The Last Four Months / by Susie Lubell


Hi. It's me. Susie.

The last four months have been difficult. For many reasons. And whereas difficulty and stress once made me want to express and communicate and share and storytell, now it makes me quiet. That may be a sign of maturity. Or depression. There have been good times. Proper laughing big smile silly dancing chocolate good times. But mostly stress and concern and overwhelm. And I am sick of it.

We moved. We bought a house last December and it was finished in June and we moved into it. So with the exception of five glorious child-free days in Berlin with Mr. Rosen, we spent all of May packing. Ourselves. We didn't hire anyone and that was a mistake and if we ever move again which I never will so help me lord almighty (that's not true. We will probably move a few more times because I love to suffer) I will hire someone. A bunch of people. I will hire a staff of specialists to help me do it. I will hire a box guy and bubble wrap guy and a guy to move heavy things and a guy to move light things and a guy to supervise all of my guys. I will do the opposite of what we did which was haul all of our boxes in our Mazda 5 and all of our furniture tied to the top of it. Only a mile away but still. Schlepping your refrigerator and your sofa and your armoir on the top of a car is dumb. Almost as dumb as climbing on top of your car when you are eight months pregnant to adjust the mountain bike that fell over when you pulled into a parking spot at Anthropologie under a low hanging tree.

But we did it. We moved the whole place ourselves. From a place with a garage to a place without a garage which means finding space indoors for all the crap that really has no business being indoors. Like bike tires. And a table saw. Whatever. But we barely had a week to unpack before...

The war.

And then there was a war. And every single person lost their shit. People stopped making any sense at all and I went on defense. People called the war a genocide and I felt compelled to point out that the population of Gaza has been growing steadily in the double digits for decades. People said that the Palestinian people never really existed anyway but I thought they should know that these were actually the people living here before the Jews moved back in the early 1900s. People said the war wasn't fair because we had a defense system that worked really well and we should have also built one for Gaza. Um, that was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard until I heard people say Palestinian moms want their children to die for the cause. And then I was done. People spewed their hatred and misconceptions and lies on social media platforms the world over like they'd been waiting for years for just the right reason. And this was it.

But we eeked out a decent, even pretty good, summer. My kids slept in our our secure room all of July and August. We didn't go to the beach because they were bombing the beach. We didn't spend time at their grandparents house because they were bombing the city where they live. We listened for sirens and even now, a month later, my three year hears the phantom wailing and asks if we need to lie down. We still managed to have fun and having to stay close to home made us do less and that was just fine. And sleeping all together was like one long slumber party. Friends who were supposed to come cancelled. Unexpected visitors did come! We even took a family vacation to Slovenia which was magical and wonderful and we prayed the cease fire that began when we left would stick for our return. It didn't.

And all this time I kept quiet. The few times I posted something that made any kind of sense to me, someone else, mainly folks I didn't even know, felt compelled to set me straight. So I shut down. Because none of it mattered. There were no more facts. Only stories.

And then it was over. Just like that. People were protesting all around the world against Israelis and Jews and Hamas and the war and the media and then it was over and every one went about their business even as ISIS mass killings and starvation tactics and beheadings were just revving up. I guess every one was sick of protesting by then (she said while trying to retrieve her eyeballs from the back of her head). We all breathed. The kids went back to school. And it was as though nothing happened. Except something big had happened and I'm still experiencing a kind of loss. But there was no time to process or get back into any kind of routine because then Grandma came for two weeks and we ran around mad trying to find plants for the house and frame pictures for the house and buy hooks for the house and fix things that broke when we moved and still be home in time to get the kids from school and take them to the dentist and take them to judo and make dinner and piano and make lunch and scouts and buy groceries and do the laundry and do the laundry and do the laundry. And while it was fun and wonderful and its own kind of therapy, it was exhausting.

And now it's high holidays and I'm hosting and cooking and cleaning and getting together and making plans and it feels a little bit like choking. I need to SLOW DOWN. I need to stop rushing. I need to walk. And enjoy. And breathe in the autumn air. I need time to myself. I need to take inventory. I need to refill where I've been depleted. I need to paint. I need to garden. I need to take pictures again and share and express and communicate. Because it's been four months. And that's a long time to stay quiet.