By Caitlin Kelly
It’s too funny that these bricks lie in the driveway of my apartment building in suburban New York, since Toronto is my hometown. I have no idea how they ended up here, but they have long been a comfort on homesick days.
Today is my birthday, and a time to reflect on the current state of the union, as it were.
Things are good!
I’m blessed with a loving husband, good friends and health, food in the fridge, money in the bank and work lined up for the next few months. I feel — for the moment! — really relaxed from a terrific two-week vacation in which I made a dozen new friends and colleagues, a bonus. I re-connected with old friends — two lovely women half my age in Tucson. I found some pretty new clothes and had a road trip alone.
But the brick thing is a good analogy.
It’s taken many years to assemble this little wall aka my life. Brick by brick. Short of a Harry Potter wand, you can’t simply will an entire wall, or building, into instant existence. It comes slowly, each brick something you choose (some are defective), lay carefully into place, chink with mortar, align with the others already there. It takes time, and devoted attention, and skill and persistence.
My life has been like that. My 20s were a terrific time for career and friendships and travel — but utter misery romantically.
I moved to Montreal, met the man I would marry (the first time), and had a fantastic apartment cheap — but hated the long frigid winter, missed my Toronto pals and didn’t much like the paper I worked for. The bricks just wouldn’t line up!
Then, after moving to New York, I checked a new bunch of boxes in my early 30s: get married, buy an apartment, re-start my career in journalism.
Then the husband bailed, three recessions hit journalism and I lost my best friend to…who knows what? Our friendship just blew up, never to be re-constituted.
It was a lonely, broke, frustrating few years. I thought they would never end.
Brick by brick.
But I made a few new friends, (and lost a few more along the way). I found a new agent, then another. I got two books published. Built up my reputation as a writer. Did a bunch of volunteer work. Met my second husband.
It is a much slower process than one might prefer. We live in hasty, impatient times — if a website fails to load, or amuse us, within seconds — gone! On-line dating offers us endless (we think) romantic options. When life refuses to race along accordingly, we get pissed and angry and whiny and resentful. We want it all now!
I just hope the next year(s) continue to offer me bricks, mortar and the health with which to keep building…