The Privilege of Growing Up

This morning my only child left for his last day of middle school. We’re moving out of my childhood home in exactly one week. In the past few days I’ve gathered paperwork from every corner of the earth to probate my stepmother’s will. I've spoken at length with Henrico County court clerks, wrested the IRS website, scheduled a date with a mover, made an appointment at the Dodge dealership, changed my primary care physician at my insurance company, gotten an ankle brace and an anti-inflammatory. I’ve made my dad a fake copy of his own wallet, fielded calls about his recent falls, and consulted with his therapist.

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Valley HaggardComment
Death of the Fantasy

Early this morning my husband thanked me for loving him. I can't even help it, I said and then wondered if that was true. I have loved him in so many different ways over so many different phases, Our marriage turned 18 years old on Sunday. We truly have grown up together. We were babies marrying babies: 25 and 29.

Do you think it will last? my stepmother asked my mother on our wedding day, who rightly said, we'll see.

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SOLD

I’m happy we’re moving because moving will make me a new and improved person. Moving will change everything. I know they say wherever you go, there you are, it's an inside job, you take your problems with you blah blah blah but that is THEM.

* I * will be different.

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Valley HaggardComment
The Long Goodbye

Last weekend we cleaned out the attic, moving as much as we could to a storage unit to live in limbo until we can reclaim it again. Moving is a long goodbye, a gradual uprooting, an endless unsettling. Encounters with all the objects you've ever owned, former selves you’ve packed away. The yearbooks and baby cribs and Grandma’s China. The physical/emotional/spiritual labor of at last leaving behind childhood and starting over again. But there is one thing we didn’t touch. A chest of drawers stuffed with all of the letters I've received in my lifetime tied into bundles with red and black ribbon. Red for the girls and women and black for the boys and men.

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Valley HaggardComment
Waiting

I hate waiting. I want everything to happen RIGHT NOW. “Instant gratification isn’t fast enough,” as Carrie Fisher says in Postcards from the Edge.

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Valley HaggardComment
The Natural Order of Things

Last weekend, on a mandatory vacation, the boy, the dog and I drove three hours deep into Virginia countryside to stay in a teeny tiny condo on Smith Mountain Lake. We saw a great abundance of the three staples of the rural South: churches, cows and graveyards. Every time we saw tombstones we scanned for cows to, as Henry said, “restore the natural order of life.” Our newly for sale house was being shown and our realtor had said in the politest way possible, “get out.” Stan was supposed to come but had to stay behind to tend to the emergency smell emanating from our crawlspace. Bless his heart.

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Valley HaggardComment
Moving Out

I have lived in this house we’re moving out of my entire life. Minus a handful of years when I was 15 and my mother and I moved across the street and then when I left to go to college in New York and travel through Italy and Eastern Europe and worked for short stints in Colorado, Arkansas, and Alaska. And, other than the times when I lived with my dad in the fan or north side or south side or the east end. Other than those times I’ve lived in this house forever.

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Valley HaggardComment
In Praise of Disordered Eating

I saw an actual psychiatrist last week for the first time in over a decade. May two years ago, I showed up in my nurse practitioner’s office unable to stop crying. I believed I could continue to cry forever on my own but I was terrified of becoming a mother who couldn’t get out of bed.

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Big Beautiful Life

Several years ago I stood in my living room and screamed at the top of my lungs: I’M GOING TO HAVE A BIG BEAUTIFUL LIFE WHETHER YOU WANT TO OR NOT. As a co-dependent people pleaser who couldn't be happy if you weren't happy, who made you unhappy if I was unhappy, who didn't really know what happiness was or if I even wanted it at all, this was a real turning point for me.

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Valley HaggardComment
Through the Fire

Wednesday night I went to a Reiki share at my Reiki master’s studio to join five other women in varying degrees of yoga pants, head scarves, and work outfits The act of laying hands on bodies, vulnerable and open and willing to receive was a holy sacrament. When it was my turn on the table I felt as if I’d been scooped into a bowl full of honey. The hands were warm and strong and soft and electric and full of love. I could feel all of my circuits ignite. A handy tool when the whole world is on fire.

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