Dark Matter

a mixture of the unknown and the tangible - by Jennifer Newsom

Officially Withdrawn

Voluntary Witness Protection Program
Voluntary Witness Protection Program

I didn’t mean to become “Officially Withdrawn.” It just happened, through course of introspection, outward discussion, and projection into the life I wanted to be leading but wasn’t. It has been brought to my attention that the last words I wrote to you, dear reader, were ones of a hopeful clinging to dreams, had when 11 years old, of life in New York, making it somewhere. But the reality of those days were in fact hustled, bustled, neglectful of the total picture, and unsustainable. My husband worked too much. I worked not enough on my own creativity (except on the screen, here). I was (am!) a great mother, a fact I am extremely proud to proclaim. But the third member of my family was fracturing, prisms of himself shone through in our son, but his main light was illuminating the wrong path. The wrong people. The wrong fit. So we decided, a bit grudgingly on my part, but necessarily, to leave. To become withdrawn.

After a few weeks on my knees painting cabinets and freshening the appearance of “domestic tranquility,” we listed our apartment. The first open house was packed, other people projecting their memories and hopes for future lives onto our possessions - can we put our bedroom here, should little susie sleep here, will the kitchen be adequate for our needs, how the heck did these people find a 1400sf 3-bedroom 2-bath and why are they leaving it? Who walked these halls, labored with a firstborn child in these rooms, made love in these beds? Ooh, lots of books, art, architecture, and some models strew about too. They look cultured, of a type. Upwardly mobile. Yuppie. Creative. Someone who belonged but now needed to move on for some reason, what?

We were lucky and able to sell our house within a month. From listing to signing a contract, one month. One month and our house was gone. One month and instead of stressing about money, worrying about fragile jobs, worrying about how we were going to continue in this life, our problems were disappeared. Or made to go to ground for a while. The relief we felt upon rushing to the bank to deposit our profits felt like (bitter)sweetness - we were free from a mortgage and also free from our first real HOME.


I know it was the right thing, but I miss Prospect Park and the blissful moments I shared with my son there. It was his beginning and the first time I felt truly proud of something I was shaping. We had a wonderful time, he and I. Trips to the Botanical Garden each Tuesday, Forest School classes in the Neathermead, Saturday trips to Grand Army Plaza and the farmers market. Sundays with lobster rolls from food trucks. The park saxophonist and our friend, Giwe, playing in the arch near the boathouse. Baby swans, signaling Spring. The drummers circle, heat rising, polyrhythms swaying, cacophony of sound so spiritual and free. I love Brooklyn’s mix, our corner of it cradling young boys with curly tops and long limbs drenched with water from a dragon’s lips, Imagination playgrounds abounding within green fringed borders. I knew then how special it was, how fleeting those early days of childhood, and it makes me so so sad that he doesn’t remember it. . .

Fast forward days, weeks, months and the regrets slowly fade. He’s still a New Yorker, a kid whose forts are “coffee shops” and who loves bagels with cream cheese. Brooklynese turns bear into “baer” and park into “pahk.” He’s got a swagger born from nature walks, sure of himself and where he’s going, in his own skin. But what of us?


Peripatetic, exploring, searching. We left as buoys, ranging yet tethered to certain ideas. We decided we needed to change our context, search out other oceans. We went to North Africa for a month, walked Hatshepsut’s steps, sailed the Nile waters, and saw the sun rise in Abu Simbel. Then Spain and back to the continent and Morocco, Las Meninas fading to the High Atlas, reflections of ourselves and our own imaginings coming into view. It was an extraordinary journey that allowed us to return to our own selves. We drew every day and just walked walked walked miles of terrain, footprints tracking our souls.

American city shopping landed us in Minneapolis, MN where I grew up. Nile to Mississippi, in a river-front Victorian with a yard, a dock, a view, and quiet. We call it our “voluntary witness protection program,” a place with no expectation conferred by background, schooling, or position. We took our money and ran, frugally towards riches.

It all sounds a bit narcissistic, and likely is. But this level of introspection and gathering has proven worthwhile. We are so much closer as a family. That has reenforced our certainty that it was right, however wistful, to go. We rediscovered love and being wholehearted in a way that I think we would have had trouble doing with the distractions of New York City beckoning. We launched our own practice in January and are giving our own ideas a real go. Positive responses bolster our confidence and our persistence and our doggedness. We are going to make it, pieces that had been floating like ships, all now aligned on course towards togetherness. Feels good.

Unofficially Emerged.