Autumn Hope

I adore autumn. Oh, I thought I loved summer for a long while, and the beach is marvelous and vacations are fantastic, and there’s something intoxicating about just wallowing in the heat. It’s an annual infatuation, but unrequited – summer does not love me back. My muscles turn to jelly, as it’s too hot to walk, and the sun burns my skin. Fall comes as such a delicious relief: I stride through the fallen leaves under a bright blue sky on blissfully brisk days, feeling the cool air fill my lungs and the blood pumping through my body. It reminds me of the first days of school and brings images of new beginnings.

This fall has disappointed me.

Carmelita has decided she’s an outdoor feline, which is kind of like not having a cat.

I totaled my car.

My husband is not well, and we’ve been frustrated by the medical-industrial complex. There is more to that story to tell, and too much to tell.

My daughter and I have been estranged since May. How does that even happen? Mothers and daughters do not become estranged. Okay, they do, but we don’t. We. Don’t. But we did. It’s a constant squeeze of my heart, a yawning of the pores on my arms, a fist in my gut, a missing her, a worry about whether she’s okay and ever will be okay. I have no idea how to fix it. I tell myself that maybe she’s fine. People who know her tell me she’s doing well, a sign I did my job right. This doesn’t seem quite correct, and I mentally list all of the things I did wrong. I think about The Glass Castle and wonder whether Jeannette Walls ever feels whole. I grieve for the loss of the woman who grew up from the child we raised.

So I am doing little things: taking on new roles at our church; buying “back-to-school” clothes; trying new recipes with fall foods; thinking about the holidays; not thinking about the holidays.

And one big thing: acting classes. I dreamed of performing when I was a child, had it squished out of me by the time I hit 6th grade, and have felt the hole ever since. I’m re-learning things about myself I’d forgotten. Maybe I’ll take an improvisation class next. Maybe I’ll audition for a play.

Maybe I will re-learn how to mother my daughter.

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