Getting Back to Happiness

It’s a picture perfect fall morning, and I am looking through the bay window just behind our dining room. A postcard of red and orange splashed leaves hang from the tree.

I have been longing to be here in this space, where I can linger over the keyboard a little while. Where I can sit and just take in the warmth around me. If our old house was “the happy house,” then this one is surely “the light box.” It truly is a box of light at this hour of the morning and well into the late afternoon as the sun travels around to visit each of her windows. The rooms changing from an emerging yellow spark to an eventual soft orange glow.

It’s a place I could stay forever, both literally and figuratively. This room. This house. The place of light inside us all.

On a related topic, I have begun reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Here I Am. In the first chapter,”Get Back to Happiness,” we read of a middle-aged couple who have gone from that sacred space of worshiping each other and their relationship to a place where they “forgot to do things on purpose.” To where “the inside of life became far smaller than the outside, creating a cavity, an emptiness.”

This is a place that any tried and true couple can understand. That any person (period.) can understand. It’s uncanny how true these words are for me.

This time of year, around the Jewish New Year, is when my husband I celebrate our anniversary, and I often spend September and October remembering. Remembering “to do things on purpose.” To pay attention to the person I vowed to love and cherish. I “wake up” to the splashes of youth I can still see in his smile, that I may have been overlooking. I pull the cloth off of old rooms that we once inhabited. I look around. I pick up old relics. Hold them in my hands like prayer books. I begin to worship again this marriage and this person who made me in so many ways. Despite all of the feminist bones in my body, my current frame would not be possible without him.

And thus, I see so clearly how easy it can be to “get back to happiness.” It’s never very far, that box of light inside us. The love. The joy. The memories. They are always waiting, like fall leaves, just beneath the surface, biding their time. Until one day they can break into bright oranges and reds again.



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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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