Earlier this week, without any fanfare or cake, this quiet little blog turned eleven. I very much appreciate the character of Eleven on the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things. Eleven is a survivor. She is loyal. She is fragile, and yet SO powerful. She is searching for her stability.
I get it.
Much has changed since the day I started blogging. I know we say that and it can be a bit of a shrug off, but HUGE, epic, things. People are dead. People are alive. Old friends are gone. Facebook has this hit or miss memory feature that can be so precious on one day and then so jarring on others. One day it’s: LOOK! Tiny W! So cute! The next: oh. Wow. Haven’t spoken to that person in YEARS.
Going back and reading old blog posts is a bit like that. I cringe at some of the things I wrote about and the way I wrote, and yet I am beyond thankful to have all of the words to read. Posts with broken image links or links to blogs that are long defunct, they are ripples in time.
For so many years it was just a sea of longing and sadness on my blog. I can remember sharply the desire to become a mother. It’s like someone asking you to describe what a specific comfort food tastes like. It’s been two decades since I had a soy burger dinner at Dojo’s in New York, but in an instant, the remembrance of the entire meal is in my mind.
I have no idea what it is like to not have anxiety or worry when it comes to many parts of my life. I marvel when I witness or hear other people live without this parallel accessory to their day to day existence. What must it be like to have a baby easily? What is it like to not worry about losing a baby? What is it like to say yes to your kid without quietly checking your bank account? What is it like to not worry?
In the late nineties, I went to San Francisco with a boy I liked. We took the scenic route from Los Angeles and sang along to the mixed tape he made just for the drive. We had no plans or specific places we were going to see, and somehow I ended up at Grace Cathedral. My life was fairly mellow at that point. I had a job I was good at and really loved. I had friends. Things were great with all branches of my family. I was a simple ship on the ocean gladly going wherever the waves took her.
And the waves took me to Grace. I walked into the church and glowed beneath the prisms of light. It was crowded inside, but I could see, underneath the pews, an unusual design on the floor. It was a labyrinth. “Neat,” I thought and continued walking around. But then I heard people talking about “walking the labyrinth” and I became fascinated. What did that MEAN? And why? I discovered that there was a secondary labyrinth just outside of the church that could be walked (the one inside the church could only be walked if the pews were moved).
Walking a labyrinth didn’t seem like a big deal. Walk in a circle. Ok. I could do that.
Only it isn’t about walking in a circle, it’s about ONLY walking in the circle. It’s meditating. It’s putting one foot in front of the other and only thinking about that moment.
I’m not sure what, or even how, but I changed during that labyrinth walk. It’s as if the experience imprinted on me. The symbol of a labyrinth, from that point on, became very important and meaningful. When flutters of panic or dread would flit up and threaten to overtake me I could mentally find the image of the labyrinth in my mind and start to walk around the curves.
As early as 2006 I started writing about my desire for a labyrinth tattoo. But when you go through infertility, and some of the other medical scares I did, getting a tattoo takes a backseat. There is also the cost involved and as a person who rarely makes a purchase for herself I couldn’t imagine doing this and not saving away for something for W.
This Summer the ink finally happened. Seeing the ink on my arm makes me feel more ME. Weird how that happens. Strange.
The number eleven feels like an opportunity to accept where I am. Just as I am. The number even looks a bit like standing in front of a mirror. Eleven. Still writing, still figuring it all out, still here. I’m still walking my path, at my own pace.