I wish I could tell you any story except the one about my crippling sadness. the story of a summer spent uselessly trying to rehabilitate a car I never should have bought, that never should have been sold; of endlessly waiting for the bus; of sitting inside looking outside and feeling restless and trapped and frightened of all the time passing with no purpose. of earning more money on paper but being poorer than I have been in some years, despite having spent almost nothing on myself in months, save for groceries. about breaking off my relationship not once but twice, after both of us were too sad to make it stick the first time: a rift that seems to grow more painful rather than less, with each day unraveling the tie that binds us just a little more and a little more. I can't help but watch my alternate life go by, the one in which I managed to leave here last winter for bluer skies; the one in which I wake up next to my boyfriend in the house we talked of buying in the deep south. in that life, I would have fewer belongings, but also fewer fears that I may never pull my head above water, may never stay in love, may never move on to the step with children and dogs and a porch of my own.
or maybe in that alternate life I am in a far away state surrounded by people who don't want me to have birth control and I've gained a lot of weight from eating too much barbecue. who can say.
there's no other story except the one where I am so low that I struggle even to recognize the smallest of victories (the work successes, the 235 straight days of running, the rekindled friendship, the still being alive). at one point my car didn't run and my debit card number had been stolen so I was without transportation and without money: a momentary taste of what life is like in a completely different social class. I leave the headlights on one day and kill the battery. I go out with friends and it is so good to see them, but they are both pregnant and I feel as though I might as well be visiting from mars. at the company picnic I'm one of a tiny minority of people without a spouse, without toddlers.
I get catcalled on my runs and without hesitation I give those men the finger, angry at being an object, angry at being less-than, angry that we live in a time when this bullshit is all still here and we are still fighting to be seen as legitimate despite having vaginas. angry that after 235 days I'm still not running much at all, because I'm constantly battling one pain or another, pre-injuries that move from muscle to muscle without mercy. the alternative -- not running -- is not thinkable. some days the streak feels as much like a real, tangible friend as my real, tangible friends. one of the few constant, dependable things in my life.
I am lonely, and afraid of dying, afraid that every day I have to keep struggling to carry this monster in my muddled brain is another day of my life I didn't really get to live. it occurs to me to get a therapist but I don't know where the money would come from. I know by now that this is not how most people feel every day, but the knowledge doesn't throw me a ladder with which to climb out.
I'd like to tell you a story about a summer spent driving around oregon, camping on the weekends, or hiking, or swimming in a river. or even just of eating ice cream in cute shorts with a girlfriend, riding my bike, running long trails. I'd like to say I was tan and sometimes sandy and sometimes dirty, that I'd seen the asphalt of so many roads, that I was that good, satisfied kind of tired and ready for soup and rain. that I figured out a way to make this sweetest of romances work. maybe next year.