Flashback to 2000. My hair was short then, too. My friends and I read books on spellcraft, moon cycles, astrology and tarot. We favored pregnant women and full-bellied goddesses in our artwork, dark makeup on our eyes, and conversation about coincidences and fate. I never took off my pendant of a goddess holding the sun in upstretched arms.
For the first time in many years, my family lived in the type of prewar home we’d coveted since my parents sold their last house when I was six. Taking long walks past oak trees and brick tudors, greeted by elderly men watering their lawns and fit women walking their golden retrievers, I fell in love with the tranquil domestic life surrounding me. Suddenly the antisocial feminist teenager wanted a family and children. What’s more, making spells and making soup seemed part of the same mindset: doing things by hand, looking to the past, listening more and making less noise.
After I graduated high school in June, my family flew to England, where we planned to spend three weeks exploring the country and finding me an under-the-table job. I was going to stay there a year. I returned at the end of three weeks, chastened by a hotelier who, about to hire me until he learned I had no work permit, said, “The only place you’ll find a job without a permit is in a fish and chip caravan on the side of the highway.” Dazed, I watched country music videos in a Vancouver hotel room and wept with gratitude that I didn’t have to leave my family behind yet.
Funny to realize that it took eight years and a few months to learn how little impact distance has on familial love.
Over the next several months, my earthiness expanded from a dirt clot to a natural wonder big enough to rival Mt. Rushmore. My girlfriends and I formed a circle on a full moon night and raised a cone of energy, that, had we opened our eyes, surely would have risen above the rooftops. I baked bread. I got a dull job in Seattle, stopped shaving my legs, and exchanged synchronicity stories with another desk agent. I dreamed about umbrellas to find it raining twenty minutes after I left the house for work. After reading about animal totems, I stopped killing the enormous spiders that continually invaded my basement room.
I moved back home from Seattle to Spokane and the earth on my feet turned to cement. My immediate family became my only company. I sank into a knitting haze, surrounded by wool, whenever I wasn’t writing or obsessing about writing or teaching myself HTML or sleeping or pretending to sleep. I took long walks. My tarot cards provided no answers, and eventually I was too depressed to even write. Those five years were the stickiest and most fear-based of my life, and it would have been easy to leave most of the interests I had at that time in a quarantined area of my brain, forever associated with self-imprisonment.
For two years on the East Coast, I didn’t bake, cast spells, or take long walks, except those from the West Village to the Lower East Side. I left my tarot cards and knitting needles in the drawer, wrote little besides blogs, and preferred the energy of crowds rushing to work on Madison Avenue to the energy of children playing on a suburban street. I needed to make noise.
The house I arrived at three days ago looks over green pastures and, eventually, the sea. My host-mother owns a horse and their dog has free ramble of the overgrown garden. Three children leave toys and books scattered across dining table, driveway and couch. The house has stone walls outside, plaster with exposed beams inside. The wind blows through the trees, shaking the tiny ivy leaves climbing their trunks. The kitchen smells like apples and cookies.
Yesterday my fingers started itching for a nice woolly yarn and some size 8 needles.
If you weigh the days I’ve spent knitting versus the nights I’ve spent partying in the past ten years, the wool tips the scales. But, living with my folks and daydreaming about starting a family of my own, I was never willing to take the kinds of risks necessary to create that family. I couldn’t trust new people, try new places, or test myself- how did I think I’d be able to pay bills, feed screaming children, or simply commit day in and day out to another human being? I couldn’t date- how in the world was I going to marry?
Eight years ago I brought suitcases filled with superstition, fear, desire, creativity and curiosity to England. Customs sent me home for bringing excess baggage. Today, having nearly forgotten this was ever my plan, I’m back, and with only two bags instead of ten. I’m surprised to find old inclinations returning. I’m hesitant, after so much change, to trust I’ll be here long enough to listen to them. But my need to bake bread is returning, and this time, doing so might not ruin me. I may do it because I love it, and not because I’m afraid to do anything else.