Katie’s driveway is long and in the gray light of spring thaw, it didn’t look icy. It looked wet.
I carried Shaya, just coming out of sleep from the long drive, and walked along the pavement toward her house. But it was ice, unbeknownst to me, though I’d thought I had sized up the situation appropriately and ventured forward with knowledge.
When I fell, I didn’t see it coming. I lost my footing, the birthday present for Katie’s year-old son Kieran fell to the ground, and I gripped my baby tighter, in an effort not to drop him as I tumbled to the hard, cold ground. My knees hit the asphalt; my jeans ripped on one knee and the ground cut into my skin. Blood seeped into the fabric.
But in my arms, Shaya remained. His soft skin never touched ground.
When I got into the house, Katie and her partner Laura gathered round, concerned about my ripped jeans, my bloody knee, my unscathed child. Laura punched numbers into the telephone to dial the other party guests who had yet to arrive, warning them about the slick driveway, using as evidence my torn jeans.
If I had known the driveway was so slippery, would I still have parked on the street? Probably. I would’ve walked slower, though, or maybe on the grass. A different path to the same destination. I think.
On Sunday, I sat beside Orchard Lake and let the wind brush across my face. The water gurgled and gulped against the rocks. I sat next to the rocks, wanting to dip my bare foot over into the cool lake water, but never doing it because I didn’t want to fall in.
Instead, I sat with sun on my face and water in my ears and for an hour, I was happy.
There is no real ice in July in Michigan. But after a divorce, the metaphors are everywhere. People warn me not to make any decisions or commitments for months, maybe even a year. Last night, one friend told me not to have a party in August the same week I go out to a new chic restaurant with friends. “Isn’t that too much?” she said. I didn’t understand her words.
All I know is that I have to deal tenderly with myself these days and understand my surface-loving emotions. I still have that pair of jeans that tore outside Katie’s house last winter. They were new and they looked good on me, so I didn’t want to toss them. But it feels strange to pull on a pair of torn pants when I could wear something whose fabric isn’t frayed.
Maybe it’s my reminder of the tender times. Maybe I keep them in my closet and occasionally pull them out as evidence that I will heal. We always heal. That’s the miracle of existence.