by Jennifer on October 11, 2009

Not long ago, on her Facebook page, my sister posted these lines from Whitman:

Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.

Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself

What she didn’t know was that this is one of my favorite passages.

I left her a note.

“Did you know that I’ve had this memorized for at least 15 years? (Ah, if only I knew it by heart…)”

You know how it goes. Some lessons take longer to learn than others.

Some things you learn in no time at all, like tying a shoe or riding a bike. Others take weeks, months, years. And sometimes you realize you knew it all along, that you always knew what to do if you would just let go, to realize you have a longer stride in you, bigger steps than the timid ones you’ve been taking there in the shallows.

So you walk out farther, and if the bottom drops out, you swim like hell. Well, I’ll be damned, you maybe say to yourself. You always knew how, didn’t you?

And then you look around and realize you’re not out there alone, not even close. Around you, ready to hold you up, are all the people you love and who love and care about you.

People who would give their time and strength and hearts and resources to stand beside and around and behind you and say We’ve got your back.

And they’re looking at you, and you can’t quite figure out how to describe that expression on all their faces. Part love, yes, and encouragement. But there’s something else, too.

The name for it floats somewhere in the back of your consciousness, until you can see it clearly.


You want to feel what they feel, that certainty that everything will turn out, and you do, in moments. But it’s been so long since you knew anything for sure, that you don’t even remember how it feels.

Until the word steps forward and gives a crisp salute. Present. Accounted for, it says. Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.And then, with a wink, Did you miss me?

You think, god, yes.

Soon, other words join the first, soldiers showing up for duty. Humility. Hope. Gratitude (so much, immeasurable amounts of that). Courage. Strength. Gumption. Honesty. Friendship. Possibility.

That last one – possibility – is the newest recruit, and stands shoulder to shoulder with belief. Turns out, they’re from the same hometown.

Which brings me to the news I have to share.

The first part of it is that I have finally moved. But…not to any of the places I’ve mentioned here as possibilities. Instead, we landed in Maryland, and it’s exactly the right place for us right now.

The other part of the news is that only three of us made the move, just me and the kids. That’s also exactly the right thing for us.

I couldn’t have done it at all without the seemingly limitless help and encouragement and time that my friends and family offered us. It’s not a comfortable place to be, needing as much help as I have to make this move and to start over. But I am so overwhelmed and grateful and filled to the top with love for everyone who helped me make this happen.  At every turn, there was someone to put a gentle but firm hand at my back to keep me moving forward.

I will never be able to say a big enough thank you.

So, we’re here, where fall is starting to show itself, a show I haven’t seen in six years. I couldn’t have timed this better if I had tried, really. And now, something old becomes something new, and I have to figure out how this new life will look. I only know this, that it will be better than what was, and that’s a lot to know. More than enough.

Oh, about that thing I said to my sister, about the Whitman lines? About having it memorized, but wishing I knew it by heart?

This was her response, and it made me laugh:

“I am totally stealing that line.”

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat October 11, 2009 at 8:15 am

It’s the most exciting thing to embark on a new life, in a new place…I kind of envy you. I know it won’t be smooth sailing but that isn’t the mark of success in this life. Enjoy the ride, and I’m so glad you get to see the seasons change.


Louise October 11, 2009 at 8:30 am

And we do believe.


texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvana October 11, 2009 at 8:52 am

So glad you have moved to a better place. Thinking of you often!


JCK October 11, 2009 at 9:24 am

I’ve got questions, but always, always send you love and courage. I know you have strength. It is so amazingly apparent. Maryland has gorgeous sea shores, I hear. And, oh…the delight of D.C. so near. And NYC just a train ride. Huge hugs your way, my beautiful, lyrical friend.


phd in yogurtry October 11, 2009 at 9:36 am

A virtual hug for a woman facing very real challenges, believing that everything will turn out okay being chief among them. Given all that I’ve read here, I believe in you, too.

Looking forward to newly inspired drives. Maryland is a beautiful state.


Shania October 11, 2009 at 9:49 am

Welcome to the east! I’m right on the Maryland border in the panhandle of West Virginia (close to Frederick, MD and Loudoun County, VA) should you need anything. Best of luck and enjoy the fall. May I suggest a trip up the skyline drive on one of your thursday drives? Absolutely gorgeous!

Of course, this is all assuming that you’re in eastern, not western, Maryland. Bit of a drive, if not!


Boomer October 11, 2009 at 9:51 am

I hope that your new home is filled to the brim with people who believe in you. And I wish you all the love possible in that beautiful place. ?


Boomer October 11, 2009 at 9:52 am

That question mark above was a heart. Not sure why some programs show it as a question. Love is NEVER a question, is it?


Jenn @ Juggling Life October 11, 2009 at 11:20 am

I love that you make everything an adventure. I look forward to hearing more about your new life–and hearing you wax poetic about the very different scenery of your new home.


Paula October 11, 2009 at 11:32 am

Your new life has crabcakes!!!


Tara October 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Congratulations on your new life! {That hair color change may have been symbolic ;)} You are so full of class and grace! Good luck to your new chapter!


Suzanne October 11, 2009 at 5:42 pm

wow. you go girl and my thoughts are with you as you embark on this new path. you are a rock star.


Heather October 11, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Wow, big changes for you. Wishing you continued peace as you start this new chapter in your life.


suburbancorrespondent October 11, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Did I miss something? What happened?

And welcome to the East Coast!


suburbancorrespondent October 11, 2009 at 8:10 pm

And at least you’re here in time to enjoy the fall!


flutter October 11, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I am so proud of you, so happy and believe in you without a shadow of a doubt. I miss you already and I could seriously punch myself in the face that we didn’t have a chance to hang out more.

You cast a long and strong shadow, you lovely, bright thing. I love you.


Cammie October 11, 2009 at 10:57 pm

I am thinking of you and your family as you continue through another adventure!

I look forward to hearing about new beginnings and new beautiful Thursday drives!


Manic Mommy October 12, 2009 at 6:54 am

Best, best, best of luck. We have the belief in you. I hope you soon know it by heart.


Gwen October 12, 2009 at 9:11 am

May you find the peace and strength you need for this next wondrous, scary chapter.


Daryl October 12, 2009 at 9:49 am

Missed you … sorry to hear of the changes but I am sure they are what you need and so they are good … and now you are closer .. whereabout in MD? xo


Thumbelina October 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I have missed you but that is more my fault than yours. I never seem to get to blogs these days as much as I would like. But tonight I was drawn to yours for the first time in ages… so glad I came.
It is a strangely comforting whilst at the same time mildly claustrophobic feeling to have so much support – with the comforting side of it overwhelmingly greater. I am glad you have those friends around you to support you.
You have them here too to send you hugs, prayers, good vibes, …. which I do of course.

Enjoy the autumn / fall. 😀


Ree October 12, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Wow! And I’d wondered where you’d gone.

What an adventure. Enjoy!


the mama bird diaries October 12, 2009 at 6:26 pm

I’ve missed you!

Thinking of you and sending you lots of support with your new adventure.


Coco October 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I’ve been feeling like something monumental was going on in your life and I’m sorry I didn’t dig deeper.

However, I’m glad things are working out and I know that whatever happens, you will continue to shine.

Much love to you and yours.


fancy feet October 13, 2009 at 3:59 pm

This brought tears to my eyes. I read this yesterday and had to come back. I wish you the very best. Thank you for letting us in and reminding us how powerful words like belief and hope and courage are when people are living them.


Emily R October 13, 2009 at 8:18 pm

i want to call you. because i just do. so, um, send me your number…


Reluctantfarmchik October 14, 2009 at 4:39 am

WOWsers!! I am only shocked because I didn’t hear MD in any other conversations – but belief and possibility (soul-mates that they are) make it a no-brainer. I might even get to see you with my parents and brother in MD. So very cool. And if you ever need a road trip to somewhere remote (but with cowboys conspicuously absent, replaced by redneck farmers) you have an open invitation.


Arli October 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm

When my life went in an unexpected new direction some years ago, I got some good advice from my mom (not known for her good advice): “You are stronger than you think.”
She was right. So are you.


Chris October 15, 2009 at 1:40 am

Congratulations on the move. I hope you and the kids are well and I’ll send you peaceful juju as you start this new chapter of your life. You’re a brave, strong woman. You should feel proud.


Chris October 15, 2009 at 1:41 am

PS: And pretty too!


anymommy October 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Amazing. I had no idea what a huge move this was for you. Godspeed. Take a moment to look at the leaves and appreciate your guts. You are brave, and bold.

Laughably, this made me think of a far less literary quote: “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, just keep swimming…” You have to love Disney 😉


San Diego Momma October 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Well I haven’t been keeping up with my blog reading for a few months now and look what happens.

I think this is a great thing. I bet this move inspires you in ways you’ve only just begun to know.


Indigo October 20, 2009 at 9:19 am

I was kind of wondering how your story was unfolding. I believed in time, when you were ready, I would know the outcome. It’s a brave, courageous and filled with faith move you’ve made. I can just imagine Maryland with all her Autumnal splendor welcoming you into her arms. I’ve missed you dear friend.

I guess this means I need a new address for you? As for that line, I agree with your sister it’s totally steal worthy. (Hugs)Indigo


maggie, dammit October 20, 2009 at 10:13 am

Waiting for that email. Hope everything is okay. xoxo


Boliath November 4, 2009 at 8:14 am

Wow, love and best wishes to all of you as you navigate these new seas xx


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