« Conversation/Window | Main | This Is How We Do It »

April 12, 2011

Ups and Downs, and Golf

Usually I have no problem writing copious paragraphs about my emotional response to all things in life like emery boards or wasabi paste or cat litter. Emotions seem to pop into my life in fully-formed paragraphs. Except right now.

Right now I feel like a bug trapped under glass. Is that an emotion? I don't even want to say out loud (in words) what is really going on beneath the surface because that makes it real. And I have all this senseless brain chatter telling me I should be grateful and look on the bright side when what I really want to do is scream. And screaming doesn't seem very Southern or Nice.

My solution is to focus solely on ridiculous things, like scouring and cleaning and bleaching grout. My mind says: "I can't control where I live, and that makes me want to sit in a corner and eat my hair, so even though this is just temporary housing I still need clean grout. AS GOD IS MY WITNESS THIS GROUT WILL BE CLEAN."

All that shelf-papering and cleaning and handwashing makes me feel the illusion of control. I like the way you scrub a thing and the stains come out. It's predictable, with an outcome you can rely upon. I need one thing to rely upon right now. I like how you can haul every single item of clothing and all linens in your possession to the laundromat and after a series of sensible, pre-determined moves (load, fill, soap, quarters, wash, unload, dryer, dryer sheet, quarters, dry, repeat) everything in your entire life made of fabric is crisp and clean and smelling like Ecover eucalyptus soap. This is what I have been doing instead of crying or hollering or even whispering the words, I just lost my home and I hate it.

On Saturday I did something that I haven't done since I was in the midst of my divorce. I know it's the stress and the lack of sleep and anxiety combined, it makes my brain short out and go haywire. I'm still ashamed of it anyway.

Saturday morning I woke up crazy early. I had an event in Orange County, in Irvine. It's quite a drive from here. I had planned to go visit my grandmother that day and since I was up so early I thought I should go before the event and we could hang out for a while in the morning.

I got up, made coffee. For breakfast I had nothing here to eat, no cereal, no apples, no oatmeal. So I made a little pot of rice on the stove and ate a bowl of brown rice, got dressed, fed the cats, grabbed my map to the Irvine location. I got in the Jeep and made it across the 101, through downtown, down the 5 all the way to Commerce when I suddenly thought about the rice.

Did I turn the stove off?
Did I?
Did I leave the pan on the burner?
Did I turn the burner off?

I know you don't know where I live now (Unspecified Location) and probably don't know where Commerce is, anyway, but to put it into perspective I drove an hour in early morning Saturday traffic (light) that was the equivalent drive from Tampa to Orlando. And then I made a U-turn in Orlando-equivalent and backtracked in medium traffic to Tampa-equivalent knowing I would have to re-drive this whole thing in very heavy traffic for HOURS.

But there was no way to avoid it. I couldn't keep going. I do at least know myself well enough to know I couldn't go to the event, participate fully, talk to strangers, sign books, visit, go see grandma, and then drive three hours back all while wondering if my temporary housing was on fire or poisoning my cats with gas fumes. I would have lost it midway through, lost it majestically.

This is what I do when my anxiety is so high that I stop functioning normally. I do things like drive all the way to COMMERCE (ORLANDO) and have to turn around and drive an hour back home. Yes the stove was off the whole time, of course, and thank God, and then I got back in the car and re-drove back to Orange County.

It's too much pressure sometimes, there's no back up, no one to check on things for me, it's all too much. Or that's what I told myself as I drove back up the 5 freeway and across downtown, across the 101, back to this place where I still don't have a mailbox key yet. Too much! Can't do it!

Of course you do it, and it's not too much, and the stove was off, the cats were fine, Commerce was lovely the second time around. I made it to Irvine and after it was done I went to visit Grandma.

I told her about all of it, the move, the boxes, the fear, the stupid stove. I told her I felt selfish and stupid to tell her all this junk when she herself was in a wheelchair, no longer living in her own home. How can I complain, bemoan?

"That's nonsense," she said. "Everyone has good times and everyone has bad times. We all just do the best we can where we are."

There's something about Grandma. She's not being trite or washing over things. She knows bad times. She isn't making light. She's just got the long lens, the 88-year-lens. She really means what she's saying and for the first time in weeks I sat beside her and I actually felt calmed, a little.

"So you're having a bad time," she said. "You will get through this, people always do. Now let's watch some golf."

We sat there for a while, and we watched some golf.

- - -

Comments are not available for this entry.

Posted by laurie at April 12, 2011 12:32 PM