perhaps the luxury of fear
Today is Thanksgiving. Facebook is full of what people are thankful for, in addition to memes that include sarcasm about how Thanksgiving came about. Shrug. Holidays.
Last year I hosted Thanksgiving in NY. It was my 3rd year hosting, I believe. I had a few friends over, friends that had been in attendance for a few years, and new friends. We played games in the living room, I ate ALL the Bourbon Pecan Pie and a few days later I made turkey soup with the turkey carcass, like you do.
Last year I didn’t for one moment, not one second, think I’d be in CA this year for Thanksgiving. Not one moment passed where I thought it would be my last Thanksgiving out in NY with those people. I went about my holidays. I came home to CA for 4 days for Christmas, I came back again in June for a two week vacation, then I moved back in September.
Because everything changed.
Today I’m unsure of how to be thankful. There are, of course, the obvious things: a roof over my head (thanks to my mother), food (thanks to my mother), indoor plumbing…that’s always a good, important one to be thankful. Thankful for having a vehicle to drive around, because you MUST have one here. The public transportation is few and far between, and I can again thank my mother (and sister) for providing such a luxury. I have a very small income right now, working part-time/flexible hours is not consistent but I also am unable to commit to more, for the same reasons I moved back. I’m thankful my family is so close to me, sure. Being able to see them pretty much whenever I want is nice, but it was a trade-out to my life in NY. Not that one could replace the other, but that was the sacrifice.
My friends that are here have all accepted me back with smiles and hugs. The close ones have made efforts to see me because I am not as socially fluttery as I used to be. I’m older, and like my alone time and quiet time. I’m not drinking whiskey (right now…heh), so I’m spending less money if/when I go out (making money, spending less is a good exchange I suppose)
I don’t feel as comfortable here, as I used to. There are many reasons to love my hometown, many reasons I had left it as well. There are simple treasures here, but I don’t feel as comfortable here as I used to. And I often fear because I have changed, that returning would mean losing a chunk of my friends, because I’m not as comfortable here as I used to be. I’m not as loud and crazy at karaoke as I used to be. I don’t book out my time like I used to. This friend for coffee and breakfast, that friend for lunch, this one for dinner or drinks. I stay home, a lot. I don’t speak as much. I observe more. My responses are less expressive, I think. My intentions remain good, my delivery better now but still there is no perfection in my actions, reactions, or abilities to communicate. And soon, in just a couple of months-soon, those will all be put to the test again and I’ll have to learn even MORE. I’ll have to teach more, sleep less, try harder.
And I’m scared.
The holidays should bring such great, loving feelings and for the most part they do for me, they really do. This year because I’m also preparing for the unprepare-able…I fear I’ve already failed. Mild to heavy panic attacks or anxiety attacks just being close to other people is an odd feeling. And it’s not because I don’t like these people anymore, it’s because of how my body is changing, how my emotions are handling it. Some people think it’s hormones. My experience with hormones is different, so this particular experience is a bit less-describable and relatable for me.
I’m thankful my friends and family have welcomed me home with open arms. I’m thankful for the hand-me-downs I’ve been offered as I prepare for what comes next. I’m thankful for the seemingly non-judgemental attitudes and questions I’ve received from everyone. It seems silly to express thanks for things that one would consider unquestionable, but I thought it would be different. I thought I’d receive more questions about my decisions. More harsh stares, or eye rolls. But I was wrong.
Even the gentleman I’m dating right now reacted differently than I thought when I sat down and spoke to him about why I’ve returned to CA. I was prepared, more, to sit down and explain some things to him and have him say “oh…never mind, then.” But instead he embraced me. He cuddles up next to me, calls me every day (since he lives a few hours away, this is what we can do) and is thus far the only person I don’t get panicky over when he places his hand over my stomach. I’m unsure how that magic works out, but he has a very calming effect over me. More calming than my immediate family. I feel safe with him, cared for, and heard. Hugging him feels like home. I’m thankful for him, and the way he accepts me, and the way he makes me feel.
This year is not what I expected or planned. It has surprised me since we hit the half way mark of this year. It has put me in a place and on a path I did not consider for myself. I’m confused, nervous, scared, thankful, appreciative, closed-off, quiet, and and and and and…
Mostly I hope and wish everything will be okay. Not just get-by okay. Not just surviving-life okay. But live-well okay. I hope this time I get it right, not one thing in particular. Many things. I hope I get many things right. And that somehow the panic I experience, the fears, are ultimately luxuries and lessons in becoming a better human, and teaching new humans to be good as well.