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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

It's Already Gone

I haven’t written in a long while. Not because there’s nothing to say but because I’ve been busy trying things out in Richmond and seeing what takes root. When I was in either junior high or high school, I spotted something at a craft store that said, “Bloom where you’re planted.” And it resonated at the time – I’m not sure why but I was drawn to that phrase. So – here I am. Trying to bloom after another repotting. Back at the beginning of the pandemic, where the information shifted and changed daily, I remember thinking, “Huh. Social distancing? I’m an introvert. I’ll crush this.” It isn’t until many months later that I realize what I’m feeling is loneliness. And its months after that, when I’ve returned to a gym that has bootcamp style work outs that it’s not friendship that I’ve been longing for, it’s community. Being a part of something. Laughing with the others in my workout class – at ourselves and the banter. My new job is fully remote and most of the time, I really like that. Other times, I miss the community that happens organically in an office as you complain about the smell from whatever a colleague heated in the microwave, or as you grab a drink from the communal kitchen. I’ve begun to occassion one of those office spaces that you can rent for the day. Doing so ensures I put on real shoes and brush the back of my hair.

There are 75 days left in 2021 and they will fly by. Of this, I am certain. I spoke with my mom recently and she said something like, “You’ve had quite a year.” Yes.

On a prior phone call, months earlier, my mom asked if I missed working for my prior company. I replied that I missed the people there, only to later realize so many of them have left. I miss it in a way that’s nostalgic.

It’s like this – think back to your very first love. Remember that person? How they looked. What it was you liked about them and how you felt when you were with them. Let’s say your first love was when you were 16. Now imagine the opportunity to get back together with that person. I know - horrifying, right? It wouldn’t work. Neither of you are the same person you were then, and you can’t go back to being that person (I imagine my own 1991, Aqua Netted hair and I’m grateful for this).

One afternoon, I say to Andrea, “What if I visited Massachusetts and I didn’t want to come back to Richmond?”

“Well – we could move back to Massachusetts.” Andrea offers.

I think about it for a beat, “No. I don’t want that…” And it’s not just the prospect of another move that dissuades me.

One of my favorite television shows of all time is Six Feet Under. It’s a show about a family who lives in LA and runs a funeral home there. Each episode of the show began with a depiction of a death. Some mundane, other bizarre. In an episode, late in the series, Nate Fisher whispers into his sister’s ear as she snaps a family photo, “You can’t take a picture of this; it’s already gone.” The line haunts me and it sums up the situation with my old company and with living in Massachusetts.

My new company is the size of a single building, out of many, that I provided HR support to at my old company. I have big, ambitious plans here that I’ve pitched. My CEO says, “I love it all – I worry you’ll burn out.” I smile. Sure, my job is busy but it’s manageable in size and scope. When I first began working here, I thought my work email had gone down on the weekend because I’d noticed I wasn’t receiving emails one Saturday. I sent an email from my personal account to my work email then dubiously stared at the email titled, “TEST”, in my work in box. Huh. I’ve adjusted – blooming where I planted myself back in April.

Recently, I met a woman who lives near Richmond. She had posted on a Meetup board that she was looking for someone who would be willing to train for a 5k with her. I gamely replied and we agreed to meet over breakfast one Sunday. As I drove to breakfast that Sunday, I swatted away insecurities as they popped up - - would this person be in their 20s with a youthful physique and a body fat percentage in the teens? Turns out that Stephanie was not in her 20s and her body fat was blessedly north of the teens. Over breakfast, I learn that Stephanie is 47. Same age as me. We agree to text one another screenshots of our C25K progress and meet up for a run. I look out the window before a run to gather clues about the weather. Say that it’s windy and the leaves have begun to change color and it’s October. My brain thinks, “Fall. Cool.” And I look at the weather on my phone and am surprised to realize it’s still 80 degrees outside. I dress accordingly and run past homes that are decorated for Halloween. While I’m running, I feel – contentment? Joy? And it’s not just because the neighborhood is blessedly, relatively flat. This morning, it’s 50 degrees with a high of 60 forecasted. I’m headed out to run.

“We can never go back. We can rise up from our failures, screwups, and falls, but we can never go back to where we stood before we were brave or before we fell. Courage transforms the emotional structure of our being. This change often brings a deep sense of loss. During the process of rising, we sometimes find ourselves homesick for a place that no longer exists. We want to go back to that moment before we walked into the arena, but there’s nowhere to go back to. What makes this more difficult is that now we have a new level of awareness about what it means to be brave. We can’t fake it anymore. We now know when we’re showing up and when we’re hiding out, when we are living our values and when we are not. Our new awareness can also be invigorating—it can reignite our sense of purpose and remind”

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