Let’s go somewhere
Anywhere at all
“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside—remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
The air conditioner was going out last summer, but I didn’t care enough to call the landlord. I did, once, and he filled it up with freon and I said okay thanks and then I paid $200 electricity bills so it could be 80 degrees inside our small apartment when we went to bed.
We were comfortable with warmth, or at least we could tolerate it.
What I couldn’t tolerate then was fighting anyone else about anything. I was fighting the biggest battle of my life and I didn’t have energy for skirmishes on the side.
In the morning, I write
In the mornings I woke up startled, panicked. I would sit straight up, gulping in air. I’d stare at the curtains, summer light, a fan spinning, and the heavy wooden white desk I got for free shoved under the window. For a while I didn’t have a desk chair so I moved one of our kitchen chairs back and forth.
It was coolest in the morning. The kids slept in and I poured coffee and took it to the tiny balcony. I sat in the rocking chair and went through the routine, the list of questions and answers: he left me. He left me? Yes. He’s gone. He’s gone? Really? Yes. He’s gone. We’re separated. How long? Months now. I’m alone? Alone. All alone. Sleep alone, wake alone. We’re getting divorced. We’re getting divorced? Right. I’m alone. I’ll keep being alone. He doesn’t want to be married? No. Why not?
That last one stumped me every time. I never found an answer. I learned to stop asking it. Eventually, I found better questions.
After a while I would move inside to my desk, turn the dial down on the q+a session and try to answer emails and write pitches and edit essays and respond coherently to clients. It was challenging. Sometimes I would just sit there and cry, or sit there and stare, or sit there and type the same sentence over and over. Several hours would go by.
In the afternoon, we swim
“Let’s go to the pool,” I would say, as if it were a new idea I had every single day. The kids would look up and give some form of assent. There would be a few moments of chaos. Who left their lunch dishes out. Where’s my other sandal. Who has the sunscreen.
Then we’d file out the door, down the stairs, through the garage, into the beat-up car. Cardi B on blast to the dismay of everyone but me. Sunglasses up, windows down, let’s go.
Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.
That was the battlecry, turns out. Let’s go. Let’s keep moving forward. Let’s go here so I don’t go there. Let’s go out so we don’t go back. Let’s go somewhere, anywhere, because not going is bad. Sitting is bad. Thinking is bad. Feeling is bad. Going is good.
Processing is important, sure, and facing reality, and accepting things beyond your control and getting all the emotions out in the open.
But easy now, easy now.
We’re so damn focused on fixing things. Throw that trauma in a microwave, warm it up, get it malleable, let’s deal with it today! Unzip it, zap it, quickly unwrap it, c’mon don’t you want to grow? C’mon don’t you want to heal? Don’t you want to get better? Life is waiting for you! Life is out there! Deal with your shit so you can get back to pursuing happiness.
It’s like forcing someone to start physical therapy when the bone is still broken, splintered, protruding from the skin, when every movement is agony.
There’s a time and place for active recovery.
But first (and, I think, for a much longer time and a much bigger space than we usually allow) there’s just the courageous act of staying alive in the agony, and finding a few small ways to anchor yourself here. Let’s go for a walk, let’s go to the pool, let’s have a snack, let’s watch a show. Let’s keep being alive. That’s the work.