Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Creeping Discontentment

Discontentment. It starts tiny, like a small mosquito bite. The itch is distracting but you can live with it. Then it swells. So you apply an ointment, but now you can't ignore the uncomfortable feeling. The swelling continues, disrupting your sleep, causing you to toss and turn at night until, restless, you stumble out of bed and down an antihistamine. Finally, blissful sleep arrives. Peace. Serenity.

I've been searching for that peace lately. Something to take the edge off this restless feeling that somehow my life has entered a state of limbo. Social media feeds circulate headlines from my friends: "I'm pregnant!" "We bought a house!" "I got the job!" Headlines in black and white stain the screen and leave me searching for my next big thing. I look up from the screen and wonder, when did I enter a routine? When did I lose that excitement and state of anticipation?

At times, the itch is gone. I look around at my apartment, with such a glow of pride. I've made it a home. Books line the shelves, warm tones wrap around my husband and I in a comforting embrace and I jump at the chance to bake and cook. My job is fun; I work at a tea emporium, introducing customers to the wonder of loose leaf tea, encouraging them to slow down and enjoy the ceremony. I enjoy the Friday night dates, going out or staying in, I enjoy a night that is all our own. I enjoy my life, but then the itch creeps back, leaving me hollow, haunted as if something is missing.

The opening scene of P.S. I Love You epitomizes this haunting feeling. Holly and Gerry are arguing about not being ready to have a baby. They live in a five story, four floor walk up in New York  City and Holly has a job that makes her cranky. She doesn't feel ready for a baby but she would like to have one, someday, but "you've got to have a plan" she explains. "I see people buying bigger apartments and having babies. I get so afraid that our life is never going to start." Her confession of fear unleashes tears that leak onto my cheeks. Then Gerry whispers back, "We are already in our life, baby. It's started. This is it."

I want to believe those words. "This is it." A statement not of resignation but of action and excitement, seizing the moment and living in it, as if today was the last day of my life.  But.... how do you enjoy a third page story when you are surrounded by everyone's  highlights and headlines? How do you ignore the itch and not aggravate the bite by scratching at it? How do you let the grief heal? The grief of it's not my time to have a baby. The grief of, I'm on a journey, or I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. How do you stop and enjoy the NOW?

I don't have a clear cut answer. I know it takes looking, peering through the thick mist of "not now" and "what if" to capture the beauty of "what I have."

What I have, is a husband who loves me and works tirelessly to graduate with a PHD. I have two ornery cats who fill every day with laughter at their antics and sweet displays of affection. I have a job filled with people who are not just co-workers, but are friends; friends I know, that if I allowed myself, would be there if I needed them despite our differences. I have friends who invite me to coffee and lunch dates. And I have family, who support and love me even when I fear I will disappoint them in some way.

Some days that bite flares and that mist is so thick I cannot see past it; it consumes my thoughts and feelings. But just like I know relief comes to the bite, so I also know that sun is beyond the mist. Today that mist may not break, but the sun exists. I hold tightly to the promise and truth that the sun exists. Let it shine and break through this current darkness.

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