Books · Conversations with Kids · Family life · True North

Our Power to Attach and Release

My dad’s ’69 Chevy coming out of storage this spring

The above car is my dad’s, and he’s having a hard time letting go of her, despite not really driving this former beauty since I was a teenager.  Now this rusty impersonator of a bygone era goes into storage at Arnold’s Antiques and Collectibles around November and comes out again in April.   Coincidentally this spring, I was coming home from a walk when I heard the loud rumble of the engine roar to life, sputter, choke, roar again, and then I saw the giant plumes of smoke fill the parking lot.  I will never forget taking this photo along with a video and my dad yelling, “Unbelievable” as if we were landing on the moon.  He waved as he passed me although the smoke was so thick, seeing his smile was tough.   He still very much loves her, remembering her best days and “putting her out to pasture” is a slow process indeed.

I certainly develop attachment for people and places but not so much for things.  People are shocked to hear how homesick I was when I landed at Connecticut College.  But any of my freshmen year dorm mates will attest to probably a month long depression for my hometown and the people who lived there.  However, I considered myself rather a minimalist in terms of stuff.  For the longest time, I could fit everything I owned in the back of my pick up truck.  Then I met Geoff.  Today he came home from a fishing trip with our son, but they just had to swing in the same antique shop where my dad stores his car in the winter.  There, they picked up another victrola.  We now have four.  That’s right.  We have four wind up antique record players in our bedroom.   I’m like my mom–we would rather make friends and laughter and experiences in cool places than collect items I have to be responsible for dusting and NOT losing because I’ve stuck it “someplace safe.”

My principal wrapped up a 44 year career this week.  Cleaning out his office was really hard for him, maybe only even harder on his wife.  I can’t even imagine cleaning out my classroom after 20 years just considering my book collection alone, but books belong in classrooms so I would be okay with just leaving them there.  In planning for a workshop I’m facilitating along with my Girls of Summer at Plymouth State University (NH Writing Project),  I’ve been thinking a lot about attachment and the power of release.  What are the “things” we can’t imagine living without?  What are our needs vs. our wants?  When life sends us a tornado or powerful rain storm and flood warnings, what or who are the branches we hold on to so we aren’t swept away when the river rolls through?

Four years ago, Geoff and I signed over our remaining ten embryos to the fertility clinic at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.   We first met with a psychologist who asked us to rate our “attachment” to the embryos on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the strongest.  We both rated our level of attachment as a 2; we were not possibly attached.  So the story goes, instead of wondering about whether another family selected our embryos to transfer in the hopes of developing into an actual baby, I wrote a book about an embryo transfer: the power to attach and release.  And honestly, in the last four years, the only time I really think about where those embryos are, or if they were born into children, is when I speak with groups of students about True North.   But in the last couple of months, we learned this fertility clinic would no longer be providing services like in vitro fertilization.  Since hearing this news, I can’t stop thinking we should call and find out.  But would knowing change anything?

Recently, at a talk in Lisbon, NH, a set of triplet seniors shared they had been born via IVF, and their parents also put their remaining embryos up for adoption.  Reading True North made them realize the potential for other siblings out there in the world and what that might mean for them one day.  I wonder if those embryos had the opportunity to be chosen and develop into babies.  I wonder what happened to ours?

For those embryos, my level of attachment holds steady at a 2, but my level of curiosity regarding their status is a straight up 9.  Whether answers come to me or not, I do have four record players I can listen to in the meanwhile.

NOTE: I’ll be at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH on Thursday, July 13 at 530 PM.  Please stop by to say hello.  Check out my author FB page Heather Krill or follow me on Twitter @heatherkrill1.

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