“I feel like such an adult fuck up sometimes.” I say this as we leave a mutual friend’s beautiful, neat-as-a-pin garden. It is dusk. My own yard, just blocks away, is an impending jungle. Every summer I hope to be diligent; every summer, the garden wins.

“Everyone feels like an adult fuck up,” my friend assures me.

“Accept, accept, accept…” I say, but I trail off. And then I say what I’m really thinking. “I’m just sad lately. I don’t know what it is.” I can tell I’m going to cry. “I worry that I’m not really a writer. I have nothing to say. And if I’m not that, then what am I? I have this job, and I’m so grateful for it; but that’s not what I am.  … What am I?”

We walk on through the neighborhood, the peonies in their final hours, the night coming on – just a few lightening bugs on this May night. Just an hour earlier, I left my daughter on the evening of her eleventh birthday with her dad and his family. They are happy and I am happy she is in a good place. I also feel alone. Leaving your kids after a divorce does get easier, but it’s never easy.

Everything feels like walking through sludge lately. There are no breaks. There are days when a few paragraphs from a book leave me in tears. There are nights when I lay awake with a raw ache for things not yet lost. A few good days go by, and then I’m back in this space.

I tell my friend about my front stairs that need to be replaced and the house insurance catastrophe. “I never have quite enough,” I say of my bank account and of the house, which seems to be always on the brink of some minor collapse – the crumbling stairs, the collapsing retaining wall, the windows that won’t stay up. “It’s always like that – for everyone,” she says, “even if they’re rich.”

We keep going and she tells me about an art piece she may sell. She tells me that her daughters are doing well. She beams when she gets a text from her sweetheart. She smiles and I remember how many of her tears I was witness to not so long ago.

“You’re a writer no matter what. It’s clear,” she says, her arm around me. “Just like I’m an artist.” She’s also a fellow traveler. And for that I am so grateful. Beyond words.