This year has been a series of small heartaches.
I’m not supposed to say that.
I’m supposed to say that everything is fine.
And it is. Surprisingly, miraculously, it is.
I am, for the most part, treading water quite well, actually.
But in the black-and-white-terror by which we often judge our lives, it has been a spectacularly crummy year. I say that knowing full well that everyone I love has their health and because of that my complaints are just that: complaints, and so not worth much.
But today I will have a second latte before I even leave the apartment.
The weight of some-other-life has been pressing in heavy of late. I feel it most acutely in grocery stores. Standing in aisles, the food poorly organized, the lighting harsh, and the people who work there as unhelpful as unwilling. I feel it standing in the checkout lines. The person behind me always a little too close—their items being scanned before I’ve even signed my copy of the receipt.
And I can’t help but think how those things wouldn’t happen in cities with more space.
Which may or may not be true.
But it’s true of where I grew up.
I feel so very much in-the-middle-of-things. And also nowhere at all. Which is a different sort of middle, and not a very good one.
Except that I’m not in the middle.
I’m on the other side of a long stretch of heartache.
So much, am I on the other side, that I occasionally forget. The body is adaptive in that way—protective. How expertly it smooths the edges of what once felt impossible. But every once and again a residual truth will surface and I’ll realize there’s more to go—small mountains still to move.
And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep. *
Somewhere along the way I stopped believing that good things could happen to me.
Somewhere from within the tangle of that particular devastation I stopped trusting that good things do in fact…occur. To other people, surely. But not to me.
My life would be something else entirely. Something less. And I would weather it.
It’s so ridiculous. I get that. Just saying it out loud, it’s so ridiculous. But it’s also true. And true in a way that frightens me because it’s somehow more true than other truths, and how can there be shades to truth?
And what I’m realizing is that I’ve been toting around this particular truth for far too long, totally unaware.
Meaning, I’ve let it be true. When really it’s not. And that’s on me.
Maybe it’s the last threshold. The last little bit to cross.
But when you’re nineteen years old and shit hits the fan in that way that alters your life in that unalterable way and it takes you six years just to get out of bed without considerable effort, perception and hopes and what you want for your life shifts.
And you settle.
And you accept that less for so long that it becomes a new baseline.
Until you call bullshit. And start wanting—start expecting more.
Because just to give voice to that scary truth is to dismantle it. To somehow make it less true.
Less true than other truths.
And less important and more part of the past--and the mountains get smaller and the miles less dense.
And the getting out of bed, that much easier.
Treading water starts to feel more like swimming.
Forward to that next shore.
Something about water metaphors, they really get me.
*Robert Frost. Obviously. (Obviously not being the name of the poem. And now is the moment I encourage you to go revisit his really good words.)