November 28, 2004

the divide

I keep thinking about before and after. If you wish for something really badly, if you hope for some big career change or a life partner to walk into your life, if you want more than anything for an agent or a publishing house to say they love your manuscript, if your job ended and your savings are dwindling and you're looking into the abyss and you desperately need a new gig and you really hope it can be a good one, if you look at the pregnancy stick every month and it keeps coming up negative, well, that's the before.

The hardest part of being in the before is the huge gulf you inevitably feel between there and the after. It's like you're on one side of a huge, rushing river complete with deadly rapids and the after, well, it's on the other side cheerily waving to you. You can see it but you can't touch it and you'll be damned if you know how to get there. Build a raft? Maybe a bridge? Rent a copter? How? Improbable, unbelievable, taunting and teasing and terribly, awfully impossible.

And yet people do get from here to there, from before to after. I know. I've done it myself. Watched my spouse do it, watched friends. And when you're comfortably in the after, when you're pregnant or holding your newly adopted baby or the contract is signed or the money's in the bank, you shrug and smile. "That all worked out nicely, no?" And then after a while, when the memory of the angst has faded, you convince yourself that it was meant to be this way, that you needed the before to go just like that because it led inevitably and inexorably to the so very satisfying after.

But when you're in the midst of it, looking with such painful longing across the angrily roaring water, your mind plays tricks. You start thinking it will never happen, it can never happen, and in fact the reason it won't? Because you're making it not happen. The power of negative thinking. And then you start trying to be cheery and positive, wishing on every star, even ones that turn out to be really slow airplanes, always bringing pennies with you for stray fountains, and just generally finding as many ways to be superstitious because that may do the trick, that may turn this into that, no into yes, empty into full. And then if it doesn't right away, you start hating yourself because after all, if it hasnít happened with all that good luck churning around in the water (not to mention all those perfectly good coins), then you must not be worthy enough. Everyone else does it right, everyone but you.

But you know? The distance from not to have turns out sometimes to be quite short. Just a little hop and you're over the barrier. Just a little skip and you're home free. The ache of wanting settling into the quieter pleasure of the reality of having (always replete with more headaches than you'd quite realized in your daydreams). And it seems so natural, so normal, so everyday. Just a short jump. Not impossible, not at all.

Important to remember that, I think.

Posted by Tamar at November 28, 2004 10:04 PM

Ain't that the truth?!

Posted by: annette at November 28, 2004 11:14 PM

You couldn't have captured it better Tamar. Thanks.

Posted by: Kay at November 28, 2004 11:16 PM

Whar's the phrase? Life is what happens while you're waiting for something else?

Posted by: Chris at November 29, 2004 07:54 PM

Hmmm...This sounds awfully cryptic to me. Have you crossed from before to after in any particular realm lately, Tamar?

Posted by: Tiny Coconut at December 1, 2004 10:00 AM

(and just to be sure you know, I meant cryptic in the sense that I feel like you're holding back on something, not cryptic in the sense that I couldn't understand what you were trying to say here. Because I have never not been able to understand what you say. The clarity of your writing is remarkable.)

Posted by: Tiny Coconut at December 1, 2004 10:02 AM

Nope, haven't made that jump lately (I'd let you know!!!). Just looking across the water feeling wistful.

Posted by: Tamar at December 1, 2004 10:07 AM

I don't know if you read Andrea's Superhero Journal, but this entry of yours made me think of one of Andrea's recent posts. It's here: Andrea is definitely on the Before side of the divide, at least with regard to one aspect of her life. Reading her entry reminded me of some of the same things your post reminded me of - that it is HARD to be in the Before, and that when you are in the After, it is easy to forget just how hard it was to be in the Before.

Posted by: Jessamyn at December 2, 2004 08:07 AM