Four years ago when I was beginning to date again after my divorce, I was a bit of a crazy person.
The first date I had was with a triathlete whom I’d invited for a daytime bike ride I thought might end at my house, and the night before our ride, I worked late, then went to the Publix near my house a few minutes before it closed and rented a carpet cleaner because I was worried about a cat pee stain in the corner of my bedroom closet. I feared the triathlete might see it, and so I cleaned my carpet with that heavy, expensive, rented machine until 2 or 3 in the morning.
I am the kind of woman who might wear padded bike shorts and a helmet on a first date. I don’t know why I thought I might also be the kind who’d end up showing a man her bedroom closet the same day, but – as I said – I was a bit crazy.
All of us have a propensity to act irrationally at times. That year was mine to lose my grip, and I have many more stories too embarrassing to tell. Some so shameful I don’t think I’ll ever tell a soul, but who knows. The thing with time is that it eventually makes you feel silly for having felt silly.
The best thing I did in that crazy time was hole up with my friends, sleeping in their guest rooms, crying in their passenger seats when they drove me home from rough nights, and inviting them constantly to my house without giving a shit about cat pee or other perceived or real humiliations.
The second best thing was I found a good therapist. She is roughly my mother’s age, and says many of the things my mother might say had my mom been trained in mental health instead of elementary education. Unlike my mother, I tend to listen to my therapist when she tells me I’m fine, I’m doing the right things, I’m smart, I’m creative, I’m going to be alright. Moms are supposed to say that. Therapists are supposed to be honest.
Right now, I am sitting on my porch on a weekend night, alone with a half bottle of red wine left here by one of those amazing Crazy Time friends (she remains very dear), and thinking about the woman who made the dress I happen to be wearing today. The dress is mid-century, 1950s, clearly handmade, and based on the cut and size, by a woman roughly my age. She must be in her 90s now if she is still alive.
Would my dressmaker have been divorced, seen a therapist, managed a career and lived alone in a big house? My house is pink-brick and full of antiques and fabric, my grandmother’s piano and my great-grandmother’s silver. You’d see it and think of it as a lady’s house, not a woman’s house, and yet I feel very much like both. And also like a girl. I still call my dad when an appliance acts up.
Every stage of our lives comes with the lessons and baggage of every stage prior. I have learned that it will serve you well to show empathy to those children inside you, especially the sad, tender and crazy ones.