Last Friday night as the sun went down, I raided the candle cupboard (yes, my mother had so many candles that an entire cupboard of the four cupboards available for storage is wholly devoted to Things for Burning) and lined the deck with lit candles. A year ago, we’d had the candles burning for days.
It has been a strange week. Saturday, I took an impromptu road trip to Primm, Nevada (“Stateline”) and for the first time in my life, played the slots. Oh, and roulette. Significant only because I’ve been through Vegas about fifty times and had never played a slot. And never will again, now that milestone has been met. Looking back, I think it might have been therapeutic to get sloshed on vodka and two-step to the cover band in the casino lounge, but I never think of these things until it is too late. I swam in the hotel pool, talked with my aunts, and fought to keep my anxiety at bay. I paced the casino until after midnight, trying not to blow a wad of cash, avoiding the cocktails out of habit until it occurred to me that a beer might help me sleep. Three sips of beer, and my anxiety spiked and I threw the rest away. I had eaten ice cream a few hours before, and it sat sour in my stomach like a rock.
A strange week. Is it strange to say I had fun at Stateline even though I found myself compulsively talking all weekend, culminating in my dredging up a bunch of old bullshit in the car on the ride back, arriving home exhausted and overwrought and twitchy? I did have fun, I like hanging out with my aunts, and I’ve never spent a full day and night in a casino as an adult (we vacationed to Laughlin a bunch when I was a kid, so I’ve spent loads of time in casinos, just never as participant). Had I recognized how uptight and nauseated and freaked I’d been under the surface all week, I might not have gone and I’d have missed the fun.
Josh surprised me on Sunday when I arrived home from Stateline with a rosebush to honor my mother. Such sweetness!! We planted it early on Tuesday morning and it is flourishing. He has also cooked me dinner or taken me out every night this week, gotten me out of the house to get some exercise and/or coffee at least once a day, and has just been so all around glorious that I sort of want to tell everybody how much I love him, so I just did.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – lots of sleeping and feeling like I wanted to cry but couldn’t. At this point I’d figured out that I was not taking this whole anniversary-of-my-mom’s-death thing with my natural grace, and was basically waiting to either collapse and cry and spend a day or two wallowing in my sad movie collection, or get past it and get back to work. Except. Except those two options didn’t really leave a lot of room for the reality of the situation, which was simply that I’ve had a bunch of shit going on in the last few weeks (school, then no school, the minutiae of being an adult like securing health insurance and all that crap) and I’ve been so focused on shipping the project I’m working on that I had been completely not recognizing the stress I was under. I always recognize work stress, and am always broadsided unexpectedly by any other kind of stress. Since my project was going well, I had blithely ignored the other stresses I was under and kept trying to plow ahead. As I’ve learned over and over again, if you do not give yourself a break, you will find that you are forced to when the stress gets overwhelming. So I gave myself a break this week. I carved myself the space I should have carved the week before, and have laid low and quiet and thoughtful. I have gotten too much sleep every night, but then I wake up early and work on the house or on the computer and before I know it twelve hours have passed and I’m exhausted again because I’ve been working all day without realizing, so I fall asleep too early and am up too early and that was how I spent all the days past Tuesday.
Thursday, I began re-painting the nook in the living room from the awful cantaloupe color dubbed “Barbie Flesh” by Jenn, to a plain white. Not because I decided the nook should be white, but because I found the white paint I’d bought for the bathroom last year and realized that ANYTHING would be better than that orange color. So I started painting on Thursday, Josh cheering me on, and sometime on Saturday I finally stopped. It took me about five times longer to do than I expected, and I was positive after the third coat that I was going to run out of paint, but it is finished and I painted three picture frames to match the glossy white of the nook and now they’re hanging in there too. The painting was a great project – long and tedious and kind of back-breaking because my head has been so far up my own ass this week that I started all wrong and didn’t rough in the trim thickly enough, so I spent about eight hours on the step ladder filling in every little edge and corner, letting it dry, then doing it all over again when there was still orange showing through. So, my methods were sketchy and time-consuming, but I’m…if not PROUD of the result, at least relieved to have covered up the old color. Which I also picked, by the way. I chose…poorly.
I was writing in my journal this morning, about how I wanted to write here but it seemed disingenuous to write about home improvement projects and Harry Potter and the surface flotsam of my life this week when I know damned well that what I’ve been doing this week is simply riding the rollercoaster. I am so grateful for my life today, and Josh, and how and where we live, and our friends and family. All week I’ve been feeling that gratitude in soaring highs – then crashing down into a morose lump for really no good reason. I am a frustrating character in my own novel because I refuse to have emotions when it is appropriate to the scene- I’m always practical in the moment and then emotional months down the line, whenever my subconscious decides it is safe.
Well, it is beautiful here. I’m happy with my work and my home and my partner and my life. I would not change a single thing, and if that’s not big fat sign to my subconscious screaming “SAFE”, maybe for the first time in my whole life – well, I don’t know how else to explain it. Today, though, I am going respect it and continue working, dipping into Harry Potter occasionally (of course I’ve already finished it, this is just for snacking, later) and rubbing Fitz’ belly when he’s asleep and drinking lots of tea and taking a nap in my oyster-shell nook and absorbing the stillness. No more rollercoaster, for today at least.