After a night of troubled sleep and nightmares (the third one in a row), my first question to myself this morning was, “How might I just go gracefully into this depression?” For five days I have been grumpy, fighting what I know comes every year when the end of school smacks me in the face, when a manageable routine ends and I have to begin improvising my dance through days of unknowns, face chaos I have been able to ignore for the sake of to-do lists, and realize again the very alone feeling I have had as long as I can remember.

Last night, when everyone else danced around the kitchen table, and the baby smacked his tray to the beat, and my four year old yelled things from the other room, and I asked for some quiet, but my husband turned the music loud on his phone anyway, I got up, grabbed my keys, quietly walked out the front door, got in the car, and drove away. At the end of the street I texted that I couldn’t handle the commotion and I would be back in ten minutes. As I wound through the neighborhood I remembered evenings in college when I would drive around town blasting my music and dwelling hard in my feelings. As I turned onto the main road, I remembered weekends in my twenties when I would hit the road for long trips to see my friends in Illinois, savoring the routine of my known rest stops. As I navigated the roads of my town, I thought about quiet walks I would take as a child, down wooded paths in the subdivisions my parents lived in. How, one time, I left my mom’s house for hours and walked around the park until I felt more present, and then I walked home again.

I thought about all of these times where, to go more gracefully into my depression, I simply went. I walked or drove away and saw something new and lived in that space for a few minutes or hours or days and cracked myself back into place and went home again. Now, at 38, with four children, this going away is not so easy. Last night I could drive for ten minutes, but I could not go for hours. This Friday, I can go find a quiet place by myself for an hour or so while everyone is at school, but I have other responsibilities that await me, too. My daughter Kari and I daydream about “our quiet little house,” a place where everything is sparse and tidy and serene. I imagine it is a little white house, with a small garden for contemplatively picking weeds and watching something grow, a quiet little house with warm blankets and a fireplace, with a big wooden table for me to sit at to read and write, with a place for her to draw.

To go more gracefully, I will begin by eliminating the tangible chaos, by finishing the laundry that I ignored while I was grading final papers, by conquering the pile on the end of the table, by picking up rooms that have too much stuff in them for my children to know where to begin. I will fill empty boxes. I will recycle paper. I will make spaces for drawing and writing. Then, though I cannot go away to do it, instead of fighting against the thinking, I will just dwell here. Maybe in my office, in a chair from my grandparents’ cabin, in a room filled with books and with pictures of all of the history that brought me to this moment, here, maybe here I will think the long thoughts.

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