by Jennifer on September 19, 2008

I was in the middle of nowhere, but I felt as though I had arrived at someplace important and pivotal. A place that should show on some map of my life with the words Go here.

Heavy and golden, the moonlight sank to earth on a parachute of stars and brought everything around me out of the shadows. The hulking shapes of mountains, open space, a black ribbon of road. Far away, the light of one house.

I stood in the middle of a road in northwestern Montana, shivering with the wind that ran through me like a hundred ghosts. I had stopped to get out, to look, to take it all in. No other car would pass by while I stood there. The night was big. The world was big. How many times had the wind that filled my lungs traveled along the curve of the earth? I breathed in, sure it told me secrets of what my life could be, how big it could be, now that it was all mine again.

Back home in Connecticut, my job waited for me and my husband did not. Our separation was new, no older than a month. With less fuss than it took to plan our wedding, we decided to break apart the marriage, each of us taking uneven halves of the whole, pieces that had never quite fit together and always left a space between two people who tried.

I settled into a new place and then took every vacation day and every bit of cash I could, and I drove—this time, from Connecticut to the western side of Montana, 5000 miles in 12 days. It was the middle of September—now, almost to the date. This time every year, I give myself over to nostalgia for that trip and for the person I was then. Brave. Unafraid to go as far as that, alone, to see something beautiful, to be changed.

And despite the disappointment of a marriage that ended, I still thought I could see ahead and predict the future, or shape it.

The joke was on me, of course. On her, on the person I was that night, eight months before I would learn that I was pregnant with my first child. Whatever I thought was brave or scary before hitched a ride to somewhere far away.

But she learned. You want scary? I told her. Having a baby is scary. Cobbling together a life with another person, with a new life between you, takes guts. Believing that it will all work out? Harder still.

At times, it’s hard for me to look at the photos from that trip. In them, I see how formed she thinks she is, how much she cushions the ache of her want, how tender she is with her hopes. How she still believes that there are answers to be found in a kiss, or on the curve of the moon.

I want to tell her what’s coming, and that she will get through it. That what is scary just might save her. That having children, though she didn’t plan it, will root her to her place in the world, no matter where or how far she goes. That she won’t want to go alone, always, and that she won’t lose herself completely, even when she is sure that she has. That one, I would tell her over and over and over. Or, I will. I do.

And most of all, even though I will never find words to explain how I know it, I would tell her that she’s right about one thing: That the moon—constant and round and white—is still, somehow, an answer.


Kelcey at The Mama Bird Diaries inspired my thoughts here with her own post a few days ago, Confessions of a Wife and Mother. I hope you’ll stop by and read it, and leave her a comment and tell her that she’s so insightful, and has great hair. Because she is, and she does.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Ree September 19, 2008 at 5:45 am

I will go tell her that, but first, I want to tell you. Insight? You have it. Great hair? yea, that too.

Rees last blog post..Letter to My Husband

RiverPoet September 19, 2008 at 6:25 am

Its always interesting to look back to see where you were and how far you’ve come. I think it’s a blessing that we don’t have a crystal ball to view the future. We would certainly think we didn’t have the strength or courage to face what was coming.
Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..Descent

Susan September 19, 2008 at 7:52 am

It’s so intresting how we know just where we are and where we are going…until life laughs at us and takes us on a whole different path.

I often think of things that I would tell my younger selft, then realize that there is no way I would listen to my older, wiser words. I was so independent and thought I knew everything…

Louise September 19, 2008 at 9:00 am

I’m speechless.

Who took the absolutely beautiful picture?

Ok, some thoughts are forming. Life IS scary. It’s scary for all of us. I will heartily admit more so for some than others, and that mine hasn’t been as scary as iti has been for some. But every day there are scary things. Every day. I would love to go a whole week with nothing that scares me. Maybe not abject fear, but just, “How am I going to get this done?” or “What are we going to do about her?” But it all makes us stronger, and it makes most of us wiser. And for you, it has added to your coffers of amazing phrases you can pull out of your head when you are writing.

Louises last blog post..Another Sunset–SkyWatch

flutter September 19, 2008 at 9:53 am

beautiful. insightful, whole. You are glorious.

flutters last blog post..Day one: Murphy’s Law

the mama bird diaries September 19, 2008 at 9:58 am

What a beautiful piece Jennifer. You put me right back in Montana, where you can stand on a road that stretches for miles and miles, without seeing another car or human for hours.

And thank you for your very kind words about my post and of course, my hair.

the mama bird diariess last blog post..the sarah palin wars

Daryl September 19, 2008 at 10:17 am

What an insightful post … I can ‘see’ what you saw, what you felt … again I say woman you paint with words .. and it takes me there …

Daryls last blog sky

maggie, dammit September 19, 2008 at 10:31 am

Gorgeous. Perfect.

maggie, dammits last blog post..Inside the steamer

Crazycath September 19, 2008 at 2:42 pm

I hear you so loud. I am there with you. I am there.

You write so beautifully. And so true to yourself. Brilliant.

Crazycaths last blog post..You Couldn’t Make It Up

Carolyn September 19, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Sigh. That was just beautiful. Extraordinary writing. I’m so glad to be back. I’ve missed your silky words and gorgeous imagery. It’s like a soft caress on my soul. Thanks!

Carolyns last blog post..number nine. the big tease is over.

Emily R September 19, 2008 at 4:39 pm

A lovely post.

Emily Rs last blog post..Thirty-eight plus one

jenrantsraves September 19, 2008 at 5:10 pm

When I read some of your posts, I have so much I want to say that I don’t know where to start. I want to sit down with you and discuss it at length! I think it is so interesting how often I am thinking about something, and it will appear in another woman’s blog. We are all so connected as human beings, and we don’t even realize it. I am glad that you made it out of that place, stronger and happier and wiser. Beautiful post.

texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvana September 19, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Ahhhh…that was an amazing road trip. I love the way you tell a story.

texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvanas last blog post..And then my children begged me for real vegetables

Jenn @ Juggling Life September 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm

That was very brave. A woman with a past . . . I love it.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Best Family

Milena September 20, 2008 at 8:06 am

What Flutter said. You are Glory indeed.

Milenas last blog post..Because someday you might ask how your father and I met – Part I

Lisa Milton September 20, 2008 at 3:57 pm

This post gives me new courage, when things don’t seem to fall into place.


Suzanne September 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

It is amazing how a place can be so evocative of where we have been, and where we are now and how we got there. An amazing journey you have had, and beautifully said.

Julie Pippert September 21, 2008 at 9:35 am

I have sometimes wondered what I might say to myself at any point in time, and I usually end up just saying nothing (in my imagination) out of fear that I’d never help and might mess up something good LOL.

Julie Pipperts last blog post..How you can help recent hurricane and tropical storm victims

Rhea September 21, 2008 at 7:28 pm

I love Kelcey’s blog. I was excited to see she inspired this post.

That being said, this was a wonderful post. I love the term “parachute of stars” and you wrote such beautiful images.

There are so many times in my life I’ve look back on photos and it’s hard to see what I was going through. Life is so gosh darn hard sometimes…but so we can appreciate the good times, right?

Rheas last blog post..The Starbucks Experience – brought to you live & personal

JCK September 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

I loved this Jennifer. Loved it. You are such an amazing writer. I can’t wait until your first published novel!!

JCKs last blog post..A very, VERY DARK tale told by a BOY and a GIRL

Reluctantfarmchik September 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm

The fact that you (or she) took that road trip means that there’s another one in there for you. Always the possibility. You may or may not have to take it, but you have what it takes to go, when the need arises. That’s a great starting (or stopping) point. Another excellent share. Is it as effortless as it seems?

jen September 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm

yes to what everyone else has said.
i overheard someone the other day…upon questioning “2 people that you would want to have dinner with”…myself 10 years ago and myself in 10 years.
how true?

Ann September 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm

I always think back to my young self and wish I could tell her a million things, and nurture her. I also think forward 10 years and wonder what I’d tell myself now.

Anns last blog post..Blobs Of Peace

Allen September 22, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Years ago I drove a bunch of colleagues up to Oregon’s Mt. Hood Timberline Lodge for dinner. After a splendid meal, we started the trip down the twisty, mountain-hugging road. It was late September, a perfectly clear evening with a new moon, so I pulled off the road and told everyone to get out so we could take advantage of the cloudless night to really see the stars.

Almost as soon as we had all gotten out, Kurti, a lady from Santa Clara, CA said, “Allen, it’s not cloudless. See? There’s a cloud right up there.”

“Kurti, that’s not a cloud. That’s the Milky Way.” She was so overcome w/emotion she wept, saying over and over again, “I cannot believe I’m actually seeing the Milky Way. I cannot believe this. Oh my!” And had I a sleeping bag in the Suburban I’m sure Kurti would’ve stayed there all night.

The point? What was so obvious to me was a new revelation for Kurti. And that’s how life continues to skip along, with new revelations arriving around each bend in the road or beyond each “cloud” in the sky.

we_be_toys September 23, 2008 at 6:33 am

God I love to read your words!

It’s funny when we look back at our younger selves, those bold proto-types of who we have become. I thought I knew everything, now I know I don’t know doodly!
Here’s to those lovely roots, our children!

we_be_toyss last blog post..Meet My Hamster (aka, The Long Downward Spiral And It’s Wherefore)

Bruce September 23, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Excellent Post….wonderful read. I cannot recount how many times I have had the same thoughts or the same moments of epithany and wonder. You can never have enough, you can never be amazed at how much we have learned or how far we have comes. My blog is littered with recollections like this one. I hope I never run out of them.

Bruces last blog post..Its Not Just Me

Momisodes September 24, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Such a beautiful post. As beautiful as the landscape in your photo. It’s always a bit tough looking back. It always amazes me how much emotion comes surging back from looking back on a mere photo, or hearing a familiar tune.

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