The Gray

I’m not ready…but here it comes.

I have many beautiful girlfriends. I’m writing about one in particular this morning…a person who has been like a sister to me for over 40 years. She’s an accomplished woman who has moved full tilt into life at all stages and we who adore her have always noted among other things, how fabulous she continues to look.  Fit, trim, lithe…the works. 

I’ll ramble here for a bit and eventually work my way to the thought  I’m trying to pull into focus. 

I know our experiences in the isolation of this quarantine chapter in all our lives are varying greatly. I have pals who’ve been stretched more than thin trying to be all things to all people working full time from home whilst continuing to raise their young children in a world of no playdates, schools, nor camps. Still others have been handling the stresses of keeping safe whilst being out in the workforce. Some of us fortunate enough to be able to shelter at home have taken on new projects.  I’ve started, however haltingly, to play the piano again. Be grateful you’re not under my roof to hear the struggle.  I’ve managed a couple of paintings…not that they’re good but I’ve enjoyed the process. Both of these I might add have proven somewhat antidotal to the heartache and madness we’re all witnessing. I’ve tackled house projects…upholstered, spackled, painted, etc. Believe me you would not want me to come anywhere near your house projects. In the fixing up department the success rate on home administered hair cuts, I’ve noticed kindness of social media posts, have varied enormously.

The mention of all this is a preamble to not being prepared for the update my beautiful girlfriend sent out this morning.  A photo of herself gorgeous as ever but with her long brown tresses shorn to a chic close crop and gray. Gray? Wait! If she’s gray then I am too. If she’s gray then she’s embracing her age, means she does not have endless years ahead to lead the charge as she has always done. Means that perhaps she has some aches and pains, that she’s entering a chapter when the horizon is not necessarily more life but you know that other thing. Death. There I said it.  Not that death itself is scary…that feels more like a new beginning to me…but to cross that threshold means to say good by to all of this, to the-infinite possibilities of life, that time is up, that the story is written, the chapters done. It means that the time for building has passed.

This begs the question “What about the chapters I thought I’d have?” If she is gray then the time for those dreams has passed and it is time instead to begin to look back and accept the brutal fact that I missed the boat on many fronts…not, mercifully on all but totally, tragically on some.  If she is gray I will have to make my peace, deal with the left undone-ness of life and come to terms with the fact that there are things I will never attain in this life time, that I screwed up, got unlucky, lived a life in some ways I intended and in other ways absolutely did not.  It means that some losses will go unredeemed, full stop. Life’s gains will not be castles so much as buoys I got to hang onto on the stormy sea of the story of my life.

But if you embrace the gray…what are the gifts? Does it mean that you’ve earned the privilege of finally giving yourself permission to say out loud how you really feel at times and to not continue to pour energies into those you should not? Is the letting go of dreams, whatever they may be, a grace note? A shelter from the exhaustion of longing? A blessing of forgiveness for others as well as for yourself? Does it mean to step off the gerbil wheel and exist in the contentment of now? If so, then maybe I am ready after all.

Bring on the gray. Metaphorically anyway…in the meanwhile I’m not quite as brave as my beautiful girlfriend has been so for now anyway, Amazon…one more box of Clairol please.

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