23 December 2008

divide and multiply

This holiday season, I have been slicing up my time into neat little packages: a lunch here, a sleepover there, and some furious holiday baking and last-minute gift shopping in between.

Shuffling back and forth via go train and street car, I managed to fit in a few visits (though not nearly as many as I should) during several consecutive snow storms. Nature and circumstance conspired against me in several ways. At one point, Amy and I were stranded for 3 hours after she drove over a recycling bin, jamming it into the wheel well of her mom's truck and rendering the vehicle immobile. Only hours later, I was trapped in between the track and a building, when a go train blasted me into the wall with a powerful assault of snow, ice, and rocks. I was the only one who had walked out onto the platform, so about 50-100 people watched from the comfort of the glass shelters as my suitcases and I were absolutely covered in snow.

Cabs were hard to come by, and the walking was tough with my heavy bags, but each time I reached a destination or saw the familiar face of a friend or family member greeting me, suddenly, all the wintery strife was forgotten.

Let's face it, some times it really sucks to divide up my time and my visits into short intervals in different cities and towns. It's a logistical nightmare and it involves a lot of me lugging bags in snowstorms. It also sometimes makes me sad that people I love are so spread out, that they don't know or necessarily get along with each other, and that I am never able to see everyone I want to.

I take the train from Montreal to Toronto. I am picturing, in the moving blackness out the window, all the things I will do and all the questions I will ask and all the faces I will finally see again in person over the holidays. In my pocket agenda, I know who I get to see, and what we will do. A lot of this is determined by the schedules of not only my friends, but by their families, boyfriends, children, fiancés. My extended world is growing at an alarming rate.

Initially, I was thrown off as I planned this trip. Organizing visits is becoming a lot more complicated with so many more people thrown in the mix. My life is fragmented enough without taking into account the increasingly carved up and weighed- out time slots of my friends. We used to have each other and holidays with immediate families. Now we have lunches with mothers-in-law, office christmas parties, baby showers of co-worker's fianceés...and so it goes.

Clearly, this is how it goes. How, you know, life goes. As the fingers of my childhood friends are steadily being colonized by diamonds, and our conversations shift to matters of 5-year plans and mortgages, I feel a knot forming in my stomach.

But something changes in me once I actually arrive and start spending time with my friends and family and the new people in their lives. I see changes in them that make me so proud and reassured. I take an immediate liking to the people who have stolen my time with my friends, and quickly understand why they have captured their hearts. I don't feel usurped. Instead, I feel a space open up in my heart and in between our lives that can only be filled by what is new.

Even though, over many drinks, my friends and I laughed at Kait when she said, "your heart just swells," at this time of life, I think she was brave to own up to this uncomfortably strong, sweeping feeling.

When I met Rozzie's 3-month-old nephew, Mason (feet pictured above), I recognized what I'm sure is clear to others but hasn't been to me: that as things grow and change, I don't have to divide myself into pieces and become less than whole. I'm not losing anything. Rather, I make room for new people, traditions, and feelings as I grow up.

The multiple lives I live now, filled with those I love (and those they love) in countless cities, are richer than any simple, streamlined life I could ever struggle to create.

Merry Christmas.

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