I spend the better part of Saturday stacking wood, beginning bundled in a sweatshirt and hat, and quickly stripping to a tank top and shorts. A black cat wanders by and appraises my work which, admittedly, is uneven but certainly sufficient. I breathe in fresh sap, wet earth, dusty bark crumbles.
The month of September — all thirty days — disappeared in a few heartbeats. I’m still pulling in frost-choked parts of my garden, the dead lily stalks, putting away the clay fairy house in the rock garden my daughter made so many years ago.
Friday, I’m at a summit all day that brought together people, who, in one way or another, are enmeshed in healing from addiction. Here’s the thing: a few years ago, I never would have attended a summit like this, let alone speak to a large group. For years, I said nothing about my own struggles with addiction. But publishing Unstitched acknowledged in a very public way my own miserable struggles with drinking. Because I had written the book, I had to answer questions publicly about this, and I needed a surprising amount of time to acknowledge this, to really accept what this meant. But I heard — and I kept hearing — from people I both knew and complete strangers — about their struggles, or a friend or family member’s struggles.
The Rumi line I quote in Unstitched is “the wound is the place where light enters.” When I returned Friday evening, my daughter asked me why I go to these sad things. And it’s true; there’s such grief that’s shared. But now I understand that there’s my own grief — still much of it in a private place in my heart — but grief is our human commonality, too. The wound is what renders the light possible.
When I step out, three hot air balloons are rising.
Nearby the expo where the summit is held is a hair salon named The Rusty Clipper where I dropped off maple syrup wedding favors about twenty years ago. The father of the bride gave me a check. When the bride opened a box, she told me I had given her the wrong bottle — hearts instead of leaves, or leaves instead of hearts. I gave the check back to the father. I put the boxes back in my car. I buckled in my three-year-old and drove home. At home, I redid all the favors and drove back the next day. When I got the check again.
I stand there under the hot air balloons and wonder about that bride whose name I’ve long since forgotten. Then I follow the crescent moon home over the mountains as the light gives way to twilight.