I’m 50 years old, today.  There!  I said it.  I always love my birthday, but this particular milestone has been giving me pause — it sounds so much older than I think of myself being.  Because of the imminent start of school and my older kids’ returns to college, we did a lot of celebrating this past weekend.  A gathering of friends on Friday night and a family dinner on Saturday, followed by college drives on Sunday and Monday.  My husband and youngest son started back today, sort of (for special programming, classes not until Thursday), so I’m actually alone in the house for the first time in quite a while.  And I’m liking it.  Feeling reflective, I read through some of the pieces I did over the summer in writing class and felt moved to share this one today.

Who We Are Now
I picture the outline of dough that is left
after cookies are cut out and placed on the baking sheet.
Mash these leftovers into a ball, add more from the bowl,
roll out again to make other shapes.

It’s not the same as fresh dough
bears the imprint of being worked before,
less elastic, a bit dry.

I call to mind the blobby feeling of the first hours after giving birth,
organs unsettled, uncertain where they belong now,
the outline in my womb
an emptiness.

Absence already leaving its mark.

They are often absent now.
Is absence the opposite of presence?
Sort of,
but it has its own kind of fullness,
as they grow and expand,
flowing out into their own lives,
a relentless current
toward presence elsewhere.

Their outline still here
in the mirage
of shoes by the door, socks strewn under the couch, jeans on the line,
the remembered sound
of doors opening and closing, voices raised in laughter or argument.

Unsettled, we gather our own remnants,
slowly, gradually
discover who we are now
in this newly vacant space.

I only chose the title this morning, which is unusual for me.  But the obvious ones (ie “Absence”) just didn’t seem right. To me this title suggests an optimistic, forward view that I genuinely feel.  Let the discovery continue!