Author’s Note: “Coming on the heels of two heritage surprises, derecho damage to our little farmstead, a parental death, a pandemic and husband’s resultant job loss, then two imminent major surgeries, his news of taking a job 1000 miles away was not welcome news. I was tired. But in the end, as in the end of any recent major upheaval, after the ranting and tears and anxiety, a small light of settling always appears.”
Editor’s Note: Through writing, authors give us the opportunity to connect and learn from each other’s experiences. The short essay concentrates emotions and thought.
An Essay, Probably on Aging
I ARRIVED IN GEORGIA LAST NIGHT, two 10-hour days of driving, gas stations, and cruddy restrooms. It’s different. Warmer. And something else, but I’m not sure what.
That gardening shed out back, he tells me, can be used for a writing studio. I’m sixty-five, I want to say; I needed that when I was thirty-five. But I simply nod and smile. It was an impetus to get me here, the shed with the promise of seclusion; this I know, this and the dishes he said he would wash and the food he said he would cook, his own laundry, no demands. It worked.
On Facebook, I tend to “love” far more than I “like,” and I’m not sure why. I’m outspoken about precious heart truths gruelingly learned over ages, but I also want to make sure people know I care. Maybe it’s a great failing, this loving and ranting in the same breath, but isn’t that what’s meant by Dylan Thomas’s “rage” at this endless progression? I don’t know that either, but it sure makes sense, and maybe someone, one person, will listen and be saved in some way, somehow.
What I know for sure is that my DNA has been linked to a tall man I never met, a man who didn’t raise me, a man who provided the building blocks for my existence but who didn’t want to know this person he found out about in 2018. I’m tall, like him. My hair is dark, like his. Our face shape is similar. In full emotional battle dress, I cried when the news came: “He doesn’t want anything to do with you.” I laid my sharpened sword aside, and my bow and arrows were put away while I wept, but only for a while. And then he died a few short days ago, and my mind is a mess.
So, in these first full hours in a state halfway across the continent, I organize, I minimize, I shop and help out the man in line in front of me at Walmart whose credit card isn’t working. I leave the store and text my sister about it via voice dictation, only to later discover the text didn’t go through. So, I drive to the strange place I now call home and tell my spouse about it. “I’m proud of you,” he says. “I would have done the same thing.” What I didn’t tell him was that I understated the amount paid. Would he have been okay with me dishing out double what I confessed? I don’t know. Maybe. I just know that I’m doing what I can for now, hoping it all matters someday, in the end, in this end so furiously peeking over my moments.
We have the sirens of the city here, something we seldom heard back home. There it was the chugging of tractors and the endless moos. I strangely feel as if my time here is limited though. I have more questions than the proverbial youth-inspired pat answers. I don’t always know what I should or want to know. But I’m learning that it’s okay. It’s all okay.
Chila Woychik is originally from “the beautiful land of Bavaria.” In addition to the Delmarva Review, she has been published in Cimarron, Passages North, among others, and has an essay collection, Singing the Land: A Rural Chronology (Shanti Arts, 2020). She won Storm Cellar’s 2019 Flash Majeure Contest and Emry’s 2016 Linda Julian Creative Nonfiction Award. She edits the Eastern Iowa Review. Website: www.chilawoychik.com
This essay is from Delmarva Review’s 15th edition, a nonprofit literary journal that selects the most compelling new nonfiction, fiction, and poetry from thousands of submissions annually. It is designed by its founders to encourage outstanding new writing for readers. The journal is available worldwide from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org.