Today in southern New Hampshire, the grounds crew at Keene State College has meticulously lined folding chairs all in a row in preparation for Sunday’s Commencement exercises. The weather forecast calls for a cold and rainy Mother’s Day; graduates and their families are advised to dress warmly for the outdoor ceremony, a little rain not being enough to stop the First Day of graduates’ post-collegiate lives.
Right now I’m far from the folding chairs that the grounds crew has meticulously lined all in a row in Fisk Quad. Instead, I’m typing these words in a guest room at the Cambridge Zen Center, where my ex-husband and I lived for 2 1/2 years in what feels like a previous lifetime. I’m typing these words in a guest room in a house full of ghosts because fate has lined all in a row–all in one town–a motley crew of bloggers I’ve long read and admired: Pica and Cassandra and Abdul-Walid and Leslee and qB. What better way to start the First Day of the rest of your life than by gathering a great conglomeration of friends old and new, even if a rainy nor’easter is ruining our hopes for Saturday morning birding.
And this guest stay at the Cambridge Zen Center, my old home, is the end of an era of sorts. In June, my ex-husband will move back into this house full of ghosts with the girlfriend I met in January, thereby transforming what was My/Our space into His/Their space. Part of me is a bit jealous of this new stage in my ex-husband’s life, for by returning to live in a place we shared, he gets a second chance to sidestep all those old mistakes with someone new. At the same time, though, I know my awkward feelings will pass as I continue on a path I’ve chosen and know is right: the aftermath of divorce really is a kind of commencement, the start of something new whether heaven shines or showers on that moment.
In the meantime, in a matter of hours I will meet my blog-friends old and new for breakfast here in Cambridge, and before that, I will rise for morning practice–a staple from that previous lifetime–and bow, chant, and sit beside old Dharma friends. The Zen Center was always a nurturing place for me, its Sangha sating a hunger that not even a husband could satisfy. My practice has always been closely tied to community: the people I eat, sit, or chant with have always been my kin. In a matter of hours, I will sit with Dharma friends and then eat with blog-friends, this great conglomeration of companions cherished as a blessing, gathered and grinning all in a row.