Further Up, Further In

psx_20160512_125110Recently, I went back and read the first post I ever published on this blog, and it reminded me why I started blogging in the first place. I’d just come back to the U.S. after living in India for three years. I was grieving. I didn’t know how I was supposed to be in this new/old culture. Writing helped me to bear witness to the confusion of repatriation and to the eventual clarity that time and distance gifted me.

After a while, cultural commentary/navel gazing snippets morphed into other kinds of posts, some about homeschooling, some about learning how to be a stay-at-home mom without losing myself completely. And then there were updates about the new global adventures I ended up on, ones I didn’t see coming.

But then I wrote a novel. And another one, and then one after that. I still blogged, but it felt different, like digging in a sandbox without a shovel. This summer I attended an enormous writers conference where I thought, This whole fiction writing thing isn’t beyond my reach after all. And I didn’t blog once.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle,

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…come further up, come further in!”

He gave these words to a noble character named Jewel, and he wasn’t talking about writing, but about Aslan’s Country. Still I resonate with them when I think about writing stories.

Which brings me to this: I’ve been thinking I need to step away from blogging. It’s been enormously helpful for me to write about what bubbled to the surface of my brain these last few years, but now my brain is full of fiction. I won’t delete this space, but it may gather dust. Or, who knows, I may come back to it one day when I need it most. But I suspect I’ll probably just keep writing–and living–stories.

Thanks for reading. It’s meant a lot.

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Quitting

A mentor in our kids’ lives disappeared yesterday.  By that I mean he just didn’t show up to their after-school lesson, after three years of bi-weekly meetings.  Didn’t say ‘Listen, kids, I’ve got something to tell you’, didn’t let us down easy.

Someone else hinted that he’d been having problems, that his wife had up and moved to another county.  We would have never guessed any of that because he seemed so resilient, so quietly satisfied with the general out-workings of his life.

So we’re sad today, in a way we can’t place, exactly.  Because it feels like someone died, but they didn’t.

And we didn’t get to say goodbye.

How to Say Goodbye (Again)

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Last night was the end of the year celebration for our local homeschool co-op.  Since we won’t be returning to this particular group next year, it was a bittersweet, flashback kind of thing that left us with a pulled-tooth ache.

For us, it was the culmination of three years of learning, growing, and walking with other like-minded parents and kids after having lived abroad in relative homeschool isolation for the previous three years.  In a way, this season in community would help to rehabilitate us, though we couldn’t have known that when we started.

The kids received their fancy certificates dressed in leftover Easter clothes because I’m determined that they get more than one wear out of them.  We took pictures, ate brownies, and reminisced with other parents who have taken this road less traveled.  Some of the moms looked fresh and eager, but more looked tired, like we’d run a marathon, and then applied lipstick to sweaty lips on the way here.

Life is a series of chapters (it’s true, even if it is a giant cliche and there’s violin music playing in the background).  Just when you’ve gotten past the tentative beginning of a thing, after you’ve forged through the spiral griefs and joys of its interminable middle, you find yourself at the end, and you aren’t ready, though you saw it coming five pages ago.

This is how it always is.

Different, same, different, same.

Different.

Same.