today’s report

I got up.

I read.

I took a shower.

I fixed lunch (and read).

I thought about doing laundry.

I took a nap.

I provided feedback on a university piece in which I am quoted.

I completed my paper revisions.

I sent some emails.

I decided it was too late to start laundry.

I fixed dinner (and watched TV).

I headed to bed with a book.

That is all.

okay

My life may be different now, it may be very unappealing to me, but the days are still passing, and I need to come up with something else to talk about than my roiling emotions, deep unhappiness and general apathy.

Okay.

I went to the local farmer’s market this morning.  Tomatoes, zucchini, blueberries: yum.  Summer is really the only time I eat vegetables – because it’s the only time they actually taste like vegetables – so I enjoy picking out my veggies at the market each week.  I even bought into a CSA this summer, where you have credit at the market rather than a basket of veg delivered to your door – because what in the world would I do with a basket of anything, given my eating and (non)cooking habits? 

I went to a movie with some girlfriends later in the day.  It wasn’t particularly good.  This summer has been a little slow on the movie front, it feels, but there are some good ones lined up for the fall (or so the trailers indicate).

I’m thinking I may take a trip to the closest big city before the semester starts to do a little shopping.  I wouldn’t mind some new clothes, especially if I can keep the weight off I’ve lost this summer.  I don’t have time before I leave for my conference this coming Friday – and I should see if the weight stays off for a bit before thinking about a different wardrobe.  I don’t need lots of stuff, but a few new trousers, blouses and dresses would be welcome for the fall.

There, some normal topics for a change.

because reading

Reading has been my salvation more often than I can say. 

When I was growing up, you’d have been hard pressed to find me without a book.  I read before I fell asleep, first thing when I woke up, on the bus, at the dinner table (when I could get away with it), at family gatherings, in the car, in class.  I checked out more books than I could carry at the library; I snuck books from my sister’s and brother’s rooms; I borrowed books from relatives. When we traveled on family vacations, my side of the car always included a bag of books – a very large bag, too.  I don’t know exactly why I read so voraciously.  I loved the stories, obviously, but there was simply a compulsion to read.  

Hindsight being what it is, I suppose I was escaping my square peg-ness between the pages of all those books.  When I was reading, I fit into my own space.  I was lost in another world and that world was so much more suited to me than the one I was inhabiting.  That’s rather melodramatic, actually – and I don’t know how 18th century London or 19th century Virginia was exactly “more suited” to me – but that’s the best I can do.

I stopped reading as much in high school and college – my work load and social life took a big chunk out of my free time – but I still managed to read a little, mostly during the summers. I usually had a book with me when I went away for any length of time, and I usually read at night, before I went to sleep.

When I went to London, first for study abroad, then on a work visa, the first thing I did was sign up for a library card at the closest public library.  That was my entertainment most evenings: free, engrossing, distracting.  I didn’t have as much money as some of my fellow students; I didn’t manage to meet a guy to while away my evenings.  So I read, a lot.

As an adult, I realize that I retreat to my bookshelves when things aren’t going so well in my actual life.  I always have a book beside my bed and, often, one sitting on the coffee table but when I’m happy engrossed in something or someone, I only manage a few chapters a week at most.  I suppose my life is entertaining enough at those times; I don’t want to escape it, I want to live it, so my books take a back seat.  I’m still buying them, of course, and stacking them all over my house – in bookcases, on the floor, beside the sofa, beside the bed – perhaps because I know it’s only a matter of time before I’ll need them again.

I started reading with the same greediness of my youth while I was on sabbatical.  Part of it was the sheer relief of having time to indulge in reading something I wasn’t using in a paper.  Part of it, I realize now, was because I could feel the sadness encroaching and I needed to escape it. Not exactly the healthiest approach, I suppose, but humans are rarely logical when it comes to their own lives.  I kept it up over this last year, burning through books at night and on the weekends.  I would pack several books anytime I got on a plane, often buying one or two more on the return trip because I was through with the others.  I took six to London with me this summer, bought about nine more there, and only brought three home (one of which I finished on the plane) – in a month’s worth of travel.

So, I’m reading lots now, mostly mysteries and thrillers, a few historical fictions – nothing that requires a whole lot of intellectual stamina.  I’m not happy, and that makes sense right now, but I can forget that if I’m engrossed in the words on the page.  Once again, the books have come to my rescue, and I’m quite certain we will continue to be good friends in the years ahead of me.

finding the normal

I made record time yesterday, so I suppose I was quite ready to get back to my own bed.  It is a very comfortable (and empty) bed.

Today was what I expect will be the shape of things to come: some errands, worked on paper revisions, answered emails, drafted a memo, read a journal, went to dinner with friends. Tomorrow will be more of the same: pick up my watch from the jeweler, go to the grocery store, draft my response to the editor’s feedback, respond to emails, do something with friends.  

Being busy doesn’t really equate to being happy but I suppose it will suffice.

 

in limbo

This is my last night in Home State and that’s probably a good thing.

My laptop crashed today – so, no, I will not be submitting that conference proposal – not that I get much done while I’m here anyway. Even at the best of times, my mind can’t focus on academic matters while I’m here. Without a laptop, though, I can’t even attempt to get anything done, my phone not being my weapon of choice when it comes to data analysis or paper revision.

I’ve spent time with the folks. I’ve spent time with the two friends I always see here. I’ve spent time with my favorite aunt. I’ve spent time with my nieces and nephew. Now I need to spend some time getting my life together.

And being here is not conducive to that. I wish coming “home” felt like an actual return to a place I belonged. I so do not fit in here – I would say “anymore” but I think it’s fair to say I never did. I could have, perhaps, if I had gone to the local university that half my graduating class did and married my high school boyfriend (that’s probably a big perhaps). Neither of those things happened, though, and my choices from that point on only led me farther and further away.

So, I come home, I stay for a week or so and I dash back to my life elsewhere, such as it is. And I carry the guilt of my inability to connect with my family with me wherever I go.

let’s work on that support thing

My family – god love ‘em – are not equipped for heartbreak.  I know they love me, regardless of what’s happening in my life, but they are simply useless when it comes to my life and relationships.  (Actually, now that I write that, I realize I could have finished that sentence with “my life” but that’s another topic.)

I spent Tuesday in the car, driving to Home State for my summer visit.  It just works out that way: I go to London, I get back London, I catch my breath, I visit the family.  This summer is a bit trickier, since I have an overseas conference the first week of August and a professional meeting relatively close to Home State (where I am at the moment).  So, I crammed a family visit in between all the other requirements, commitments and general things to do.  Otherwise, I think I would have waited for a bit longer.

I was home for about 24 hours before I had to come to my meeting.  In that time, I spent time with my sister, my mom, my dad, my older nieces and my brother.  Not one of them mentioned SG.  Not one of them asked me how I was doing.  I got a welcome hug and then life moved on as usual.

I get that my parents are a little lost in all this – for one, my mom doesn’t remember I was with anyone, so she’s forgiven, and my dad is very out of his depth on matters of the heart.  He told me he was sorry on the phone and that “things work out in the end” (to which I replied, “yes, they do but rarely how we want them to”).  And I my brother and I don’t really share personal stuff so I wouldn’t expect anything from him.  My sister?  My nieces?  A little consciousness that I’m not doing so well right now would be greatly appreciated.

Interestingly, one of my colleagues offered more support than my family could muster.  My trip to the meeting was awful – delays, mixed up addresses – so I arrived late and flustered.  As we walked back to the hotel afterward, we were catching up on life and – probably because I was tired and overwhelmed – I told her about SG.  

And she gave me a hug and said, “I am so sorry.  That is such a life shift for you.”  And then she asked me if I was okay, and I honestly told her, “No.”  And she gave me another hug. We’re collegial friends, not exactly prone to deep confidences, but yet she’s the first person on this trip “home” to ask me how I am and offer some comfort upon my response.

And that, gentle readers, is why my friends play such an important role in my life – and why losing my best friend is such a loss to me.

don’t expect me to be good company

Someone told me to smile the other day – in a pleasant way – and I thought, “The emotion that drives that action isn’t here just yet.”  I can put a smile on my face but that’s as far as it goes; I don’t even want to look in the mirror and see my blank eyes.

How do you fill the hole when someone leaves you?  For the last four and a half years, I’ve had SG beside me, physically and electronically.  We talked every day; we texted funny happenings; we emailed interesting links.  He was the person who held my hand, who listened to my craziness, who laughed at my silliness.  I felt…safe…when I was with him; his arms seemed to block out everything that was wrong with my life.

I know I’m selectively remembering our relationship.  There were plenty of things that weren’t so idyllic: his hatred of my snoring, my irritation at his singular focus on swing dancing, our increasing distance.  We didn’t always have something to say to each other at the end of the day; we weren’t always in sync with what we wanted or what we needed.

But he was there.  And I did love him, however illogical that may be when you total up our differences.  And now, he’s not here and it doesn’t matter how I feel about him.

So, yes, I am grieving, for what we had and what we lost along the way.  And I know that doesn’t make me very good company.  I’m lost in my own thoughts most of the time; it takes effort to focus on anything.  I come here to make sense of what I’m thinking and feeling, which means anyone kind enough to read this blog is subjected to my emotional turmoil.  

At some point, I’ll stop trying to make sense of this because other things will intrude on my melancholy.  Today, I finally managed to focus on real work: writing a chapter prospectus and revising a manuscript.  That will be the norm soon, with the semester starting in just over a month: me, focusing on work.  And I’ll be much more pleasant when I get to that point.