We all end up alone.

Abandonment. Textbook abandonment. Whatever that means. For any child isn’t it sourced ultimately at the disappearance of a critical figure. A parent, a sibling, a close childhood friend. People leave. Accepting that is part of your life forever.  Or should I say making peace with it, or maybe never making peace with it and wrestling it forever in some type of Promethean torment. Consciously. Unconsciously.

Maybe I did carry it around. Maybe I still carry it around. I will admit that a cornerstone of my last relationship was built on a feeling a safety I don’t remember having previously. I spent over 9 years feeling like I had one less worry. That I wasn’t going to have to concern myself with being alone. I had a family that I made, even if it was just the two of us. I had a teammate, a partner. Someone to help tread this weird path we’re all on. Help me along. Take care of me if it all fell apart. Love me even if my body or mind failed and make sure that I wasn’t left discarded at the side of the road. He said forever. He meant it. I meant it when I said it. Then forever changed.

That’s the thing. I still want those impossible promises to be made. Knowing they can and likely will end up being broken. Maybe that’s what marriage is for non-religious people. The subscription to the belief that you are trying to make the same kind of iron-clad promise, that’s your intent. We all want forever but I don’t think any of us knows what that means, we see the end but we don’t see the journey. Here’s the point A, the goal is the point B, seems obvious right. But what about that fact that the path we’re talking about is this undefinable road. The not knowing is what you’re trying to use that promise as a shield against, to plow forward, to keep going, to free yourself from one of the litany of worries we all hang on to.

No one wants to do this alone. Not the exhilarating bits or the dull ones or the simple agony of being alive. It’s intended to be shared. But gods how we fuck that up.

The only peace I am ever going to make is accepting that the only constant in the entire world is knowing things will always change. We’ve been defiantly shouting it at each other since the 8th grade. NOTHING IS FOREVER EXCEPT CHANGE (ACCEPT THE CHANGE). If it was a thing when we were younger we’d all have shitty tattoos that said it. We tossed it at each other like we had an inkling of what it meant. Fuck we were idiots. Beautiful, optimistic, children. Thinking we’d sort it out, we’d find some impenetrable shield in each other, in our relationships to navigate it together and ride these changes like some epic tidal wave. But you can bet that we assumed we’d be on top. In charge. Adapting and doing it with grace and success.

It’s all an illusion. There is no grace anywhere to be found sometimes. And the success, the bitter reality of redefining that is understanding that success means getting your ass kicked again and again. Your heart broken. Your sense of stability obliterated. And standing up and moving forward because you are too stubborn to give up.

Kittens clinging to cliffs on shitty motivational posters.

Hang in there.

Sometimes that’s all that I feel like I’m doing.

Guess What? It’s the Same.

All of that shit you’re waiting on. Dreaming about. Stressing over.  That list of obstacles or goals or specific life events you feel like if you could JUST get those done, you’d feel differently. Paying off your car, moving, getting through some specific project at work. Or maybe it’s the larger and more far reaching stuff. Divorce. Student loans.

You envision these milestones a bit like carrying around a stack of concrete blocks on your back. Only the truth is, even once you free yourself from those specific things you’re focused on, you will simply trade one block for another.

Life, if you chose to focus on it that way, is mostly the same. Atleast in the ways you’d imagine. The predictable routine of your ability to adapt to experiences, or changes, good or bad.

I sold my house. I got divorced. I moved. I paid off all of my debt (save for my car). My credit score is 825. I am Jack’s sense of pained irony.

And don’t get me wrong. It felt good to do all of those things. Necessary. Elemental even. To strip out the clutter in my life by moving, ending a relationship emotionally, legally and changing everything. To move towards something and feel like in the restructuring I was learning about what the things I’d already experienced meant.

Knowing that I can save money for the things I want. That I enjoy a level of freedom and flexibility that has in some capacity eluded me for the duration of my adult life in 40 years. It’s grand.  But it’s not such a sweeping mind-bending change that I don’t still wake up and throughout the course of a day, become preoccupied with the same petty trivialities that bothered me before.  Those larger successes that I waited so long for… they’re not a magical inoculation against manufactured anxieties. I still worry about dumb shit.  Different dumb shit, but by and large. I am not so dramatically changed that I have unshackled myself from the pitfalls of what it means to be a person. Forever struggling against your own patterns, habits, tendencies. Making hard won progress.  But only through dogged persistence, luck, and will.  None of those requirements change.

So now what’s the moral of this ramble. Hey look at that, I think it’s the same as the last post I wrote. Don’t do it. Don’t dig yourself into the promise of someday as a solution to your state of mind. Because all that matters is right now. You will arrive, perhaps – I won’t even add “if you’re lucky” because luck is irrelevant and it may not be lucky anyway – at your desired destination.  You will pay off that car. You will get rid of that student loan. You will move to that new city. And you will still be you. In a different place. And you will have done all that waiting. That anticipatory promise of changes, solutions, a blank(er) slate and you will still find yourself wanting. It’s a giant waste. A pile of misdirected energies. Speculating on how different you will feel with certain obstacles out of your way. The only actual obstacle is the barrier you created in your own head. Crush that shit and move on. You, are really the only thing in your own way.

Escape from Suburbia

Maybe it’s because I spent over two hours in the car (a car I just bought less than two weeks ago) trying to get from the city into Arlington out to the suburbs. I’m moved yesterday. Like a privileged adult I paid two guys to move all of my shit into a truck for me. I feel almost embarrassed to be this exhausted because I didn’t actually do anything, I mean I did, but comparatively speaking.

My move has been this prolonged, looming, never-ending saga. Endless packing. Multiple hit or miss apartments before we finally landed one. The stress of selling my first house, negotiating the money situation with my ex, handling all of the logistics of staging, selling, putting things into storage, pulling things out of storage, scheduling, arranging, cleaning. Just the mental energy to deal with all of the logistics, none of it even touches on the emotions. I’m back to renting. Into the land of beige and cohabitation with a non-romantic partner (a really close friend but still… it’s not the same), there is some whiff of failure around it, temporary or not.

So I’m thinking of this as an adventure. Temporary in nature. So the washing machines are upstairs and require an ongoing commitment to a bucket of change – at least they’re big and I can get a bunch of shit done all at once. Besides I work from home and that’s easy to knock out during the day. There’s the rooftop pool – what a kick ass way to spend a lunch break – again with the working from home bit. And I’ll get to actually save some $ and go back to cooking for myself and I’m living with someone that actually eats well. I’ll have an actual walk in closet. I can cover the ugly ass beige with area rugs. I will live in a neighborhood that I can actually WALK to things. to get my nails done. To the fucking pub. There’s a bus that rolls right into the city and puts me a 15 minute walk from the office. Did I mention that my boyfriend will be right across the street?

It’s all good, when I orient myself correctly. And then in a year… on to the next adventure. Not into the suburbs.

Arlington is farther away that I thought I’d ever want to be. Moving into the city 4 years ago, even if it was the same city my entire life has been situated around since junior high, still felt like escape, or elevation of a sort. In some ways I feel like I failed by never moving away. Never lived in another city, or another country. Getting to DC at least it was different. Less than an hour but still enveloped by an entire lifestyle that seemed more _real_.

I expect to spend a lot of time weighing how I feel about this to evaluate that next step… wherever it goes.

So You’re Getting a Divorce?

The heart wants what it wants. Ha. I googled it – Emily Dickinson. That’s something that no one tells you. That it can happen. That you can be perfectly content or distractedly content, or in some sinister state of utter denial –  too busy, or dishonest or scared to stop and clean off the lens so you have an accurate picture of where you are. And then something will happen.

You will be standing in the shower and realize that you’re about to initiate a conversation that you’ve had before but it feels different, truer somehow. You’ll send another email, you’ll both agree that while you’re happy that things are not perfect, and actually they’re far from ideal. And you’ll agree that you both want things to change and that the impasse is because you’re both stumped about what to do, which feels true when you say it, but another part of you that is sort of slowly waking up … is calling bullshit on that. That’s only part of the truth. The other part of the truth is that there is a solution but it’s utter destruction. A truth that’s existed far longer than it’s been acknowledged as viable. Ofcourse that’s always an option. Start over. But you can maintain what you have, and part of you really wants to sustain that, solve it, refine it and continue to believe that it’s something that can survive. You built your life entirely around one other person. They’re your family and interwoven through every element of your life. Why would you change that? Deliberately inflict so much pain, invite chaos, alienate yourself, leave yourself without the family you chose, quite possibly end up alone. Who does that?

You do. That’s you. You took the lid off this Pandora’s box and it was this uncontrollable unraveling. Could not un-do it. You wanted to lie. To yourself, to him, to everyone. Because it would have protected you and meant you weren’t walking away from the life you’d built to completely start over.  You knew you would do it. You just had to slowly turn around and face it.

It’s been like tearing apart the worst onion. Ripping off layers. Yes, your marriage is over. And when you’ve been with someone for nine years you’re breaking up with everything. Your spouse, your life, your routines and comforts. Ripping off an endless series of bandaids. Tell your family, tell your friends, wait to be judged, hated, pitied. Relieved because work is new enough that you can hide there, smile, try to just enjoy being in a good spot with smart and interesting people. The previously perceived source of stress (new title, new responsibilities, surrounded by brilliance and intensity, trying not to fail) is usurped by the utter insanity of the complete unfamiliarity of the rest of your life. There is nothing to prepare you for waking up every day and feeling this crushing sadness, panic, resignation.

You go home and realize that no one is coming back. You don’t own a hair dryer any more. You gave up your car. You really need to remember not to take the trash into the alleyway at 11 p.m. because there’s no one there to look for you if you get jumped and you’ve been gone for 30 minutes. You stop wearing your wedding rings. You realize you have a fridge full of groceries for two people and a life that no longer exists. For awhile every day you have these moments of abject terror. It’s been weeks since you’ve been able to eat normally, waiting until you’re starving to even try because you’re not sure you can choke anything down. You’re already full… of this pulsing sense of anxiety. What the fuck are you doing and each day that passes you realize that it’s harder and harder to go back, to undo the path you’ve put yourself on. Until you realize that your worst fears, that you got it wrong, that any smug sense of success you felt about how you’d “won” your life was delusional. That the thing you thought was the worst possible thing, your permanent partnership ending, was already happening, and you weren’t so broken that you couldn’t continue. You realize that you knew that there was no permanence to anything, that you, like everyone else were measuring something with a set of rules that made no sense at all. Success was not, IS NOT, finding a single person and making it work forever. The cultural and social forces that sold the entire western world on that notion are assholes.You feel vaguely foolish for ever thinking you got anything right.

But you feel guilt for feeling brave. It’s not really confidence if you truly feel that you have no option save for starting over. That’s where the reality lives. You can want, to want something, but there is no bridging the gap to make that true if your heart has already decided it’s not about the work. It’s not that you wouldn’t work, if there was something to work for but it’s like a fire that’s already gone out, you can’t bury it in more fuel if there’s nothing left that will ignite. You have the memory of the warmth and the feelings of all of the experience that existed before it went out, you remember that it had kept you warm but not anymore. Not because someone stamped it out, or dumped water on it.  It burned up what was there and turned it to ash and before you knew it that blaze you already carried around was chewing through fuel you didn’t realize you were feeding it but it was a completely different fire.

Oh hey.

I realize running in the middle of the brutal heat of the day is not the BEST idea but really it’s not the worst either.  I need to exercise. Yes I miss the gym, yes I miss the sportsing but that’s neither here nor there.

Your heart is a muscle, if you allow it to sit unused and atrophy you can expect to live less or not as well or hey maybe you will have a myocardial infarction (that phrase makes me laugh, it sounds like a joke a kid might make. infarction) and die anyway, but at least you were doing something about it.

I read something, somewhere… Buzzfeed, twitter, a generic inspirational article generator that you need to view certain things (dishes, exercise, your damn laundry) as one of those things you just _do_. You don’t have to love it. Brushing your teeth, drinking water, getting enough sleep that you don’t feel weepy or homicidal. Exercise is one of those. It’s a thing to complete as a human being who is making an effort to live a decent life.

I made myself a Google checklist that is going to pop up every day. It reads like a weird haiku or the worst and least explanatory list ever made.

Stretch
Write
Exercise
Declutter
Art
Snuggle
Hydrate
Read

And I feel like any day I can do ALL of those things, is a good day. So today when I had time because I am lucky enough to work from home I turned my bad mood into a really good day by getting the fuck over myself, ignoring my hunger and going outside to run at 12:30 and I’m halfway through that list for today and it’s already better.

Just Another Day

I squeezed the tip of my left thumb mercilessly before I remembered that I had spent the previous day elbow deep in Old Bay coated crustaceans. It was not a splinter, it was a small crab-inflicted puncture. Oops. My hands take a lot of abuse. Relentless washing to fend off large-scale office cooties. Hours coated in clay. Dishes. Keyboards. Scrolling. Flipping pages.

Friday Happy Hour, dinner on the town, home in a stranger’s car for an early night. Two glasses of wine flattened me. Why do people drink? It’s fun for an hour and then I just want it to go away. Up early, breakfast, hours of pottery. Someone delivers decent tacos to my house now. It was hard to leave. Took a nap, played video games, watched a movie. Lazy days at home with the Mr. are some of my favorites.

Sunday we slept in, made breakfast, went for a short hike in the nearby park we’ve never managed to visit in nearly 3 years since moving into our place. We grabbed salads, showers, I chopped fruit, sat outside in the woods with friends and future friends to eat crabs and drink beer and hang out. Happy summer. Man, I wish I had a yard. Spent a good 30 minutes looking up into the trees at a bard owl. So cool. Got to pet lots of dogs, talk to  people, eat more food than is reasonable. Bailed on the second party, too tired. Again with the drinking, I really don’t like it. Trying not to fall asleep at 9 p.m. is a real thing.

Monday! A bonus day. To clean and relax and wonder if I can fit an entire apartment of stuff into our bedroom for a new floor. Popcorn for late lunch was totally unintentional, trip to the grocery store, sorting through books, killing monsters on the xbox. I could relive this day several times. It means a lot of time in my pajamas with my forehead pressed against his making stupid jokes and hanging out. I already know I will miss things like this at some point. My personal anxiety is trying not to preemptively miss them.  Sad for things that will be gone that have yet to occur.

It’s been two months since our bedroom water explosion. Sorting through stuff feels not unlike moving, but we’re not going anywhere. I hammered people with email this morning. Waiting. Waiting on the insurance company, waiting on the condo association, waiting on the flooring guy(s). It’s going to cost more than the insurance company will give us for what we want. How much more? At this point the pain is less about the money than it is about the status of purgatory. Stuck. It’s exasperating to send email after email and hear, I’m sorry I’m so busy, etc… these are all people who are paid, people I pay, condo dues or insurance I’ve invested money for a service that right now, is fucking useless to me. I don’t even necessarily expect to hear good news, I just need information. It’s been two fucking months. I can’t put anything away. My bedroom smells like mildew. I have a bunch of crap that I need to rent a truck to haul off to a dumpster. Speaking of which, if my insurance company didn’t suck they should probably be paying for that shit.

My stomach is pissed, fucking alcohol and fucking wheat. Why did I eat that shit. My knees hurt. Garbage complaints. Remember. No one is sick, or dying. Enjoy that nice car and the hipster office and your husband. Go home, do some yoga and make some dinner with your overpriced groceries. Try not to let this petty shit eat at you. You have no real problems. You had free lunch today courtesy of work. Crank some Slayer in those earbuds on the bus and keep moving. Write your stupid blog post on your laptop. Consume. Obey!

Meat suit.

I sat on the floor last night and my knee ached. I can’t sit cross-legged with both legs equidistant from the floor, it’s like a wire pulled taught. It’s not always the case but I think the 7 miles of hiking the previous day may have had something to do with it, or the cheeseburger. Wheat and I don’t always get along. Joint inflammation, bullshit.

When I was 19 I drove around in my first car, empty Mountain Dew cans rolling around in the back seat, smoking menthol cigarettes, sleeping 6 hours running on stimulants at 120 lbs of furious energy. I was tiny and intense. Like a thin wire vibrating with current.

Before I get in bed I try to remember to smear a thin layer of vaseline over my eyes so this tiny spot of rogue eyelid eczema doesn’t reappear. It’s not on both eyes but why tempt fate. The non-steroid medication I have from the dermatologist makes my skin burn like it’s on fire from the inside. It’s a great sensation so close to your eyes. Eyes that randomly water, so once every few weeks I’m holding a steaming hot washcloth to my eyeball to make sure my tear ducts do what they’re supposed to. Maybe it’s the lasik? Or hey, apparently the warm memory I have of my grandfather always carrying around a handkerchief was not because it was a classic gentleman thing to keep in your pocket but was, in part, because he had perpetually watering eyes. I wonder if no one told him about the washcloth trick. I remember he and my Grandma used to sit on the floor with us, I’ve seen it in old family VHS tapes. I wonder if he ever got old enough for that to be too hard. He died right after his 65th birthday so I hope not.

Suddenly 65 seems so young I want to grasp my entire life with both hands and never let go.

Waking up every day knowing that some part of this body will ail me, a twinge in my neck, a slightly upset stomach, an aching knee. Never anything intolerable but like a quiet pulse of mortality. My body is wearing, irreversibly. Another day older and closer to death. Is it fucking scary to read that? Sure it is. But only because it’s like a bucket of ugly truth water in your face. We are dying. By tiny degrees. Slower, less efficient. The peak of your physicality behind you, it’s where that lovely sardonic expression “youth is wasted on the young” comes from. That learned knowledge of just how fleeting and ephemeral everything about being human is. You change the oil and maintain the tire pressure and wax the whole thing but it’s still going to fall apart, require tune ups, eventually be a still hulking rusted shell. Parked.

I try to get 8 hours of sleep, if I don’t for more than a few days I start to feel broken. Emotional, unable to handle the more complex mental tasks that involve working, living, acting like a sane functional human being. I gave up sugar in my coffee with the occasional deviation. With my weight the highest it’s ever been pushing me from medium to large in clothes in a sick combination of vanity sizing and actual sizing reality, I try to be selective about where I throw sugar into my face. If I got to choose where that extra padding went perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. If I eat poorly for an entire day my lower abdomen inflates like a balloon and my digestive system typically stages a riotous protest for 12 to 24 hours. It makes me tired and hungry and annoyed. Vegetables, they’re friends.

I try to drink 2 liters of water every day. Sometimes that water comes from coffee, or kombucha or flavored mineral water. If I’m being evil it’s ginger ale or strong sugary tea but that’s rare. Alcohol in anything more than tame dinner party quantities has the potential to eat into both the quality or mere existence of the next day. An actual hangover is a punishing and frustrating affair that feels like throwing my precious and most valuable commodity into the toilet, my free time. The relief only truly arriving after 24 hours of “system” processing and another round of blissful sleep.

Sometimes I have issues with sciatica, usually if I’ve forgone exercise for too long. I’ve had the same knee surgically repaired twice, by and large it feels good. Sometimes I really miss soccer but the prospect of yet another surgery and the trauma of 6 months of rehab is just too significant of a hurdle, it’s humbling to realize that something you once enjoyed is beyond your reach. I guess age does equal wisdom in this instance, thinking about a third major ligament injury feels like inviting long term disaster. I like hiking and walking and running and generally being able to use my legs. I take the stairs whenever I can, two stints of crutches really drive home an appreciation for mobility that I try to be mindful of.

Mercifully I still sleep well and without difficulty. Camping in insane weather with my beloved but loud-snoring spouse notwithstanding I can sleep when I want to and insomnia is a demon that has never visited it’s suffering upon me.

When I’m outside exposed I coat my entire body in sunscreen, repeatedly. Skin cancer is not an obscure punchline anymore. I’m glad my forays into the land of the tanning bed were short lived, now my idea of color is just more tattoos. As my skin texture changes the incentive to decorate grows, it’s my party and I’ll color it if I want to.

Before I go to bed every night I eat two biotin gummies, who knows if it’s working but they’re like candy and I like having thicker hair, my nails are an afterthought because I’m always hacking them off to keep them out of my way on the pottery wheel. I dissolve a sublingual b-12 under my tongue and swallow: a capsule of turmeric, probiotic, vitamin d, fish oil and just introduced magnesium into the mix. If I add anything else I don’t think I’ll be able to get the whole lot down in a single mouthful.

Last month I finally had a troublesome tooth dealt with: root canal, temporary crown, permanent crown. It was creepy to feel that tooth ground down to a little nub and the permanent crown is this smooth alien object in my mouth, like a polished stone that I can tell is foreign when I run my tongue over it. My original equipment has started with small failings. It made me uneasy when I thought too hard about it … but like most changes it’s already faded to a footnote in the larger narrative of living.

When I wake up the idea of leaving the house without concealer is no longer an option. Being told you look tired gets really old after the 4th or 5th polite inference. I get it. Thanks. So I shower and shave and pluck and moisturize and perfume. Generally unless it’s freezing or special I don’t bother to blowdry. Special leave in conditioner for my hair so it’s not a scratchy pile of hay and now I’m up to three products to fill in my thinning eyebrows so I don’t look like a sleepy mole-faced ghost.

Beauty is fleeting and time consuming. And less and less meaningful. The chase is on. Hopefully with age the appetite for vanity wanes and my gaze shifts farther outwards and inwards. To what’s inside and to everyone else. House of cards, castle on sand, etc… No sense is driving yourself into frustration for a thing that will be increasingly elusive. Appearance pales in favor of function.

I just want to FEEL well and BE HERE and holy hell FUCK ALL THE REST. I know so many beautiful unhappy people.  I just want to be engrossed and enlightened and engaged. How I look doing that is a currency I don’t want to spend too much time managing.

I refuse.