When The Worst Is The Best

My mother casually slings her arm over my shoulder, takes a sigh, and recites the classic literary quote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  She says this with twinges of both bemusement and nostalgia as we both stare back at the charming brownstone apartment I have lived in for the past three years.  All of the years, in fact, since my separation and subsequent divorce .

Having just finished the arduous task of scrupulously cleaning out this old apartment, the only thing I can think about are the keys-my keys- lying there, abandoned and alone, on the naked kitchen counter in that semi-loved and semi-loathsome home that was my proverbial divorce pad.  For a brief moment,  I feel a bit of panic rising in my chest as the finality of it all sets in.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I am not sure she could have summed up my years of residency in this building any better.  It was several, prolifically prolonged,  years where I reached my lowest depths of despair while simultaneously cultivating a deeper sense of self and learned about truest of true love, which is to say I learned self love.  It was a place to find myself and to find happiness among darkness.  It was a place where I spent many nights crying alone and many other nights laughing myself to tears while sharing beers and movies with my upstairs-neighbor-turned-best-friend.  It was a place that was certainly not my carefully decorated, and very loved, three bedroom/three bath colonial house, but it was a place that was decidedly mine and no one else’s.

I close my eyes and for a moment can almost relive the nights spent scrawling in my journal and binge watching Felicity, reflecting on my own, albeit delayed, coming of age. I think of the men I have disrobed, disappointed and disposed of in that apartment.  I recall the nights stumbling home from the bars downtown, arm and arm with my girlfriends.  I can almost feel the grass beneath me from the days when I would lay in the adjacent park, doing nothing but staring at the sky, feeling utterly alone; wondering if I would always feel so abandoned and discarded while the world busily moved on around me.  I remember the cozy snow days spent with neighbors in PJ’s, cuddled under a nest of blankets, movie nights filled with wine and take out, and sweet summer nights playing cards on our tiny balconies.

And I remember that for all I have been through, this is only the beginning.  The seemingly endless nights of despair have ended, brandishing something shiner and newer than I ever thought possible.  I am not that same girl anymore- the lost, lonely, bitter, depressed, over-drinking divorcee; the perpetually single tag along friend rattling off tales of her latest dating disasters.  Now, I’m just Me; a Me I could not have imagined way back then.  But a little part of me will miss that apartment, and the old Me that went with it, for as many times as there were bad, there were just as many good.  It feels like letting go of an old friend, as I  get into my car, leaving the keys, and a little bittersweet piece of my past behind.

Moving on is always tough; an exhausting task to say the least.  But as I round the first corner on my drive home, it occurs to me that I am excited to see what other Me’s lie in the future .  But for now, I think I’ll hang on to this one for a little while.

 

 

Welcome Home

Again, I find myself waiting.  Waiting to start the newest chapter in my life as I move into a new house- a place I truly hope might feel like the home I have been so in need of for nearly three and a half years now.  A place where I can feel set up, established, and grounded; at peace in the small niceties that I can arrange for myself.  A spare room with a treadmill and yoga mat so I can work out without weather, time or dog constrictions.  A new desk in a, cozy, corner landing overlooking the front yard, where I can spread out and write as I please.  A yard for my dogs to run around freely while I put my feet up on the patio table and leaf through a book, cup of coffee in hand.  A record player, next to a roaring fireplace, ready to be played at a moment’s notice, with my favorite Ella Fitzgerald album already on deck.  A TV in my kitchen so I can listen to the news as I do the dishes or fix my lunches for the week.

All of this seems so simple, maybe even material.  Many would ask why I can’t do these things in my current living space. And while physical space certainly lends its limitations here, I will be the first to admit, that’s not really the issue.  Something about my current place has always felt stale and uneasy.  Perhaps it is the hauntings of my divorce. Perhaps it is the hauntings of another kind.  Or perhaps more likely, it has been my own mental limitations- my own imaginations and feelings that I cannot spread out and feel settled here.  Why?  I’m not sure.  But I have always felt tense and restless here in a way that I cannot logically describe.

What I can describe is the feeling that for the last three years (possibly more) my heart and soul have felt detached from me.  They had run off and I have been searching high and low to hunt them down; a child with a butterfly net desperately trying to capture this elusive thing of beauty.  It has led me on quite the goose chase as I have looked to a variety of places- deepening friendships, lovers arms, alcohol, books, family gatherings, vacation destinations, my career…none of which have ever allowed me to feel fully at home in my own soul again.

Surely by now, what I have realized is what perhaps was the most obvious all along- home is not about other people and home is not just a physical location, but rather, a state of mind and for some reason this state of mind simply could not be reached in my current apartment.  So, I suppose, it is only natural to feel like a rugged, worn out traveler who been on the road, so to speak for the last three years, and I am finally ready to hang up my coat.  Perhaps my utter disdain for my currently living space is because I never mentally came home to it.  Or rather, my heart never came home to me.  But I’m ready now.  I’m ready to love more fully and happily and honestly than I ever have before.  I’m ready for it all.

Welcome home, Jo.  We’ve missed you.

Time To Pounce

Being in transition- the process of or a period of changing from one state to another- is probably the worst, yet best, state one can possibly be to be in.  It is the best because it can mean you are moving up, moving on or just moving forward- all of which are excellent, and crucial, pieces to a fulfilling life.  But those moments between remaining in point A and reaching point B, where you become acutely aware of yourself stuck in the sticky web of life transitions, can be some of the most soul sucking, frustrating and desperate moments you ever experience.

When you realize your heart isn’t in something anymore, it is hard to stand still.  You can see that your heart has been set free of it’s cage and it is our  instinct to run after it.  But there are rules, regulations, logic and logistics in this world that oftentimes, must come first. And so you wait.

And so, here I wait.  Again.  Sometimes I feel like I am always waiting.  Waiting for the workday to end, waiting to lose ten more pounds, waiting for Mr. Right, waiting for my mother to finally understand me, waiting to figure out what I want to do with my life.  Waiting.  Waiting without a clock.

Admittedly, I still hate waiting and probably always will.  But I have learned to approach the waiting game of life with more composure now- the patience of an adult, even if inside, I am throwing a childlike temper tantrum full of flailing limbs and cursory shouts.  If there is one thing  I have learned since my divorce, it’s that sometimes you cannot force things to happen exactly when you want them to lest you risk ruining everything.  You oftentimes cannot control life, as the universe works in strange and funny ways.  And therefore, it pays to play the role of someone calm, cool and calculating rather than the demanding child, acting on emotional whims.   Collect your information.  Gather your thoughts without acting immediately upon them.  Let things sit sometimes.

And then, before you know it, it will be time to pounce.  It will be time to sink your claws into some new opportunity, or feeling, or desire.  But do not rush.  Wait until the universe hands you the key.  For if you listen closely, it will always give you the signal.

 

Scream

The world is crumbling.  I see it.  I see the slow cracks in everything. I see the dust of rubble falling at my feet. I see the ruins before the fire is even ablaze.  The rumble under the earth before a quake.

Everything feels strange.  Off.  Not quite right.

Do you ever feel like this?    Like your world is falling apart, and falling too quickly to repair but at the same time in slow motion?   Everything in your life is changing so quickly it feels foreign and yet so slowly that everything looks the same.

In your mind, you see yourself standing a the center of a vortex while a chaotic whirlwind of thoughts, ideas, possibilities, swirl around you and build a cloud of anxiety and stress over your head.  But the changes are so slow and minute  on the outside, no one notices.  But you notice and stand there as if in an alternate dimension, feeling disconnected from everything and everyone.  You wave your hand at your past, trying to clutch at old memories and habits of comfort only to find your hand is that of a ghosts, moving right through them and unable to grasp.  You can smell the change in the air like a sweet rain rolling in; feel the prickle on your skin as you can sense your life on the brink of morphing into something else.

Maybe it will shatter for the better, revealing something shiny and new.  Maybe it will lead you to a life better led.  Maybe it is destiny or maybe it is a direct result of all you desire, even subconsciously.

But right now it feels like life is simultaneously moving too quickly toward change and yet so slowly you want to scream.  And so you do.  You scream until your cheeks are pink and your lungs bereft.  But no one can hear you.

In this life, you realize, you are entirely alone.

Aug 27th

3 years.  It has officially been a little over 3 years since I started writing here.  3 roller coaster years of chronicling the  highs and lows of the the despair and simultaneous exhilarating freedom of my divorce and subsequent finding of myself (although I fear I am still not quite found, and perhaps I never will be).

Things are strange these days.  In so many ways, I feel lost and worrisome all too often.  Riddled with insomnia and anxiety over the looming changes in my life.  But all at the same time, many of these changes are for the better.  And I really do, firmly believe this. Just change is…hard. And scary.  Really, really scary.  And  it can be so easy to get wrapped up in this terror that, for me, is a package deal that comes neatly tied to any kind of change.

But then days like this happen.
…Days where I am signing for something and I realize that I now, finally, can sign my maiden name instead of my married name (since that process has taken me years longer than the actual divorce).
…Days where I am sitting at a concert, my hand lingering in my partners, and a song comes on that was an anthem to my initial separation, and it hits me how unexpectedly different life is today.  I even get a little misty as I remember how scared and hollow I was then, using this song (among others) to feel stronger than I really was.  It makes me realize I am happy and healthy I am now, and how incredible it is to have a partner who is actually willing to attend a concert with me, even if it’s not his favorite band, just so I have the opportunity to go.
…Days  where I get a notification that this blog has existed for three years.  And I start sifting through old posts from the start of my blogging days, and I don’t recognize the person who wrote those posts.   I am so detached from that person, it doesn’t even feel like it could possibly be myself.

In light of all this change, I have pondered some things that I really have learned over the last four years as my marriage evolved from existent to null.  In true cornball fashion (my last few posts have been a bit heavy, anyway,  no?) this is what I have come up with:

  • It’s totally OK to want to be taken care of by a man. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a strong, feminist woman.  Just don’t let any man take care of you financially.  It is harder to subsist on your own, but the comfort of knowing you can carry yourself is worth it.
  • It’s bullshit to say “love like you’ve never been hurt”.  Use that hurt to protect yourself, learn from it and do better in the next relationship.
  • Always keep an open mind.  About everything.  Literally, about everything and everyone.
  • Don’t be a martyr.  Your life is your own; you need to do you.   Know the difference between being selfish and self care.
  • You are too old (and responsible) to party more than once a week and/or on a weeknight anymore. Sorry.
  • No one- absolutely no one– knows what the fuck they’re doing when it comes to relationships.  Or most of anything else about life for that matter.
  • Summers are no longer about ‘livin’ easy’.  You’re an adult now.  They best thing that might happen to you all summer long is the fact that you don’t need to wear a coat.  Get over it.
  • Sometimes, it’s ok to not forgive.
  • It’s completely OK to hate being single.  It doesn’t make you any less of an independent person, or needy or anything else negative.  The majority of people pair off into relationships because it is empirically really nice to have a partner in this life.
  • Figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life is hard work. Don’t expect it to just come to you naturally.
  • People aren’t always rotten just because they do rotten things.
  • People aren’t always good people because they do nice things.
  • Things are just things- no matter how sentimental.  Your life will go on without them and the memories surrounding them will stick with you even when the objects are gone.
  • Some people just aren’t worth the energy to engage with.  Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong.  Maybe they are screwing you over.  It doesn’t always matter. If it’s sucking your energy dry, just walk away.
  • Talk to strangers.  You never know who you will meet and where it will lead.
  • You do not always need to be the life of the party.
  • You do not need to make apologies about needing alone time.
  • You do not need to make apologies for having a boyfriend and spending time with him, even if it sometimes comes at the expense of spending time with your friends.
  • You are not the expert or authority on anyone or anything. Ever.
  • Give love a chance.  Don’t just say you are.  Actually do it.
  • You cannot plan out your life.  Life unfolds in the most random, if not mysterious of ways.
  • Remember that there is no designated life timeline.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be.  

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