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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

The Circus is Leaving Town

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Ten years ago Friday, Andrea and I got engaged. The time seems to have passed both quickly and slowly – at the same time. As Gretchen Rubin says, “the days are long but the years are short.”

It’s funny how time passes and shapes things. Truth be told, I’m going through somewhat of an identity crisis. I’m reconciling the person I once viewed myself as against the contrast of what’s emerging. I’ve been the breadwinner. Out in front. It’s been a marathon, not a sprint. And while I was in the front, Andrea quietly slid up beside me then rocketed forward. I’m still in the race but the landscape is different now. Who am I if I’m not the breadwinner? This problem, like many of my problems, is a middle class white girl problem. And I’m thankful that these problems are mine and I'm grateful to my friend Sean who named my problems so accurately. There’s a guy who eats in the cafeteria of my work who looks so much like Sean that I can’t help but stare at him - - his hair color, his build, the pattern of his hair. Part of me wants to ask, “Are you related to Sean Caulfield?” I don’t because, what if he is? Or what if he isn’t? He just resembles this deceased, funny man who called it like he saw it: middle class, white girl problem.



Please don't misunderstand me: I am happy for Andrea and proud of her. And I'm a beneficiary of her success.


Last January, I returned to a company I love and believe in. Different role. The company changed while I was away. Not in a bad way - in a way that left me scrambling to catch up. Where do I find that? How do we do this? It too is a marathon.


Here we are - on the brink of moving to Virginia. It feels like I have more than boxes to unpack. I see writing as one way to do this.


“The “for sale” sign outside of our home now has a little cap indicating “sale pending”. And pending is kind of how life feels now. We’re loosening our grip on 5 Parkhurst Drive and setting our sights ahead - to residing at Amanda Court, Andrea working in Virginia, my work arrangement shifting.


There's a book called, Wild Words, by Nicole Gulotta. Gulotta has a podcast by the same name. In episode 5, Gulotta interviewed memoirist Elissa Altman in an episode called “The Physical Toll of Book Writing. In August of 2019, Altman had published a book called, “Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing and Longing.” After finishing the manuscript for Motherland, Altman posted on Instagram about the physical toll that writing her emotionally charged book took on her body. During and after the writing of Motherland, Altman wrote about the “team” she’d assembled to do so – her chiropractor, therapist, others. I’ve assembled my own team to get me through this move. To help sort out all the tangled up feelings that come with a move and to help me back to who I am.


We’re having a “farewell” open house on March 7th. I’m the kind of person who thinks about pulling up my tent stakes in the middle of the night and fleeing town. Like the circus. Just go – reassemble in Virginia. Only, I’d never do this because for one, it IS an admittedly dick move. Andrea and our friends would never let me get away with it. And I’d have regret and I think regret is a bunch of bullshit so here we are. Party planning.


On Sunday, I got together with someone whom I met approximately 20 years ago in Massachusetts. This person was a member of my team. They helped me through a prior identity crisis - - that one left me realizing I was in love with Andrea, alcoholic and had approximately zero gd boundaries. This crisis can’t possibly be as traumatic – out of state move and bread-winning wife aside. Seeing this person got me thinking about everyone here in Massachusetts who has been a member of my team. People who have helped me find myself – and return to myself time and time again. If you're really lucky, you have your own team. The team ebbs, flows, morphs over the years. People come and go - "reason, season, lifetime". I’m really grateful I got to see this person on Sunday – and I’m looking forward to seeing other members of our team, our tribe, on March 7th.



“Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are.” Joss Whedon


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