Exhaustion is a constant companion these days. No surprise there, really. I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worrying about what I forgot to do the day before and wondering how in the hell I'm going to accomplish everything I need to do next. I get up crazy early and go to bed late trying to work a little quiet time around the kids' demands, and I live on coffee and spoonfuls of peanut butter most of the time. Full meals only happen when I have company or the kids demand something other than cereal, frozen pizza, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In another life, I did Bikram yoga and ate fruit and steel-cut oatmeal and cooked dinner on a regular basis. In this one, my self-care looks like the diet Emily Blunt's character in The Devil Wears Prada describes: "Well, I don't eat anything, and when I'm about to pass out, I eat a cube of cheese."
It isn't sustainable. I know this.
Yet still I tried to cram as much as possible into every single minute of every single day. These past few months as the move loomed, I justified it by thinking, "After the summer, I won't be able to do this. I won't be able to see this person or go to this place or be with this group or have this conversation--maybe ever again. It's worth a little exhaustion." For the most part, I stand by that logic. I've had some experiences I will remember for the rest of my life. But I'm running on fumes and can barely keep up with normal life at this point.
Today we finished up my son's bucket list with a trip to the Statue of Liberty. I bought the monument passes weeks ago, but it just so happened our visit fell on the day of the US Women's Soccer Team's World Cup victory parade. My oldest daughter and I watched the final game in an Irish bar Sunday night--she played varsity as a freshman in high school last year--so when I told her about the parade, she asked if we could go since we would be in the city anyway. Of course I said yes, even though it meant getting up and out the door earlier than anyone wanted. We went to bed last night without definitive plans, though, so in a slightly pathetic modern moment this morning, we texted each other from our respective bedrooms about whether it would be worth it or not. As I looked at her little sister snuggled up next to me snoring and her brother asleep on the other side of the room, I wasn't disappointed when she balked at first.
Then she changed her mind, and the machine that drives four people out of bed, through their morning routine, and into the car in under 45 minutes took over.
It was not a perfect day. We bickered and complained; we raised our voices in unpleasant moments; we had to deal with crowds and waiting in lines and trying to find a place to eat when we were already hungry and every place we stopped was bursting at the seams; there were tears from the youngest and insults between the two older kids. But mixed in and around all of that were moments of tenderness, genuine affection and amusement, laughter, and a sense of connection that has eluded us for far too long.
So when the ferry (which we told the youngest was driven by "fairies" so that she wouldn't derail the whole day with her fear of boats) docked at Battery Park, and the kids looked at me to see if I would make them walk across the Brooklyn Bridge--the one thing I had left on MY bucket list--or take them home, I pulled them to me for a group hug and set off for the subway that would take us back to the parking garage, the West Side Highway, and home.
New York (and the Northeast in general) is a gifted teacher, and I have been an eager student. I have learned as many lessons as this incredible part of the world could teach me at this stage of my life; lessons that have fundamentally transformed how I think and experience life. I'm leaving with gratitude and wonder and a determination to continue to build on so many positive changes.
But New York is also the city that never sleeps, and I am a woman who needs sleep in the worst possible way. As the ferry docked, I felt all those months of frenetic going/doing/seeing come to a close and knew in my bones I am done with my time here. I can't give in to the exhaustion yet because I have too much left to do, but there's a stillness around the edges now. I can feel peace waiting for me on the other side of everything that remains to be done, reaching for me across all of the sad goodbyes and endless tasks involved in moving, and I'm finally ready. It's time to go.
Mother, photographer, writer. Expert in making things up as she goes and figuring things out along the way.