I feel like settling down should be more beautiful. I make Amazon wishlists for the perfect cocktail bar (glasses, bitters, ice molds), the perfect hostess kitchen (pretty linen napkins, big pitchers for sangria or flowers, gold silverware); I pin inspiration for the perfect yard (a pergola-covered patio with hops and twinkle lights in the beams, lush landscape and lanterns creating a secret-garden feel, potted plants and grasses and a modern slat fence). I dream about a world in which there’s actually time and money for things to get painted, repaired, and improved, and you don’t have to wait and w-a-i-t.
I feel like I’ve never been young but I’m aging anyway, the window is closing on a period of my life I didn’t fully live–I’m hungry for thrill, adventure, wrong decisions (I did everything “right” and still lost my daughter, who cares? I sometimes think.) In my head I’m a girl with a backpack heading off to hike a 500-mile pilgrimage in France; in the mirror I’m tired and sad. I don’t want to have to worry about having anything in the frig but coconut water, hummus and a jar of almond butter (or whatever I would eat if I didn’t have to plan meals for a farmer and nourish a tiny human.) I want a mattress on the floor with wrinkly linen sheets and Instax pictures on the wall of all the places I’d stretched my bank account and credit limits to see, life one big open end.
I look at myself and try to figure out what’s still missing, what exactly is wrong here? Why do I look old, why do I look tired, why is my face proportioned that way, why did pregnancy do that to me, why when I try to have model-off-duty hair do I not look like a model, why do my legs look giant in that picture? Are my teeth white enough? What if I did fake tanner more, what if I got hair extensions, what if I lost 10 more pounds?
I want more than I have, to perfect what I have. Completion, creativity, inspiration. Pouring out the love and beauty in my heart with each linen napkin placed, each sexy playlist on my patio, each cold cocktail or mug of French press in a guest’s hand–content and owning it, making domesticity mine.
I want the opposite of what I have, to run from what I have, to be free and minimal and abundantly and dizzyingly selfish. Stupid (but still working on my Master’s degree or something in the meantime because I’m also really smart.)
I want to either make myself ridiculously stunning somehow, or just once and for all accept ME without the constant question of worth attached to my flesh. I love and lust after beauty, always have, and I’ve also had the unfortunate experience of some really awkward years that I never recovered from. I admit that I enjoy the chase (I will always adore anything that makes me feel or look better), but it would be nice to really like myself, to “arrive” and have the old questions answered in an objective, once-and-for-all affirmative–or maybe better yet, to let them go.
I’m wild; I’m tired. I’m ravenous to feel safe; I want to be held close and never have to worry ever, ever again. I’m tired of wishing and outright fantasizing but yet it’s my fuel; I create these elaborate and beautiful alternatives to my reality and chase them to the best of my ability because it makes me happy. I want quiet, a place to land, but it’s almost impossible to imagine what contentment would look like in MY actual life (like, maybe I could enjoy the feeling of contentment in a possible scenario where I’m drinking rose snuggled up on a sailboat’s bow with hair flying in the wind?) Really though–can I really accept THIS LIFE. The one here in Nebraska, where I lost my baby. Where I got married really young and where things are really hard, really unfinished, really heavy. The life where I feel the burn of being stuck. The life I’m so hungry in. Can I stop running and running–do I want to? Can I rest against something, Someone? What do I actually do with me?
I’m reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and I wish I didn’t know what she meant when she says she was levitating in sadness. I wish I didn’t relate to how crazy she went after her mom’s death (as in, I completely understand the mad rush to numb, the head-first dive into any pleasure that makes the pain disappear even for a second.) I wish I didn’t share such an affinity for that type of person, the person who writes books and craves experiences and jumps into a moment without looking ahead.
I think what I’m trying to say, after all of THIS, probably the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written: it’s always been hard to be me. Now it’s harder than ever to be me; now I am actually seeing me.
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Lead me to a rest that isn’t boredom, to safety that isn’t stale, to a thrill that isn’t destructive, to a beauty that doesn’t cost so much. Lead me, whoever YOU are. I am tired.