Friday, February 18, 2011

I recall the experience...

Every morning, I descend down this long escalator to the metro:

Inscribed on the stone wall all around the metro's entrance is a quote by Walt Whitman. I have no idea why this particular quote was chosen but it is:

Thus in silence in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all dark night - some are so young;
Some suffer so much - I recall the experience sweet and sad...
-Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1876

We are all so disconnected here.  I rode the metro today with a coworker of mine standing right in front of me the entire ride.  He never looked at me, because we don't meet eyes around here.  I cram on the train with my arm tucked around someone's waist so I can reach a pole to steady myself on.  My back presses against someone else and we all collectively suck in our breath so we can make sure the doors close and train moves.  I hurl through the darkness clutching strangers for balance, and the whole time, we never speak, never look at each other.  Its as if we aren't there at all.  Ghosts.  For me, usually, it's the only time I'm touched all day unless I see someone after work.

As we reached our stop, I reached out and touched my coworkers arm and he jerked it back and turned to me with a glare before realizing it was me.  Our defenses are so up, all the time.  Don't look at this homeless person, don't look at this person who looks sad, don't even think about looking at someone asking you for money.  We drift and it strikes me sometimes how god-awful lonely we all look. 

We break apart as the train emptys, our morning embraces forgotten, shaken off and in the haste of the day we separate -never knowing anyone, never speaking, never looking.  The pattern repeats in the afternoon, and I ascend the same escalator and trudge up with my footsteps echoing and my ipod clutched in my hand and I'm thinking of how we're going to keep people on Medicaid, and how we're going to get through these lawsuits, and how I'm going to get through the next few months. About how god-awful lonely I am most of the time, and how I am both luckier than hell and sad at the same damn time.  And I look at the quote which I know will remind me always of my time spent here, now, in Dupont Circle as my twenties wind down and the rest of my life winds up. 

I'll recall the experience sweet and sad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All the things I do not know

Update:  I slept. For ten hours. I feel like a new person =)

"I (hiccup) want (sob) you (gasp) to (hiccup) hold (sob) meeeee" My three year old nephew wailed this pitifully from the step of his "time out" designated stairstep. I'd just walked by him and was determinedly ignoring him since I wasn't exactly sure how this whole time-out protocol is currently working for my sister and kiddos. But, this broke my heart….and I'm not his mother, I'm his soft-hearted aunt and I never get to see him and now he's got his arms out for me and the ends of his hair are sweaty from crying and of course, I grabbed him up. I rocked him on the stairstep a minute before my sister came to check on him, looked at me exasperated, then smiled and freed him from his stairstep prison.

Approximately 12 hours later, I'd be repeating this mantra.

Around 1am this morning, as I sat up in bed after not sleeping a wink, with my head in my hands crying as every anxiety, doubt, worthless and awful feeling consumed me. My poor sleep-deprived best friend, who was due to get up at 4am to get me to the airport by 5:40 am, so I could fly here in time for work this morning, rolled over and asked if I was okay. I was so not okay. God bless her, she did hold me and ask a million questions about what is wrong (I was incredibly helpful in answering her "everythiiiiiing" and what could she do about it? "nothiiiiing")

Of course, everything is not wrong and there is a great deal she can do to keep me balanced and sane, along with the rest of the people who sustain me. But sometimes at 1am, it sure as hell feels like it its all wrong even with someone saying how much they love you over and over.

I went home for the weekend to try to re-find my balance, to even out my inner self--I've been spending too much time alone, and too much time working, and forgetting too easily how many people do love me and instead focusing on who does not. What I don't have. What I fear I'll never have. (My upcoming birthday is doing nothing to help quell these tick-tick-tick feelings of not only the biological clock, but just my overall clock as well and how I'm using my time here).

The weekend didn't do much to help that though, unfortunately. Home is a haven, but it is not immune from problems and issues, and of course, their lives are going on and they have their own struggles. My grandmother is getting older, my stepfather is getting more unpredictable, my mother is getting more stressed. I had a lot of niece and nephew time though, and that was most important. Even though a four year old coughed in my face all.night.long on Saturday night, and babies spit up on me, and three year olds had three year old tantrums, it was well worth it.

So here I sit at work, so freakin tired that I don’t know if I'll make it past lunchtime, I guess I'm going to have to come to grips with the fact that I just don't know a damn thing. I have no earthly idea if I'll ever somehow transition from the life I'm living to the life I want to live. If I will ever stop feeling like I take two running leaps forward toward that life, only to crash into a wall and slide to the bottom, then rip my jeans climbing over it.

My friend dropped me off at the airport this morning and I mumbled bye and started to drag the suitcase off after hugging her. I was a little embarrassed at how ca-razy I had been a few hours before…it was certainly not my best side and couldn't have been a picnic for her so I was trying to make a fast exit. She grabbed my arm back, and took my face in her hands and made me look in her eyes--I have a hard time doing that sometimes if I'm feeling sad or whatnot. She said "I adore you. When you think you have nothing, you have that."

So I have that. And I have this big, weird, wonderful family and one zillion kids that fight over who gets to sit on my lap at church. A good job, money, a roof over my head, and a cruise in the fall to the greek isles. Things to look forward to, and a life that is going to go forward even if I can't see past next Tuesday.

Maybe one day, I can finally feel that I have it all. And that maybe, I have all along.