Pivot: The Update
I wrote a piece for a writing class I was taking.
The exercise asked us to imagine where we would be in a year from now. The answer was easy for me as I had imagined living somewhere else for the last two years. The reality of that vision was not easy. In fact, it had been rendered one of the hardest things. But I wrote it anyway. I wrote what I envisioned for us in this life across the sea. What a day would feel like, how it would move through my heart and my bones. It was beautiful and underlyingly sad.
The end of the piece was the suggestion that I forget Portugal. But as we approached and then passed our original move date, as we settled into a summer I didn’t know we would have here, I began to wonder if that was the answer.
Some of it should be forgotten, of course. The months of hell, the precipice our collective mental health jumped off of, the days of indecision and struggle.
But should I really hold onto the crushing weight of final disappointment? Was that to be my life now? To sit amongst the plenty and beauty of this life and wish it was different? To find a lake lacking against an ocean? To find a forest pale in comparison to a beach? To sit by the pool in this warm, loving home and wish I was in a strange villa atop rolling green hills? That is not a life. And certainly not the lesson I should take away from all this.
Instead, I should wake with the memory of Portugal, the remnants of our intentions there. Take those and sew them into the fabric of our lives here. Why can’t the simplicity, intention, gratitude, nature, food, drink, water and sunshine be found here? In our backyard, in our neighbourhood? In our kitchen?
To sit in the backyard sipping my morning coffee, overlooking the glittering blue of our pool. It turns out this is another place where the coffee just tastes better. I will sip my beloved Timmies to the tune of birdsong and breathe in the sights and sounds of THIS place. The one already fused to me, a part of my very being.
I will not stare out to an ancient stone wall while I make breakfast, but I can turn my head slightly to the right and see my late neighbour's beautiful garden, her legacy of bloom and colour. There will be no fishmonger or bread truck, but Farm Boy, Costco, and groceries are delivered to my door, conveniently, by a smiling driver. There is the St. Lawrence market when I feel so inclined and local farmers markets when I want to stick closer to home.
I won’t drive to school down winding roads but will walk and drive in my ever-changing neighbourhood, sticky with heat, soft with snow or afire with leaves and surrounded by smiling, laughing, bike-riding kids and coffee-sipping neighbours.
I won’t relish the simplicity of a new clean house with a modern twinge but lovingly gaze at the worn, old-fashioned couch that has seen movie nights, pukey kids, and cuddle sessions. I will run my hands along the banged-up, child-blemished walls with an appreciation for them and the world which has made them mine. I will look forward to building a home that fits us - here - in this soil where my heart is buried.
My to-do list will tick along in all our Canadian seasons, and I will do my best to see them as acts of service to this life that I am so very lucky to have. I will cherish my Starbucks and Timmies runs in my peppy little car, music blasting. I will find a forest and fill myself with its beauty until I feel like I could float amongst the trees I so admire.
I will revel in the proximity of loved ones. The friends and family that were to be my sacrifice. I will joy in their presence, the sound of their voice. The beauty found in our collective laughter, and miss them only when I want to.
I will take the kids to the beach after school. The one that we are lucky enough to live right near. We can’t swim in it sure, but we can watch the boats slide along its surface and watch the planes glide into the island airport. We can admire the steel and glass mountains of downtown Toronto. The spire of the CN Tower. We will get sandy, not salty, and have ice cream, not Bolinas. How could anyone be unhappy with a life where ice cream is the worst-case scenario?
We will buy a little 4-seater convertible as our second car, and top-down, spirits soaring above our city traffic will go to restaurants and events around the city that holds our life history. Us as kids, teens, and young adults, and then us as a family. The restaurants won’t have donkeys or manicured lawns filled with orange trees, but they will have delicious food and wine, and we will have each other.
We will return home stuffed and happy, squeeze onto our condo-sized couch, and watch a movie.
If we want to, we will go outside and look up at the stars.
The original exercise is HERE