+ Riding the Metro into the city the other day, I saw a woman, probably in her twenties, who (like many people riding the rails) had her iPod on, earbuds plugged in.  Unlike many others, though, she was mouthing the words, and dancing to whatever she was listening to.   She wasn’t like some of our friends and neighbors often seen on the train– slightly nutty or inebriated–she was just, it seemed, happy.  And it occurred to me that you can’t dance if you’re unhappy.  I tried to picture myself wanting to dance when I was stressed or sad or angry or even tired, and I couldn’t.   I knew without a doubt that this girl was having a good day, because she was dancing– by herself, for herself–just because.  It was something I’d never thought about, but made me wonder:  what else is like that, what else do we only do when we’re happy?

+ Girls Gone Child had a lovely post recently about children playing in a playground.  How kids like her son will just walk into a playground, go up to the first child they see, say hello and ask, “Do you want to play?”  And then, friends in an instant, the children will play for as long as they’re there– making up games, playing make-believe, having fun, just being.  The author then notes how different the parents appear– all self-segregated, shy, sizing each other up, insecure.  And it is so true.  The children don’t see different socioeconomic backgrounds, they don’t talk politics, judge appearances, worry about looking like a loser.

     I’ve been thinking lately about how we as people really just want to be around like-minded people; that while we may have friends with whom we disagree, the folks we most enjoy spending time with are the ones who share our basic value and belief systems.  You can see people visibly relax when they realize the person to whom they’re speaking gets them, agrees with them.   While some of us may like to debate or argue with people, at the end of the day I’d bet we also just want to relax with like-minded people.  That’s when we can let our guard down, can trust that we’re not going to have to defend something we feel strongly about against the disagreement or skepticism of another.  I find myself feeling very lonely at times in certain circles of my daily life– like I don’t truly relax until I am back in the company of like-minded people.  I might enjoy spending time with those others, but I never feel at peace, at home.

+ I’ve also been thinking about all the things we don’t say to one another, either out of kindness or to avoid an awkward situation, or because we don’t want to offend or because we feel guilty or feel it’s not our place.  Even among our most intimate relationships, among those people we love and know best in the world, think of all the things we don’t say, for one reason or another.  Not that that’s a bad thing, by any means, it’s just interesting, the spaces that remain between us.

+  I had absolutely no idea, when I became a mother, how difficult the daily struggle would be, between balancing work and mothering.  I don’t mean the day-to-day stresses, but the emotional divide I feel.   Every time I drop AE off at daycare I am sad.  And yet, when I am in the midst of doing what  I love (professionally), I am so happy, so energized.  One day last week AE was in daycare for a full 8.5-hour day, which is rare.  And though I had a great, fulfilling, productive day, when I picked her up and realized that I’d missed an entire day, including the couple of hours we usually spend together in the morning, I felt so wistful, nostalgic.  I think it’s a case of “the grass is always greener,” because I know, when I sit there struggling with an essay and longing to just be with AE, hanging out, that that’s not always how it is, that it’s not always fun and games, that I am not, when it’s happening, enjoying every second of it.  And I know that if I chose to stay at home, I would feel this vague sense of something missing.  So instead I have a vague sense of something missing in both roles.  Which is fine, and normal, and healthy, I know.  But sometimes it’s really, really, emotionally taxing, to constantly feel pulled between two heart’s desires.  I knew that these kinds of feelings would arise from time to time; I just didn’t know it’d be every day.  That every leave-taking, no matter the reason, would be tinged with sadness.  Of course, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but one thing parenthood is teaching me is that almost everything is bittersweet, each moment is so precious and yet it so easily slips by.  In one moment you can feel the utmost joy and the utmost pain.  It’s a strange, new way of life.