I turned 43 in April. Two weeks have passed since my birthday. There have been clouds and sun.
In high school, I decided I was disenchanted with birthdays. I had no parties, did nothing in particular with friends. I don’t remember why. I’m grateful friends persisted, offering cards and happy birthday. Now I relish it. Being honest: I need it. I am told to be grateful, to reflect with grace, and I’m fortunate to be reminded this way when my past tendency has been to pull myself down. You may know this voice: so many things I haven’t done, so many failures to Live Up To My Potential. Friends, I hope you are as relieved as me to know that voice has been silent. It’s made a return the last months, but up and down, very loud then very silent. I prefer the silence.
Last Wednesday, I finished the first chapter of the book. It’s only a draft: incomplete and patchy. But it’s a start. I feel I know it a lot more. Writing it was up and down, wrenching and light, the wrenching parts feeling like grad school, the light parts like the best college, the best of my late 20s. It’s as if I’ve forgotten how free and exciting writing can be and am remembering. I’m remembering the frustration and questioning too. I’ve been staying at my office building after work, squatting in an unused space marked SHANGHAI LANDING, pulling the glass door closed and writing. It’s taken too long, even a couple hours each day not seeming to build up much. (How much exactly I don’t know: counting words was watching the clock instead of paying attention. I write by time instead: half-hour, two hours.) But last Wednesday when I got to the end, it felt like an end that led somewhere. Finished, I sat at the desk and felt light. It was going, even a little bit.
A woman reached out to me and we started talking. We had a phone call where the electricity reached through the ether, lighting us. We had a first date where we ended at the verge. We had a great time anyway. She sent me texts that made it hard to focus on work. We had a second date last Thursday. Friday the tone changed; Friday night she said she couldn’t continue, over the phone. She considered the notice personal. It was a whirlwind. I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t surprised, not really, and not upset. But I don’t sleep well beyond the recent not sleeping well, and I feel a new guilt about the divorce.
Here’s the positive view. We are walking and talking, my friend and me. Now you know what that feels like, and you know what to aim for in the future. He’s right. He’s older, and wiser than he lets on. It’s a good thing to believe.
I am not sleeping and must sleep. I am facing the end of the Ambien I got stuck on over Thanksgiving. I could have ended it before, should have ended it when I didn’t have a job to go to, or when I ran out the first time a month ago. I didn’t. It’s a pattern. I haven’t been focused on should have done for a while.
I feel well; I feel unwell enough to remind me of ten years ago. I feel a buoyant strength and happiness; I feel there has only ever been gravity and cold and the raw desperate ghost of loss . The sun fends off some of it.
We are people who feel things in a big way. Walking with my friend, the forest is illuminated with spring. Sounds pretty normal to me.