I went to sleep somewhat sad. But I awoke happy, purely animal. When I opened the bedroom windows and looked out onto the cool, calm garden in the first rays of sunlight, I was certain there was nothing to do but live. – Clarice Lispector
I was on the verge of a meltdown this weekend. I mean, a REALLY BAD MOOD.
It was Saturday and I had a bunch of work to do. The copyedits were back from my book, my resume was returned from another interview, my throat was feeling scratchy from the dust in the basement and I felt a new cyst forming on my chin.
On top of it all it’s just hard being home all the time. I know I should be grateful to be safe and healthy, but the gratefulness only goes so far. Lately, there’s just good days and bad days. Days I feel I can’t take it anymore. Days I wonder if this will ever end. And this was just one of those days.
But it was my dad’s birthday and I was supposed to leave the basement, the house, the neighborhood and drive and meet them – them being my parents, my brother, his girlfriend, and my sister- at the shore. It wouldn’t be warm enough to sit on the beach without a sweatshirt and the restaurants, stores and streets would all be closed, but it was, according to my parents, still worth going.
But I didn’t feel like it. In fact, I didn’t feel like being around my family another second. It’s been three months. Can’t I get a weekend away? No, I told myself. You will not give in. You will go to the shore, have a nice time and get through this. But after two hours in the car, Jay trying to be nice in the beginning, making jokes about Mr. Grumpy and period cycles, we’d collapsed into silence, my arms plastered across my chest.
When we pulled up my dad was sitting on the porch. He saw me through the passenger window and my face must have been that obvious, that clear through the glass, that his smile left. My mood, I realized, was that contagious. I hadn’t even gotten out of the car and it was infecting those around me.
Do you ever have moments where you’re just like ‘this is my life.’ I don’t mean in a negative way, I mean in a grown up, ‘I can’t believe this is my life’ kind of way. It happened to me later that afternoon. After arriving I told everyone I needed an hour to ‘decompress’. What I really wanted was to just wait the mood out. See if locking myself away, watching some TV for an hour would soothe it out of me.
I was watching a show on Hulu and there was a scene where the main character confronts her husband about an affair. It was a heavy moment, but I couldn’t help being jealous of her. In her beautiful dress. In her beautiful home. With her glass of wine and beautiful backyard. And then I started thinking, why I am jealous of a woman confronting her husband about an affair?
Because, I realized, she’s living. I’m watching her live. These shows we all watch, they’re nothing but projections of our own lives. The reason we enjoy them is because we relate to them. That’s why we love TV so much. It lets us appreciate life. The losses, the triumphs, the drama. These shows let us ourselves, our lives, from a distance.
There was another moment in the show when the man who cheated on his wife tries to get her to stay with him. He knew she was thinking of leaving him for the man she wished she’d had an affair with. ‘It isn’t love. Whatever you think it is with him,” her husband said, surprising her in the bathroom as she was brushing her teeth, ignoring him. “Love is what we’re doing now. All of this. Love is this.” He went on to put toothpaste on his brush and she proceeded to take her makeup off and suddenly I was crying. Because that is love. That is life. This is our life, right now. I must appreciate it. Revel in it. Realize it. Love it.
I rejoined my family and felt my spirit renewed. This was my life. This was my beautiful life. I was at the beach, cold as it was, empty as it was, but if this was a movie I’d be jealous of the character. At this beach house with her family. Her husband with her. Everyone laughing and enjoying themselves.
If this virus has taught us anything it’s that I’m never going to take the simple for granted again. Or at least, I’m going to try and take it for granted less often. Stop overlooking the simple blessing of getting lunch. The simple joy of grabbing a drink with friends. The love of life and all it always has to give.
On the way back from the shore, my mood was different. The music in the car wasn’t annoying, it was soothing. In fact, certain songs were transporting me. Back to times in New York with Jay. Memories flooded back to me. “Remember that time in the apartment,” I said. “Those were good times.”
“Yea,” he said. “They really were.”
And now I wonder if I appreciated those times adequately. If I understood the moment for what it was. Happiness for what it was. I don’t want to constantly be looking back at my life and seeing memories as good. I want to see the present as good. I want to soak it up like a child. Be able to put a stamp on it in the present. Live in it. Revel in it. Love it because this is my amazing life.
Maybe it’ll help to start seeing my life as a movie. To see the lows as drama and the highs as exciting moments where I can’t help but cheer for the main character. To see my clothes as my wardrobe and the people in my life as diverse side characters who add color and humor and plot twists. I like that idea. Maybe I’ll even give my movie a name. And look at the days of episodes. And maybe when I do this I’ll start to see how truly magical and exciting and enviable my own life is. Maybe I’ll start to see my life as worthy of enjoying – even when things aren’t always going right.