2003-08-18 - 3:03 p.m.
If you're bored, there's been lots of writing on the blog today, most of it perkier. I'm not very verbal lately; I'm writing more than talking.
Lately I'm only really happy on the bike. For that little bit of time my overactive brain is quiet; it's focused on lactic acid and the next mile. On water bottles and wind in my face. While on the trail I wear sunglasses and a hat. In a sports bra and shorts I'm barely female, breasts crushed in against the elastic, calves rendered stumpy by sturdy Timberlands. I'm anonymous. Other riders barely see me. Instead of people, I see hares and bucks, cranes and finches. I stop to eat and watch ants swarm around a chunk of nectarine, breaking it up with military efficiency to carry to their queen.
I'm always slower on the way back, delayed by headwinds and fatigue. The half-mile markers still come too quickly. There's reluctance to arrive home. When I cross the bridge at the mile 8 marker, only ten minutes away from the condo's back gate, my stomach sinks. Inside the house the fish need to be fed. There are dishes to wash, a kitchen floor to sweep. Both phones ringing. Email to answer. A lonely cat wanting love. And that's the big lack. I don't have much love right now.
Early in their friendship, Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin used the phrase "I have room" to describe how available they wanted to be for each other. "I have room" meant yes, you can call me when you're afraid. I will always talk to you. It meant I love you no matter what; it meant be brave because you are not alone.
I try to always have room for people. The cashier having a bad day in Trader Joe's. The co-worker from North Carolina, missing her family. My closest friend, who's lost the first man she loved. But for the first time in many, many years, I don't have room for anyone else. I keep trying to offer it, only to find that when tested, I can't follow through. It's hard for me to smile at the cashier, much less tease a return grin from him. I can listen to the co-worker, but have no words of patience and empathy. And the friend - she's having to struggle on her own.
Too many times lately I've offered room and been hurt in return. Too many times I've given reassurance and received silence, or lies, or anger. The small defeats - the homeless man who spits at me, the boss who speaks harshly - those I can handle. But the people I've given the most to, for whom I've been the most open, have not been able to let me in. My mom said terrible things to my face and smiled. The man I loved cheated and lied. And it just kept coming.
It is a fundamental part of my personality to want to pull others up. I've spent a long time determining that this isn't co-dependency or whatever current term "Psychology Today" magazine is promoting; this is part of why I'm here. To be useful in some tiny way, like an ant, marching back to report that the unhappy cashier smiled. I miss grinning at other sweating riders on the trail. I want to call my lovelorn friend from the shoreline rest stop and invite her to come next time. But I can't.
It may be this passes quickly. We all have times of sorrow and recovery. Most people are just quieter about it than I am. I'd like to think that I'll move forward soon. But I know myself well. Right now there's no motivation to trust. All the faith I'd built up in my ability to discern the right people to be close to is gone. Everything in me says say that it's going to be a long, long time before there's room beside me on the riverbank.
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