2006-04-25 - 8:02 p.m.
I’ve kind of been in crisis mode for the past month or so. Maybe longer…but it’s hard to tell or put a finger on it. When I say crisis mode I mean that I am coming to a point in this phase of my life where certain parts of my being, learned personality and inherent personality, are coming into focus. And I have to deal with them. I am realizing, at this point, one year exactly since I quit working, that jobs, careers (while necessary) are an escape, an excuse, a modality of blindness. When I announced that I had finally given my two weeks notice people were taken aback, I got the, “Won’t you be bored?” question more times than I could count. It honestly didn’t occur to me that I was bored or dealing with a huge void of being, until I had been here for about five months. I had other things to deal with. Grocery stores to tackle, certain movements in a new home to make automatic, cats to worry about. But there did come a point where I almost lost it…all it took was one simple, everyday fuck up at the grocery store. I don’t remember exactly what happened but I do remember leaving that day thinking that I was good at nothing, that I couldn’t even manage to get groceries…I wanted to go back to work at that moment (I would get misty eyed watching bartenders going through their motions) because work was something I was always really good at. I could fuck up an entire week but I never fucked up work. I was magic at work. When I quit working I lost that one thing I could always count on to bolster my ego. Work is my crutch.
And that shouldn’t be so. Every single person on this planet should be able to take a month, year, a lifetime off work without missing it or feeling empty because that chunk of our day is gone. People should not keel over and die when they retire. Work should not be our will to live.
So that is my first crisis. I realize(d) that I need to be whole without work. (Though I DO realize the responsibility we all have to work and if I were in a country where I could work I would work even though I don’t want to) Being here in Spain, forced to come to terms on a huge scale with every nuance of myself has been an experience I never in a million years thought could happen. Who am I? Really? Without work? With every last thing that I am good at stripped away? I can’t even garden here because I can’t figure out the soil or growing seasons or snails.
My second crisis is that I am realizing that I have a huge problem with loss. With missing. I hoard things. Even little things. I have enough Carmex to last me a year, maybe more, and yet I am so scared of being without it that I buy as much as I can whenever I can and instruct Eric to do the same. I caught myself a couple weeks ago really wanting too put cilantro in my scrambled eggs but not wanting to use any of the cilantro I had in the fridge for fear that the next day I might want to use it again. I am hoarding things even that I can go around the corner to buy. CILANTRO for god’s sake. I am hoarding cilantro. Denying myself cilantro for fear I won’t have it the next day. That’s the kind of shit I do. Today I went to the beach, took a long walk and then got ice cream. I was sitting on the beach, eating my ice cream, watching the waves curl in against the shore and I was so euphorically happy…thinking to myself that I should do that every day, I should spend at least half an hour every day at the beach…and instantly after having that thought I talked myself out of it because in a few months I probably won’t be here anymore and I don’t want to get used to the beach because then I will miss it for the rest of my life.
I know how I miss things. I still think about, with nothing but sheer yearning, a tomato I ate seven years ago. I will dwell on loss for the rest of my life. So I am wondering now…should I just honor that in myself? Should I deny myself the pleasure of the beach for four months or should I go? Let myself become a person that craves the beach and then rip it away from myself when we move? I had a similar thought process the other day. I was looking for some language schools in Barcelona, thinking that I would start taking classes there because it would get me to the city on a regular basis AND I would be able to speak outside of my box (my box constituting the gym and the grocery store). I started thinking about how cool life would be, taking the train every day to the city, wandering aimlessly, learning to talk, learning the city…and then I got sad knowing that if I did that it would only last a little while. So what do I do with this knowledge? That I don’t handle non-permanence well? Do I insist that the next time we move we move with the thought that we could be in that spot for the next fifty years? Or do I keep taking these opportunities that will surely come my way via my husband? Is it possible that I could learn to NOT hoard? And just live for a moment?
Crisis the third. The same old. I suck at writing. Taking these classes just crushes me. At the same time I am being crushed I know that if I really dedicate myself I could do something, I could succeed. Writing is only partly about being able to understand emotion and humanity…it is more about dedication. How many of these classes do I have to take before I realize that YOU CANNOT SIT DOWN THE DAY BEFORE A SHORT STORY IS DUE FOR REVIEW AND WRITE IT??? I am realizing that a short story (except for the rare few that probably will never come to me) needs a lot of time. Like movie stars…sure, they have the foundation but it takes a fucking long time to get them movie star beautiful. My short stories are like a movie star who went on a drinking/smoking binge for a weekend with no sleep and then stopped at the grocery store in sweatpants and a ponytail for milk before going home to sleep finally.
Crisis the fourth. I went for about four months in the last two years without waking up in a panic about moving. This is taking a toll on me. I don’t want to move anymore. What would make me feel better about all this? If we could know we are going to be here for a certain amount of time. If someone could say, “You are going to be in Spain for six more months.” (or whatever, I would like it to be a couple more years…but whatever.) Because I DO NOT want to be told we are moving in two weeks. And have no where to go except a hotel and the cats in boarding until we can find a place to live. This terrifies me. I wish that I had kept my house (though there was no way I could have done that). At least I would have someplace to go back to. We need to save enough money for a down payment on a house. Saving money has been a trying task. On the one hand we should be taking advantage of living in Europe and seeing as much as we can. On the other hand, I have gotten to the point where even spending ten euros on parking makes me panic because I think that ten euros should be put away for a house. If I found out that we were only going to be here for another six months I would go back to the states right now and find a house. I would find a way to get a down payment. Then I would come back here for a few months and move back to the states ahead of Eric and start working. I think about this stuff constantly. And I know I shouldn’t because it is mostly out of my control. The best I can do is just make sure that everyone knows that I don’t want to be in limbo when this all comes down. And hope that everyone involved in this decision honors me. And it would be nice if someone would send me a check for a lot of money. That would ease some panic too.
Anyway…the good things about this past year of life…I am enjoying the fact that little things like finding my way to a particularly confusingly routed grocery store can cause me to feel extremely accomplished. We miss that opportunity when we live in our own country. It’s a nice opportunity to have.
I am enjoying coming to the awareness that “home” takes time. I took for granted that I lived in my old house for more than ten years and that feeling I would get frequently when arriving at my door did not come right away. It took years for me to get that feeling the first time. I can’t even describe that feeling. But I am sure some people understand it. When you can walk into your house and immediately feel full of pride, safe, secure, at home. When you can just sit on your couch and smile for no reason, look around you and know every object, every shadow on the wall, every sound intimately. I haven’t had that feeling here yet…but there is a glimmer of it every so often. I know that if I were to stay here long enough I would have it again. And it’s good to know that someday I will feel that again. Someday when I can paint the walls my colors and fill the house with my things again.
I am so happy that my cats are insanely happy now. That alone is enough to make me want to stay here forever. Even though I don’t like living in Spain and will never feel wowed by this place, I would stay here (if I could) for my cats. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when they bound across the yard at top speed…or like now when all six of them are sprawled out around me in the sunlight. I like that I have given them a year of this.
I like that I am becoming more aware of myself…that I am less likely now to pretend to be someone else when it’s convenient. The other day I cancelled a BBQ I had invited two of Eric’s colleagues to. They were here for work from the States and we said, “come over Sunday, spend the day at the pool, we’ll have a BBQ!” Throughout the rest of the evening little things started to bug me…the looks of horror when I came out of the health food store laden with tofu and soy products…even more horror when I emerged from the vegetable market with bags of vegetables. One of them said, “Just so you know, don’t make salad for me, I don’t like salad.” Another one said after I was recommending a pasta with mushroom sauce at a restaurant, “You know, I don’t like vegetables.” (Mushrooms are apparently a vegetable to this person but potatoes are not because he then pronounced himself a meat and potatoes kind of guy.) And later…the kicker for me, “Just so we know, there WILL be meat at this BBQ won’t there?” And I cancelled it. Because fuck. There probably WOULD have been meat at this BBQ. I don’t expect to change people. I want people to enjoy themselves. But the meat should have just been a happy surprise for them. They should have come prepared to just eat bread and potatoes. That’s what I do. I go to BBQ’s expecting to eat potato salad. If someone has a veggie burger for me it is a happy surprise. This is my home and I am the one that prepares the food. I am not a vegetarian for any other reason than I don’t want animals to die. I think that should be respected. And from now on it will be. I like that I cancelled it. I am done not being myself.
Oh so…this is very long now. I am supposed to be writing my story. Which is due tomorrow. I have five pages written actually…but there is no movement in the story. It’s five pages of which I can use about half a page of.
All I really want to do right now is go watch movies.
Maybe I will.
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