me, or worse, on me to get in and out of the room. And I let them, I was a willing participant in being the place people wiped their feet. I had a key to the room of my 20’s. I know fear is what kept me allowing people to move in and out at their leisure. Meanwhile I was bruising and smashed into the carpet. All I had to do to stop it all was stand up, usher them all out like a hostess at a party. I didn’t. I waited until all my bones were broken, and my soul’s flesh was ruined and my nerves frayed like rug tassels before I did a thing about it. I’m working on forgiving myself for that. Forgiving myself is slow, the damage is deep and I want everything to be so perfect all the time. Which is so boring. Honestly, who gives a damn, Scarlett, about being perfect?

I have a new key now and the door is locked for a change. I am enjoying my own company. I have invited a few loved ones in but not to stay for a sleepover. More of a tea-party. It’s working so far. I get lonely, so I day dream about how I will decorate the new space. What color to paint the walls. Where the love of my life will hang out, how often my family will join me here, how much my friends and I will scheme of what will be next. I imagine a lot of comfortable furniture, strong natural light as to keep the shadows at bay, great books to share, some photos of adventure. Perhaps a dog. Hopefully a husband. Maybe a baby, a house, a garden, a connection to something bigger than myself. Fresh sheets and wildflowers, a job I love and an intense gratitude for all that lead me here. This is what I hope. I may not get all of it in this room, I may have to wait for the next room and even still, the next. But I’m learning to be ok with that. For now, I’m working on how to lock and unlock the door to this special and new space. How to invite people in and let people go. How to latch and unlatch the gate with ease. How to lubricate the wrought iron of my heart. How to keep sacred the key.

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