mike came and went. we ate tacos and watched battlestar galactica and drank beers and walked up and down the coast and watched people fly kites and went letterboxing and hiked and had a picnic. we hung out downtown. we played pinball. we went to a concert. now he is gone, and there is no clear path forward. there is no certainty that he will ever be back. he lives in alabama, I live in portland. it has always been this way -- but for awhile I was going to live in alabama, too. now all bets are off. he's asked if he can be called my 'boyfriend emeritus,' because neither of us can say 'ex.'
I have done a lot of walking back and forth through my apartment in the last two days, picking things up and putting them down again, or wiping a counter, or sitting down to do something and then forgetting what the something is. we are still in love. we have made this choice together. we still say good morning and goodnight. alabama/oregon. financial security/love. known/unknown. I do not know which way is up.
sometimes I look around at people at the lake with their kids, or drinking beers out on a patio, or doing work, and I really wonder if everyone else is having a hard time, too, or if there's something particular to my wiring. because I can look outside and see that the sky is beautiful, but I still feel lost.
I have a mental list of things that seem like they would make me much happier, even when I know that "if only I had X, I'd be happy" is a sure path to disappointment. the list:
• a backyard
• ...with a hammock, or at least lawn furniture
• a reliable car (my new one isn't quite there yet)
• a porch
• a family, or at least the trajectory towards one
• an occasional camping trip
• maybe a dog
• about half the debt I have
I live in fear that life is passing me by, but still get stuck, as I did today, by some unseen and unknowable force. indecision, or laziness, or inertia, or fear, or something else entirely. instead of leaving the house, I stand at the bathroom mirror and pluck the gray out of my hair.
I get up and pack my lunch and go to work and appear competent and crack jokes with coworkers and go for runs and drink with friends and lie in bed watching cartoons and through it all I still live in holy terror that I am missing something. fear of missing out.
at work I go to lunch with some colleagues and they all sit around talking about their kids, and I feel like I've been accidentally invited to a meeting for which I do not have the skill set.
I don't have the answers to anything. does anyone? that is a real question.
a curious thing about me: sitting heavy in my sadness, I tried to think up things I could do now that I'm single. I couldn't come up with much; mike is sweet and supportive and fun. but what I did think was, 'well, I guess now I can go back to turning myself into a ninja.' which is to say, now I can become a different thing: learn spanish or rock climbing or poker. I looked straight at that and thought, well, there's your problem. because the only thing stopping me from doing those things as a girlfriend is some strange wall in my own mind. what is that wall? why do I do that? if you know something and I want to learn it, I'd still rather teach myself in secret and at great expense than ask you to teach me. because then I wouldn't be an impenetrable force.
mike and I went rock climbing when I was last in birmingham. he frequents the climbing gym but I had never been before. I was absolutely closed to the idea of having anyone see me fall off the wall. far better climbers than me -- that is to say, climbers, in any capacity -- were falling off the wall at regular intervals. it is how you learn. I know this in my thought brain. but my other dumb brain was like, 'nope.' I had told mike going in that being seen while not knowing something is one of my biggest irrational fears. he couldn't have been more patient with me. I did climb the wall a few times. I never would have gone alone.
I don't know anything about anything.
lately I often find myself reading something and thinking, "I write better than this," which is a thing you are not allowed to say if you don't really do much writing anymore.