“Hey there! Long time no see! What have you been up to lately?”
Sentences stick to the roof of my mouth like a spoonful of peanut butter while my mind races. What do I have to say that is interesting? Informative? Exciting? Different than yesterday? Than last week or last month?
My friend doesn’t want a book report for each of the fourteen books I’ve inhaled since January 1st. My friend wouldn’t be interested in what I had for dinner last night, the “no news” situation of my job hunt, or a detailed synopsis of an episode of a TV show that I found funny. My friend need not be present for a rambling sililoquy of my inner restlessness and dissatisfaction.
Yet, I fear my friend does not want to hear the standard, “Oh, nothing new! How about you?” An update is expected, especially since I am without a veritable grab-bag of conversation starters and newsy tidbits.
I smile, stalling for time, fishing restlessly around in the still pond of my recent memories for something (anything!) that will suffice to answer the question. Some scrap of news or activity that will prove to my friend (and myself) that I’m worth talking to, that we should continue to keep in touch so we don’t lose our place in each other’s lives, even though I fear that I’m stuck between chapters.
“Um,” I start, and then give in to the inevitable before too much time passes and the moment becomes awkward. “Not much new and exciting, really. Work, working out, keeping up with the house, reading.” Even I think I sound pathetic, so I work in a caveat: “I guess I just tend to hibernate in the winter. What’s new with you?”
I try to keep an interested and happy expression on my face, while the inner me hangs her head in shame. What happened to me? When did I become so dull, so stuck in a routine of responsibilities and financial constraints and flagging energy that I failed to wake up excited about a single day over the past month?
The other day I was reading a book, Skippy Dies, and the character Halley was stuck in a similar rut as I. Author Paul Murray wrote
Every day over there seems richer with ideas, fun, adventure than the one before; every day Halley seems to have less to tell in response. Pretending to herself that she doesn’t notice costs her no little effort, and often she’ll find herself spinning off mid-conversation into private fugues of jealousy…
I can relate to Halley: it’s so hard to pretend that I don’t notice how uneventful my life has become; how little I have to add to the conversation. I’ve tried to narrow it down to a singular cause, but the roots of this stillness are as deep as an old oak tree, branching out to all of the points on a compass and reaching toward the Earth’s core.
I have a possible solution, but it will be less like becoming a swinger of birches and more like playing lumberjack to the forest of family, friends and financial security currently surrounding me.
Colorado: 2,000 miles away from the place I call home. My emotional side has already moved and is soaking up the clean air and mountain views, but my practical side is quietly freaking out, worrying about the job market there and the housing market here and the costs associated with a big move.
I’ve always been a bit of a worrywart, which has served me well in the past but I can see how it is now hampering my ability to move forward. I’ve been disengaging from my current life in favor of a new, anticipated one, but I am unable to completely let go. Then again, am I being too hard on myself? Perhaps a bit of reservation is fair in this economy; there’s no reason to set myself up for failure (financial or career-wise) by hurrying. I have no set time table. The only expectations I’m faltering under are my own.
I turn back to the conversation with my friend, and we make plans to get together and do something fun. Something interesting. Something different than what we did last week.