There’s something I’ve noticed about the way things begin—at least, for me. The new vista opens up ahead, bright and shiny and new, but just before I can step into it, the whole scene freezes. It’s as though someone has pressed “pause” on the TV. And I have to do that thing I really hate to do: wait out the pause.
Life is rich with beginnings just now. It’s early spring here in the northern hemisphere, and desperation for winter to be over is a constant drone note in our household. Last night on a call with family, Marty almost shouted, “I’m done. I NEED spring.” The daffodils are out but the snow flurries continue. We’re in the pause.
And of course, winter isn’t just winter for us all right now. Winter is also the pandemic, an endless dark, cold season like the winters in the Game of Thrones universe, which can last a decade or more. And because the big hairy finger of covid pressed pause on our collective Netflix special two years ago, the waiting really does seem interminable.
Right now my inventure, in so many parts of life, is in the pause that comes before the beginning. The moment between the exhale and the next inhale. Like a fairytale spell waiting to be broken. Sleeping beauty, except the fair slumbering maiden is our whole damn lives.
Marty has been trying to fight her way into her new book, wrestling the keyboard, shouting and pounding—all the things that I now know precede the flow of the writing for her. She’s not there yet. But she will be soon.
Lila is poised to explode with language. She so badly wants to express herself that it’s alternately painful and hilarious to watch. She’s definitely locked in the pause. When we talk to my mom on FaceTime every night, Lila attempts to make conversation. With a look of great intensity on her face, she nods and speaks nonsense syllables, watching our faces to see if it’s working yet.
Not yet, kiddo. But soon.
Meanwhile, Karen is considering playing some golf again when the weather improves. I’m waiting for my mom’s arrival from Australia. Adam is eagerly awaiting his 34th birthday in May.
Yesterday, in the spirit of spring, I dragged a box of pre-maternity clothes down from the attic to see if any of them fit me. There was a strangeness to the process. It was almost absurd to try dressing myself again in clothing that had been worn by such an innocent body. But I’m a pragmatist, so I got past that and tried them on for size. Not yet. But soon.
an agony of waiting
Tracy, a member of this inventurous community, wrote about this so movingly in the introductions thread. She wrote about a lymphoma diagnosis, years of tough treatment, and then:
“Just as I was carefully trying to re enter society the lock down occurred so my immunocompromised self was back in isolation. A Tracy 2.0 trapped in a bubble trying to discover how to live my newly gifted life.”
Tracy’s “bubble” is such a great image of the pause and how agonizing it can really be.
breaking and entering
So, how do we break the spell? I believe the lesson is taught by the seasons. We can’t break the spell ourselves. We have to somehow make peace with the waiting. And then, one day a hint of movement will arrive, and as though we’ve been kissed by a prince (ew), we will be reanimated.
For me, one spell at least has been broken. For six months or more now, I’ve wanted to find a way to write regularly and connect with readers. This wish waited and waited, fast asleep, until the time was right. I happened to hear a podcast about Substack by my brilliant friend Emma Gannon recently, and I immediately knew the spell was breaking. You know the feeling I mean, right? When a trace of running water comes trickling into the frozen scene? It’s unmistakable when it finally happens.
So yes, I’ve found this little corner of the internet where we can be together and talk to each other. And suddenly I can inhale. The air is sweet and fresh and cool, and I’m looking around to see that I’m surrounded by friends.
May all our pauses come before a riotous festival of fresh growth. Let it be a cacophony of dancing and music and play.
And while I wait for the other spells in my life to break, as they must, I’m just so grateful that I’m here, breathing with you all.
This article originally appeared on Rowan’s Wild Inventures substack newsletter. To subscribe and get all Rowan’s posts in your inbox, head over to Wild Inventures on substack now.