I should not do things when I’m tired, I think, dismayed over a social media post gone slightly awry – but I’m so often tired. Lately I’ve started the days with a meditation app, which is supposed to help. With lots of things. It’s not – at least, not yet.
Instead the soothing voice clears away just enough of the trivial thoughts for the most painful to come rushing in. Not only has my insomnia worsened, but even during the day I find myself breathing faster, anxiety and anger gripping my brain. Unresolved conflicts eat away at my more thoughtful self, and I find that I’m trapped in sentences full of adjectives instead of freed by active verbs.
When I’m on the road, the company I keep is podcasts and music, conference calls and emails. My time divides neatly: try to mediate, do yoga, make coffee, walk or surf or ride my bike, eat, map out my obligations, check them off, go outside again, eat, call my family, read, sleep. As soon as I rise in the morning, I pull off the comforter and pillows, fold the bed back into a couch. My room shifts from bedroom to office. At night, I tuck the computer away, unfold the couch, fluff the pillows and snuggle in.
This morning I broke my rule, am sitting here typing amidst the pillows. I’m breaking another rule, the one that says I should be sure I have something to say.
Sometimes the beginning of whatever you’re trying to write appears further into the story than you expect. I tire of waiting. Let’s force it: Home does not sort into compartments the way life on the road does; this past week steamrolled me and I can’t figure out exactly why. It was a normal week, which is to say, full of interactions that kept my gratitude for my life intact. I should stop there: I am grateful, my life is amazing, the end. And yet, what is also normal is the part I leave out of social media – the interactions that challenge me, force me into defining my boundaries, rethinking my positions and arguing my points with people I like in ways I don’t and sometimes with people I love.
I fall short all the fucking time.
(Of course, as soon as I say that, the part of my brain that has some sense points out, “Now, Jennifer, that’s not true! Even in this past week, you accomplished so much!” Shut up, cheery brain – I’m trying to wallow here!)
My writing lacks details. Here: I picked up my son in Arcata and he said to me his friend died. A boy we’ve known since elementary school. A boy he played Little League with, attended surf camp with. Still saw now and again. My heart broke for him, for this boy’s parents. The shock of someone existing and then not hasn’t faded with experience. I wanted the right words, something more than, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” I wanted a space in which to grieve, to allow him to grieve. Instead we continued driving through the darkness, down K Street, onto Samoa Boulevard, toward home.
This need to rally my people, hold them close, continued unmet. Kaylee was up for a rare visit, but I had to work, Bobby had to work, Chelsea had to work, family friends and their three sons filled our living room, social obligations called and so the week went by without that moment happening – the one where we were all together, love and joy triumphing, at least for a moment, over loss and dysfunction. And that is what I am left flattened by: In a week of checked off boxes, the most important thing on the list did not get done.
And now I’m on the road again.