For someone who loves nature and being outdoors, who finds it as essential to her wellbeing as air, I don’t come to the river nearly enough. Right now I’m sharing a little stretch of parkland along the Potomac with a few guys fishing. The nearest are speaking Spanish, and it feels a little more like home. I hear cars blowing by, the lapping of water a few feet from my chair, the hum of conversation. I’m typing this post on my cellphone while my laptop leans against my leg; I’d feel like such an ass if I took it out. This is what happens when your “office”, aka, the coffee shop, is still closed indoors and your apartment is about as productive an environment as a crowded bar.
You become the girl with the laptop down by the river.
I’m down here hoping to make sense of my life getting back on track when it seems utterly impossible, especially as life around me tries to inch closer to the before time. Life before the virus. Also now, and rightfully so and a long time overdo, an uprising against racism and abhorrent brutality against black people. Our President is a bigot, million’s have no job, the virus is still a clear and present danger, and this was supposed to be my year?
I’m not asking for a redo, even as my near past was so bright and hopeful and wanted. No, I’m asking for us to get a fair shot at fixing and mending all this before everyone’s lives are completely destroyed. Our personal lives, our work lives, our our personal freedoms, our neighbors freedoms and rights. I ask myself every day if I have any fight left in me. I’ve been fighting for myself for a good 30 years now- fighting abuse, depression, sexism, unavoidable sickness and death, heartbreak, professional woes, and on. I am no one special; you’re probably seeing some of your own demons here.
So how does one keep pushing on in a time when leaning on others isn’t as easy as it once was? Every person is dealing with one or multiple crisis that are exponentially larger than three months ago. I’m experiencing a level of gratitude I’ve never had for seemingly little things- my best friend in Chicago doing a (failed) juice cleanse with me while she begins her last internship post-law school, another friend reaching out no matter how late or busy (or not) their lives are, the friends that still invite you over for dinner (safely and distantly!) For not letting that voice that keeps saying “You’ve still failed to amount to anything” win another morning.
That last one is the hardest. It’s heavy to keep a brave face and positive attitude when I have survived five of the roughest years of my adult life. Forgiving myself for making horrendous personal mistakes, for not pushing harder after seven years of nonstop job searching and coming up empty handed. There’s more, but the gist is, forgiveness. No one forgives themselves enough when life falls apart, when you feel unimportant or forgotten about or unloved. If you can’t forgive yourself, you’ll never move forward.
Pieces, small and large, of life have been chipped away and fallen apart. There’s new and old struggles to contend with, but likely not a lot of old ways to fix them. Find your new way. You are not defective, you just need to do more, try harder, ignore that terrible voice that wakes you up and goes “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?”
I might not find my way forward down by the river, but I will give it a fighting chance.