On Tuesday when I got home home from my packed morning and afternoon I treated myself like a trauma patient. I got into my night gown, took 2 aspirin, ate a piece of vanilla frosted funfetti cake, washed my face and got into bed. And then I slept, hard. When I woke up the boy was home and we walked the dog and I said "good morning" to our neighbor. The sun was setting. He laughed. The neighbor and I used to work together years ago and the other front desk girl and I had a big cowboy crush on him. Now we see each other picking up dog shit in the early hours of the morning before we've really talked to anybody and he is balding and I am hot and sweaty and panting in mismatched, ill fitting jogging paraphernalia and it feels like a sort of unspoken intimate disaster. But sweet and unexpected too, the way it feels to wake up and greet the day just before it leaves.
My husband has been saying lately that he has Adult Onset Agoraphobia, a highly clinical sounding term that he completely made up. Basically, he would be happy as a shut-in if we found reliable steak delivery and had continued unlimited access to Netflix and Amazon Prime. While I don't want to stay home all the time I do want to go out less and feel a little more composed and self-contained when I do. But I'm not sure that's my journey in this lifetime. This morning I had to go to the post office for two distinct purposes and I went over how to maneuver this life or death mission in my head about 89 times. Is this Adult Onset Anxiety I wondered as I returned to my house 3 times to retrieve forgotten items on my way out the door. WHO THINKS THIS MUCH ABOUT A TRIP TO THE POST OFFICE? Maybe my brain is hungry for the adrenaline of chaos and problem solving and so it creates them where they don't actually exist. It's harder to leave the world of Fight or Flight than it is to get out of a gang. Do or die. All or nothing. But I want to move more slowly through this world so if it's following me, joy has a better chance of catching up.
Last week I lost a big huge overstuffed box labeled LOVE. How does something that big go missing? I knew I'd had a lot of it once but I couldn't feel or find or recognize it at all. Because I didn't feel like crying at home I drove to the grocery store to cry in the parking lot. Somehow in that row of abandoned cars next to a strip of woods host to a colony of feral cats, I figured out where it had gone. Or, more accurately, my sponsor made it very clear from her end of the phone. You can't expect other people to give you what you need to get from yourself and God, she said. I was hoping for another answer, like Aisle 7 of the Grocery Store or under the Christmas stuff in the attic or yes! just keep begging and nagging and forcing until they do what you say! But she was right and I breathed it in and when I got home I began to see little bits and pieces of my lost love all around me. It had gotten dumped out! It wasn't neat or tidy or in one place after all! I made a list and took pictures of what it looked like the rest of the week. A letter on beautiful stationery from a new friend. An 18 pack of pens from a student. A plastic egg encrusted Easter wreath made by my mother. My dad dressed like a ghost when we came to visit. My son wiping away my kiss but leaning in for a hug. A ravishing bouquet of pink roses from my husband. I think the collective power of these totems could be powerful enough to come and find me if I lose them again.
PS: My husband discovered something fascinating about the grocery store, too. The guy in front of him was there to buy flowers for his wife so he could get out of the doghouse. Turns out there's a whole check-out aisle dedicated to making amends! The florist, amen.