Lately I’ve had several friends ask me what’s new in my life. For a while I was feeling silly to have such unexceptional answers to give. I had no drama, no new muse nor heartache, no weirdness, no new jobs or titillating prospects – nothing much to report. To this query I literally could not come up with an answer, and the thing was people seemed to be genuinely interested which isn’t always true in my life. I feel like the girl with the spotlight trained on her who instead hesitates, stammers, and sits back down, feeling yet unknown and not understood.
My friends and loved ones, my acquaintances, seem to be running in a different race. Fights. Financial duress. Breakup / makeup cycles. Drinking. Divorce. Illness and depression. Engagements broken. Friendships strained. Neighbors vanishing without a trace. More drinking. Jobs taken up and dropped. Painful, repetitive family holiday mini-dramas. They are pleased with my company and my advice but lately I feel their lives are closing in on me in a way that seems stifling and unpleasant and in end result I second-guess the small stabilities I find so comforting day-to-day.
The cumulative effects of my friends’ upsets feel overwhelming, as if I am swamped by sadness and strife although, at the moment, I exist in a bubble of day-to-day sameness. I feel like I can’t filter; is a hot noise in my head when I speak with them and feel both guilty that I am glad to avoid these types of dramas and also somehow worried I won’t hold their interest because of this. I don’t know how to be myself and observe their struggles without seeming above-it-all or gloating; in truth, I am not and I don’t – because I know how quickly my life can take a dive into difficulties.
I seem to spend the days thinking of what I will cook for dinner, of the chores I will do next and the letters I need to write; the hem on my daugther’s skirt to be fixed, the refrigerator to be cleaned, a Thanksgiving dinner to plan, a button to sew. Domestic concerns that are wholly pleasant but leave me feeling removed from thhe more passionate frays in life.
As I type my son wiggles on my lap, his eyes smiling with puffy creases, his neck exposed to my kisses. I tickle and tease him and he responds with seeming nonsense: “I’ll show you an ‘S’!” “You pinchy crab!” and then, “Angry angry duck!” These are not my guesses as to his speech but actual phrases he throws out. I finish typing and move to the kitchen to once again do the dishes, take pies out of the oven to cool, and compose a shopping list.