Let's get the cliché out of the way now: It's been a long year. Like, a really long year. As someone who is very comfortable at home, man was lockdown hard. About midway through it, I found myself restless and irritable and certain that nothing was never going to change. Anxiety attacks were making a more consistent appearance in my days. When I talked about it with my therapist, she asked me what I did throughout a typical year. After thinking about it for a minute, I said that I normally went on several domestic and one or two international vacations a year. In that time, I typically had a lot of revelations about myself and wrote a lot. So, in that light, the anxiety isn't fear so much as is claustrophobia. For the last year and a half, I've been trying to shed my skin but haven't had the room. Now, though, as the world begins to open to vaccinated people, it feels like it might be time to molt.
Had you asked me a month ago, I would have told you that I had been depressed for a few years. Which, of course, was true. With the occasional reprieve offered by a "good" day or week, depression has been a constant companion. But it's only recently, as I come to strange degree of comfort, do I finally recognize that I have been in an exhausted, joyless shell for more than half a decade. And, for the first time since then, I can honestly say that I feel wide awake.
The end of the year is upon us (thank God), and I must admit that it has been the strangest 12 months of my life. I mean, outside of the current political fiasco/hellish nightmare that is our country right now, 2017 was a changeable creature. To go from a pile of dust to a kick-ass, globe trotting, career gal in such a small amount of time is astounding. I'm proud of myself. For the first time in my life I can say, without a doubt, that I am proud of who I am.
I never thought I'd make it to France. Even as the leaving date grew closer, it didn't seem like I was actually going to get on a plane and leave the country. When Dad drove me to the airport, it didn't seem real. When I got my boarding pass, it didn't seem real. When I had to get a pat down because the metal detector thought I was packing some heat, it didn't seem real. When I got on the plane, it didn't seem real. When I landed, it didn't seem real. But when I was waiting in a kilometer long customs line? You bet your ass it was real then.
I've been working hard on the same story for months. Years, really. I know I've mentioned that before, but sometimes it's hard for me to get my head wrapped around. My thesis has consumed every bit of me and there doesn't seem like an end in sight. The goal has been to write out fifty pages every week, which is an ambitious goal. Sure, I write quickly, but that much output is exhausting.
Life has been pretty rough for me as of late. I’ve been through the wringer, and I’m just trying to keep my shit together long enough to grow as a person. Thank God for poetry, even if this poetry isn’t any good.
With so much time on my hands these days, I reflect a lot. A year ago, I met a young girl who was on the verge of tears every time I saw her. She suffered from intense anxiety, but made herself come to the summer camp where I worked every day for two weeks because she loved writing so much. She was, and continues to be, an inspiration.
I've been thinking about the future a lot. Well, that's not really surprising. I think about the future all the time, I always have. When I was a kid I would write everything down in these little notebooks that I called "Future Books."
It's Saturday morning here in the Merlin house. My sisters are watching cartoons, my dog is playing with the family's German shepherd, and I'm drinking a cup of coffee I didn't have to pay for. Living here is easy and familiar.