Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It ain't easy being a grownup

Jovie. Being weird. And being Jovie. It's funny, right? We need that right now.
I met up with a friend for breakfast earlier this week. 

She's a journalist, podcaster and new mom among other descriptors. She recently did a video for USA Today about breastfeeding– it was funny, warm and candid. Relatable to new moms and seasoned moms alike. I told her I appreciated how open and down-to-earth she was.

We talked a little about being vulnerable in our work. How it could be painful at time, but ultimately led us to find deeper relationships with readers or viewers. How we felt that it was both gratifying and terrifying.

So here's me today. 

I'm driving around Northern Virginia in a loaner car because my car is in the shop. The check engine light came on the other day– it needs a new valve or another and is long overdue for a tune up, and there's the new timing belt. Thousands of dollars of work. And I'm crying and angry. Because money is always tight. And we should've seen this coming. 

There's always something coming. It's like de ja vu, too. Because I spent a lot of high school driving around these exact same roads. Crying. I mean it was over different crap back then. Some things do change. Thankfully.

I found myself asking the question, "What am I doing back here?"

Like, how is it that life came full circle back to this place? And it's still so hard. Here we are, adulting like adults are supposed to. Changing jobs. Moving. Pursuing new opportunities in the hopes that we can provide a better life for our family. And it's still always so hard. 

I'm driving around and I'm wondering if we made a huge mistake. I'm wondering if we should've stayed in York, where we were comfortable. Where life felt less rushed and more stable. It felt more limited, too. Maybe safer. It was a good life. Smaller maybe– but also more expansive, too somehow.

I'm feeling anxious. And wistful, too. Anxiety is such a pounding feeling isn't it? And wistfulness? Wistfulness is not that way. It's soft and wispy and a little sad. 

How do you go about making the right life for yourself? How does that happen? What are the steps you follow from the first to infinity that result in the good life? The right life? Why is it so goddamn hard? 

It seems unfair, doesn't it, that you are handed a "how to" when you are born? "How to Survive and Thrive in This Life You Were Given." Where's that book? Don't answer that question. It was rhetorical. 

I think it's that you just have to do the living to get through life. There's no guide. You have to be carried and then you crawl and then you walk and then you run and then you drive around aimlessly on the byways of your youth crying to yourself about how hard it all is. 

Snacks knows. It's hard being a dog
with annoying owners forcing you to wear shit.

The best parts happen in the simplest moments. Maybe you're driving with the windows down and a Josh Ritter song comes on and ... joy. Or your kid tells you a legitimately funny joke– not just a kid funny joke. Or you flop on the couch at the end of the day and commiserate with your husband about the struggles of forcing your 7 year old to write a thank you note. The struggles are real, by the way. Just ask our 7 year old, who throws down the pen after each word of said thank you note lamenting a misshapen "B" or a forgotten "A". It is painful. And also kind of hilarious.

At some point I feel ashamed for feeling so frustrated. I feel it's unwarranted. So I'm having car trouble. And it's expensive. But I have a roof over my head. 

There are people tonight who have spent the day huddled in their home on some Caribbean island as the world raged against them. And when it was safe enough to stop huddling, there was no roof over their head. And there are people whose homes are covered in mold because of flooding. And people who have been forced to flee their homes for fear they'd be massacred by their own government or by marauding extremists. Murdered by people who allowed fear to trump love.  

And people I know. My beautiful friend who right now is working to put back the pieces of herself– of her life– so that she can return to her family. My amazing, hard-working, loving siblings whose hearts are too big for this world, who always feel like they're just scraping by. It's just not easy– this life. 

It's all hard. It's all relative. 

So here we are. Here I am. Just muddling on through. 

And I'm lucky. And not just in a compared to all the suffering way. Because there are those that are suffering who feel lucky, too I think. Lucky is knowing that it's a gift to recognize that the best parts of muddling through don't happen in these big, grand moments. It's in watching the freckles wrinkle up on your kid's nose when you ask her if she remembered to feed the T-rex living in your back yard in an attempt to make her forget the long walk to school in the morning. Or watching your 2-month-old niece yawn. Or scratching your dog's stomach. Or chatting with your mom about her new haircut. Lucky to spot the prettiest maple leaf. Lucky to listen to crickets singing at night. Lucky to sleep in on the mornings when there's just the right amount of cool fall air drifting through the open window. 

Deep breath. 

We're all just trying to sort things out, right? I can't be the only one, right? I don't think that's the case, but on day's like today, you start to wonder. You start to really hope that your big mistakes will be your big lessons. Or that they weren't mistakes to begin with. That they were turning points for the next thing. Or that they're all the same thing. It's a both/and sort of situation. Life is like that. All gooey and complicated and exhausted.

Tonight, the next step is sleep. And thank God for that. Tomorrow? 

Tomorrow I'll go to my next subbing gig, pick up my freshly repaired car and figure out the rest as I go.

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