Thanksgiving has come and gone. The endless dishes are done, the guests laughed and ate and there was so much food we should almost be ashamed. I screwed up a lot of things but served it with my hopefully unique combination of love and aplomb that convinced everyone it was a good meal. So that’s an accomplishment, I guess.
I think I won’t do it next year. It’s a lot of expense and stress and trouble and as much as I love cooking and serving people in my home, I’m not sure it’s worth it.
This year I had to do all of it while battling a bad cold, a torn ligament in my left ankle, a healing but deep incision on my right thigh, and the ever-present fatigue that clouds my life like the winter clouds which have almost permanently moved into position overhead, only to be gone momentarily over the next four months, and usually when I am stuck at work, inside, with no windows to enjoy the light, if not the warmth, as there is little.
It is getting very hard to sit at a desk every day. Week upon week. Year upon year. The only break being when I am sick, when the kid is sick, or when his school is closed and I cannot afford to send him to daycare for the day. This is my life.
I got out today for a short walk. Trying to rehabilitate the ankle. It will be a long, long time before I can run again. I realize as a woman how much I size up the situations I am in and think about escape routes where I could run away, and how cognizant I am of not being able to actually run at all. As a Mom of a small boy, I also need that skill, as you have to dart quickly to pull the child back from a car who isn’t paying attention. To be aware that I don’t currently have that ability is a little disturbing. But the walk was good. The air crisp, but not too much so, and my body allowed me some amount of stairs and trails and reconnecting with nature, which was desperately needed.
To be in love with the outdoors and living in a place where the outdoors can be very harsh, even kill you during certain months, is a little like being in an abusive relationship. I have to stay, and I want to stay for many reasons. Because I love it here, ultimately. And I love my son and this is where his life is, and where is Dad is. But sometimes, it is very hard to love. Like any relationship, the love is complex. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes you just show up and tolerate it until the love comes back.
The journey into the gray and cold and dark is the start of the latter time for me. Discovering the pure joy of winter running the last couple of years (I know, but it really is amazing) was amazing for me. It taught me how to coexist with the cold and the gray, because I learned I can be warm outside even when it’s cold, and I can be comfortable even when it’s below zero. I can be mobile, not stuck inside. I can get light and air and nature, and it is also beautiful, but different than the other beauty this complicated place of Northeast Ohio shows me the rest of the year. The birds are different. The light is amazing. The naked trees are so mesmerizing I have gotten lost staring at them. Not being able to run as I journey into the gray and cold, it is not good.
So much feels like a battle this time of year. To be loved, to hold on to my job, to pay bills, to exist. I slog through the days and want to live hard the nights, but alternate between hibernation and excess.
Someone told me today that maturity is when you reconcile your dreams with reality. And I realize I did that so long ago, it’s hard to find any dreams left. And the ones I have, what do I do with them? I flail against the rocks again and again. I grow tired and just want to float. I have a dozen essays nobody has published. Three novels. A TV script that still needs work. And more ideas in my head. Maybe Santa will bring me the new version of Final Draft and I can sell a Hallmark movie and pay off my debts, finally.
Yes, this is the start of my seasonal affective disorder. Nothing to see here, move along.
I’ve written so much that has never gone anywhere, it’s just hard to write more sometimes. Personally, professionally; the life of a writer is one of rejection. Just like my former training and career as an actor. I’ve lived a professional life full of “thanks, but no thanks.” It may be why I am so comfortable around those who accept and love me and encourage me to be me. Why I crave it and embrace those moments of connection, of life, love, the real exchange of feeling and thought and emotion. Maybe I need that to balance out all the rejection.
For now, the early-winter cold I’m battling has finally won. I lost my voice, one of my last tools of communication when my fingers don’t work and my brain needs a break. I can’t sing, I can’t talk, I could only whisper to my son this morning, before he went to his Dad’s. Before he would go out to buy him the basketball I refused to buy him, because he already has two of them and doesn’t need a third, just because it’s a different color. He whispered back to me, picking up my tone, my need for quiet, the turning inward.
If nothing else, this is the season of writing for me. So, rejection or not, I will plow on, in, and deeper. We’ll see what this winter shall mine from my depths. I will pour it all out on the screen.