I’ve been realizing more and more that when people ask me how I’m doing — just in the course of everyday idle chitchat — I have less and less of any real dramatic interest to report. I mean, at the risk of calling down every jinxy jinx in the universe upon mine unlucky head, let’s be honest. Things are going pretty great around here.
I love my job. I enjoy what I get to do, which is writing and editing. Most of what I write and edit is funny, lighthearted copy, which is generally my favorite sort of thing to write on a daily basis, since it’s kind of easy for me. And I’m kind of lazy, at heart. By which I mean I prefer to do things I’m good at, given the choice. And I get to work from home most days. I drive in to the big city a couple times a week, but the rest of the time I write funny, lighthearted copy from my couch.
This incredible lifestyle has given me the freedom of time and energy, physical and mental, to get my health in gear. I’ve been running for the last year and watching what I eat, and as a result I’ve lost 45 pounds. This is, as you can imagine, freaking awesome.
I live on Cape Cod, which I love. I grew up here, as longtime readers of my blog know (in somewhat excruciating detail), and although I moved back here 11 years ago with somewhat mixed feelings about the whole endeavor, I basically couldn’t be more ecstatic about the situation now. I love my tiny little house on the river where I can see the sun rise over the water in the winter when the leaves are off the trees, and I can see the lush leafy growth of a largely untouched swampy pine forest when they’re not.
I have a garden. I have friends. I’m less of a hermit than I used to be. I go out. I’ve joined a few groups and social circles that work for me on any number of levels.
Are there some less-than-great things scattered around my general landscape? Oh, sure. One of my cats died in October, my best boy, my favorite, my one true love. That was painful as heck. We still have his sister, who is also awesome, but who is now getting smothered by so much affection and care that it will probably be twice as crushing when she, too, shuffles off her mortal coil. That’s a problem. It’s not one I can solve, though. So maybe it’s better to call it a “situation.” It’s a thing. It exists. I miss my boycat something fierce, and my girlcat isn’t immortal. Alas.
I have too much debt and not enough cash on hand. But I’m better off than most — I don’t have kids, I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t have crushing amounts of student debt. But I still have lots of bills to pay, and that causes me some — I dunno. Discomfort? And not half as much as it used to. I guess I’ve just gotten used to having to pay bills all the time, and it grates on my nerves less and less as time goes on.
And, oh, you know, all of the usual crap. I’ve got my share of hypochondriacal woes, like these bumps on my head that I’ve had since I was 18 and that I occasionally convince myself are going to kill me in some unpleasant way one of these days. I’m not as good a friend or sister or daughter as I probably should be. I’m self involved and narcissistic and filled with pride and fear and grandiosity and resentments and bile. Some days are better than others. Some days I still feel that nameless anxiety creeping up from the pit of my belly and I forget what my magical incantations are to make it go away. Some days I replay in my head over and over and over again all of the stupid things I’ve ever said or done and why nobody is ever going to like me ever again once they realize — or remember — what an impossible jerk I am.
But honestly, all of that pretty much pales in comparison with how bad things were once upon a time for me.
When I still lived in New York, and things were bad and (although I didn’t know it then, but) about to get much, much worse, I used to walk around the neighborhood and wish for three things. A car (I hadn’t owned one in years, and not by choice), a job (I was working restaurants and nightclubs at the time, and desperately needed to Get Out Of That), and a house (I was living in a rented flat that was nice enough, but I was yearning for my little house by the sea).
And look: I’ve got all that now. But that’s not even the best part. I’ve got my calm back. I’ve got my steady back. I’ve got my general easygoingness and even-keeledness that people used to know me for, back before. Before things got dicey.
I’m back to being me. That’s incredible. That’s insane. That’s great.
I’m not saying any of this to make anyone feel bad, or jealous, or high-fivey or group-huggy or whatever. I just thought it might be useful to somebody else, somehow. You know, if things are really spectacularly bad for you now, too, or if you’ve got a horrible suspicion that they’re about to get much, much worse, or if it’s just that that nameless dread still comes snaking up out of your belly sometimes, too, that it does get better. I mean, it can.
There are no guarantees. But such things are possible. Likely, even, if you know even one or two of the right levers to pull.
Even this much was way more than I knew, or even suspected, way back then. And I think it might have helped me out, a little, if someone had told me. I dunno. Maybe not. But it’s worth a try.
I mentioned in my last post that I used to write post cards to myself, back before we moved here. I wanted my future self to tell my current self that it was going to be okay, that she was waiting for me, and that it was awesome where she was.
Now I guess I want to do that for somebody else, too.
Also: If you’re already on this side of the fence, it’s okay to admit you’re happy. I know. It’s not really the done thing. In fact in many circles it’s considered to be in extremely poor taste.
Screw them. I’ll risk the faux pas. Just this once.