Maybe depression is so alluring because it opens our eyes to truths we don’t want to forget.
Today is a blessing after a long week of teaching, traffic, and exhaustion. It’s quiet, it’s slow, and I stayed in my PJs most of the day. My husband was home with me until he heard about some trouble his grandfather was having with a new washing machine.
But all day I felt dissatisfied, lonely. I kept thinking, I should turn off the TV, I should focus on planning for next week, I wish…. I wished my husband wasn’t playing video games and that we were doing something together.
I felt a somber tone take over my inner dialogue when he told me he was leaving to go help his grandfather. I should of course be proud of him for caring about his family and volunteering to help them – something I do not excel at these days – but smothering anything else I ought to have felt, instead I felt frustrated that he was being taken away from me. Frustrated that I had to share. Again.
There are a lot of things that I hate about living in Baton Rouge. Number one is the people – lack of privacy, excess of traffic. Two is city life – traffic lights and not enough wild nature. Three is living so close to family. We see them so often, and risk running into friends of his family everywhere. And if you know me, you know I don’t just have mommy issues; I’ve got family issues. I’ve got “expected to live up to something” issues. Everything in me longs to get away to some oasis where I can start fresh and find rejuvenating freedom.
And that’s terrible of me, especially to the Southern mentality. But it’s true.
Longing for companionship and privacy at the same time, I ignored my mess spread out on the dining room table and dumped some binders off of my minuscule desk in my office. I worked on research of John Gardiner so I could present him to my senior class when I assign his novel Grendel. But I felt sleepy, only slightly engaged and mostly bored, and increasingly negative.
It’s not like my head is just suddenly returning to sad thoughts. It’s just that I suddenly have the time to think about them. Talking about it is helping, for sure. The thunderstorm is helping too – it just rolled in; for some reason, thunderstorms almost always make me feel good.
But there’s so much about life that just hurts – not only is it hard, it’s also failing to live up to expectations.
Growing up middle class, you hear a lot about following your dreams, and fulfilling yourself, and how great sex and romance are. If having that reality and not having it is black and white, my experience has been decidedly grey. I don’t have or feel all those great promises, and what’s more, life feels empty and hopeless waiting for them. I also feel like I don’t deserve to hope for them; that what you gotta do, you just gotta do; and most certainly that resolving to just take life in stride, one day at a time, will not result in feelings of greatness on the inside.
As I was sitting at my desk, supposedly doing research, a truck pulled into the driveway of the empty house across the street. A man in army uniform got out. He looked around, asked the worker next door to mow his law also, and went inside. Occasionally, you see people at that house – checking on it or something. But this was the first time I’d seen a man in uniform. He spent some time inside, and then came out to pay the workers and drove away.
I was deeply intrigued and imagined a vaguely romantic story swirling around this mystery man. There are half a dozen reasons I can think of why this random, insignificant event was important to me. But for the first time, as I was thinking this over, I began to wonder if I was actually missing college and the way there was always someone to talk to or to talk about or even to avoid. In this little house – too big for one couple with two jobs to keep up with – day after day passes with few surprises, and so very, very fast. Even the occasional argument or special gift does little to break it up.
I’m a firm believer in the sucky-ness of life. And sometimes I forget how much it sucks and how much it could suck in the blink of an eye, especially when I start working at a Catholic school that roots itself in spirituality and I’m surrounded by joyful faith. But when I remember – and I always remember – I feel all the more jaded for believing, for half a second, that life is like a box of chocolates where only the kinds I dare eat are inside. Life is more like a box of chocolates where most of them are the kind I can’t stand to even have in my mouth and any moment I might have to swallow one of them.