Hastily-secured last minute, Xanax finally kicked in on my flight to California early morning Wednesday and I was able to not only look out the window for the first time without panic, but take a couple of pictures. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the flight, but, once I had quit crying and the pills kicked in, I was able to doze for a long time, stretched out over the empty seat next to me that the flight attendants had helpfully moved me to when I alerted them to the fact that I am a “fearful flyer” when I checked in, tears silently rolling down my cheeks. Seeing sunrise from above the clouds was surreal and otherworldly for me. I can never be comfortable thinking it could be my fate to crash into the snow-covered mountains below, and let go and let it happen if it’s my time, as there is a tiny person out there who still needs his Mom for many more years. But at least I was not in gut-wrenching panic the whole flight, so it was a big improvement.
California was a whirlwind of many emotions. The trip, even Los Angeles itself, filled me with physical, culinary and emotional challenges – highs and lows and happily stuffed and feet sore from hiking or covered in cool sand on a chilly beach day (for them, not me). You can be on a mountain top in two hours, eating fish tacos and drinking cold beer the next hour, next to the ocean, and then in the car for an hour and a half trying to go somewhere. It’s like a big push-me/pull-you sign going “LIVE! DON’T LIVE!” or “GO! STOP!” all the time. All that ping pong can wear a person out.
As when I lived there, each house I drove by up close, I looked at in intricate detail wondering, what did they do that made them so special that they get to live in a house that expensive and amazing? Did they invent intermittent wipers or the Tivo or maybe they invented Redbox or came up with the concept for the TV show Lost or something, I don’t know. It all seems so skewed and unfair. At least where I live, the income disparity is not so in your face around every corner. Houses seem possible and achievable – hell, most people I know live in one, even if I never will.
I wasn’t quite there long enough to fully adjust to the time change. And yet being thrust back into my life here in Cleveland has left me feeling weirdly mentally disconnected and like I am watching myself from the other side of the room, which is surely a form of jet lag.
There is a lot going on. I had a really big meeting of sorts today that could change my life. So much is changing, and yet I sit by the side and watch myself and wonder, is anything really changing? It’s hard to tell, but it feels different. There are many more changes on the horizon, that much is certain and can be counted upon, if nothing else.
I also quite unexpectedly became the recipient of a gesture of kindness from some virtual strangers through a blog I follow. I won’t say a lot more about it because it’s very humbling, but in essence my son is going to get those few books he wanted to read and KEEP, please, Mom, instead of always having to take them back to the library, because some strangers bought them from my wish list. It’s shocking when something like this happens, to realize there are people out there who are truly kind and generous and would do something selflessly and anonymously like this for someone they have never met and never will know at all. This is one of the ways the internet can be a truly great thing, not because I “got” something, but because I was able to see humanity playing out for myself and others, and it gives me hope for my life and my son’s life in a country I sometimes find myself losing hope about.
Hope. Change. I sound like an old political campaign, speaking of losing hope. But I have them both, and they are both happening in my life. I’m just trying to hang on, rise above the clouds, and wait for the sun to come back. The groundhog says it will, sooner rather than later. I’m trying to be ready. It’s so weird from the other side.