One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I realized that somewhere in the middle of living my life, I had stopped. I had followed Artax into the Swamps of Sadness, watched him die there, grieved, healed, and never left. Fate had handed me the prophecy of what would happen if I stayed there, up to my armpits in muck: I was destined to Live Alone and Like It, as certain Grand Dames had done before me. A powerful Mystic had hinted at what hardships lay ahead should I continue to move forward: destruction. Darkness. Change. Rebirth.
Like it or not, I did not want to live alone. So I made a decision. I decided to live my life, this one life that I get, no dress rehearsals, no do-overs. My adventure was not over yet, my story still far from ever ending. I embraced Pluto. I walked along the Ouroboros and planted my foot square between his eyes. I blew a kiss and crumbled the walls of the Ivory Tower. I burnt down the city, became the Phoenix, and rose from the ash. I lifted my arms to Falkor (in this world his name is Expedia) and flew out of the swamp and away to the next chapter.
For those less metaphorically inclined: I quit my job, packed a suitcase, and escaped to a far off land. When I returned home from that land, home was a house in Pennsylvania with two writers, four kids, a fireplace, a gas stove, a Needy Cat, and an Awesome Porch. I took off Bridget Jones’ bunny suit and donned the apron of Alice in The Brady Bunch. What surprised me was how incredibly easy it was to do, how badly I realized it needed to have been done once I did it, how little I actually left behind, and how much a TARDIS-quality suitcase costs on Delta if it’s seven pounds over the weight limit. (SEVENTY DOLLARS?!? REALLY?)
My parents came to visit me a week later since they were in the area for the holidays. (That’s right, I’m now IN AN AREA where people stop by and visit.) Bob and Kelli were at work but Lilwenchi and Kram were around, weaving in and out of the house trailing skateboards and Kool-aid and girlfriends like ducklings and boys with acoustic guitar sets in their wake.
At one point, Mom turned to me and asked the question Kelli asks so often when trying to plan dinner. “How many people actually belong in this house?”
“Four,” I answered. “Five, counting me. Rarely three. Usually five. Sometimes seven.” And I smiled a smile she hadn’t seen in a very long time, one of those smiles that comes straight from the heart and soul, one of those smiles that warms a cold room and makes blemishes disappear, one of those smiles that eases muscles and cures headaches and sets a parent’s mind at ease, assuring them that everything is all right with their wandering princess child whose hair still smells of soot and whose shoes are still covered in swamp mud.
In a contest between “live alone and like it” and “sometimes seven”, I’ll take Sometimes Seven every time.
There’s no place else I’d rather be.