Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tangled Up in Blue

I've been giving a lot of thought to exits, lately.  

In France, the word "sortie" means "exit."  I figured that out on my own at the tender age of 21.  While visiting Paris (and Europe) for the first time in my life, I realized after following the word "sortie" time after time and reaching "an exit"...that it, in fact, meant "exit."  Isn't it a lovely word?  Say it a few times.  It sounds happy and lilting and French-y frothy cafe au lait, doesn't it.  I remember thinking, very silently (as I could not let the others know how un-cultured I was) that it might make a lovely little girls name.  Something about it made me think of bouncing, bubbling little girls in pig tails gigging into the wind.

Exits are necessary.  Were it not for exits...nothing would ever change, end, diverge, converge, etc.  For that matter, new beginnings would never come to conception if not for some exit immediately preceding it.

I've personally experienced some amazing exits (not the least of which were those "sorties" from the Parisian subway up to Parisian ground level).  My exit from Kindergarten was a PRETTY big deal as my mother and Mrs. Westerkom did NOT agree one bit on my promotion into first grade.  (Don't worry...I proved mean ol' Mrs. Westerkom all kinds of wrong in the first grade!)  My graduation from high school was thrilling as I was exiting childhood and entering academia.  Exiting my first apartment was bittersweet as now there would be a mortgage but it was nice to shut the door to #7208 and create a new beginning in my current home.

Most exits are necessary; although rather benign.  Last night I exited Broadway to get to my destination.  I exited Vance Jackson to arrive home.  I exited the garage to enter the house.  I exited the restroom to retire to bed.  We make entrances and exits all day, every day, giving it as much thought as we give to breathing in and breathing out.  Exits are a function of living.

In my case some exits are absent minded mistakes and usually make me 10 minutes later than the 10 minutes I am ALREADY late.  Or sometimes, I might make an exit without a crucial item like my laptop or car keys or umbrella (that can make a very ugly hair situation).

And then there are the exits that break your heart.  They come in different forms but usually involve another person.  People exiting peoples lives is simply un-natural, in my opinion.  Okay, well, let me back up.  People exit through death all the time.  And while death is often expected and an absolute certainty in life, it is the most traumatic exit one can experience.  Michael, my cousin, made his very unexpected exit from this world on March 23.  The best I can describe his exit is as a roller coaster of overwhelming sadness, mixed in with uproarious laughter, dotted with wonderful memories and various sorts of visitations he has blessed upon those who love him.  In his death; he still feels so alive.  What a beautiful testimony to a life well lived.  Nevertheless, his untimely exit has weighed so heavy on our hearts.  This exit feels selfish.  In our human-ness we want him here, we want him back.  Humans are selfish....but only because we have the capacity to love so deeply.  It's like the new (for me) Neil Young song I am currently obsessed with..."Yes, only love can break your heart."  Or there is the other, similar song, of my mother and aunt's generation that croons, "Only love can break a heart; only love can mend it again."

Sometimes a person chooses to exit your life.  When that happens you feel like you can't breathe.  I have had a number of people drop out of my life, willingly.  It really hurts.  It hurts in the middle of your chest like your heart wants to punch through your body, from the inside out.  I know that when said exits have occurred I have created a number of assumptions as to "why" said exits have occurred.  The thing is....they are MY stories.  They are complete assumptions and likely very erroneous.  The exits probably had less to do with me than I assumed they did.  But I have let those "stories" and "assumptions" get in the way of many viable relationships...further fueling exits.  It's like a viscous "exit cycle."  It's more like a round-about.  Ugh!

Some exits leave you empty and wondering if you can ever allow another entrance again, for fear of impending exits that might follow.

With each exit I have learned.  With each exit I have grown.  And with each exit time has proven the exit was completely the right move that needed to be made at the time.

Those exits have forced me to think about exits I have made from people's lives.  I certainly am not perfect.  I suppose my point is that when you need to make an exit, make it with as much grace and dignity as can be mustered in what can only be assumed to be a rough situation.  The truth is always the best way to go.  Sure, it will hurt.  But a truthful exit trumps a silent exit every time.


  1. I am very sorry for your loss....

  2. Thank you, Morena! It has been a very bittersweet experience for everyone. We all feel he is so present, yet...we miss him terribly.