Saturday, June 13, 2015

Black dog dancing

"Maybe my sense of adventure receded from focus, to dwindle and then disappear.
Or maybe it's just getting hard not to notice there's plenty to do around here."

I've been dancing with the black dog again, and I'm trying to figure out why.

Of course I know there doesn't have to be a reason. It just is. Like allergies arthritis or asthma. And that's just the "a"s.

But I've felt so well for so long, and even though I never take my well-being for granted, it's just human nature, or maybe just my nature to wonder "why".

It has been an odd month. After our California trip, Neil immediately left on an overnight business trip. He was back for a few days and then gone again, on a ten day trip. Boston, Durango, Denver.

There was a free weekend in there where I could have joined him on a junket to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a National Park that I'd never heard of before. But his meetings ended late on Friday and commenced early Monday or possibly at a reception on Sunday night. I'd have flown into Durango and then home from Denver, an itinerary that was not especially cheap or convenient, for 340 miles of driving and two days together.

Since we'd only just gotten hom from California and are headed to Keller (Texas) next weekend and North Carolina a couple of weeks after that, plus the Poconos in August, I opted to pass on the Colorado adventure. I had a few regrets when Neil was texting me photos of spectacular views on solo hikes, but let's face it, I don't love traveling.

Still it was a long time to be home alone, and it's hard under that circumstance not to evaluate my life, as in, what if that really was my life? It felt more like I was marking time than actually living a life.

Neil sometimes asks me what I'd be doing if we hadn't met and fallen in love and gotten married and lived happily ever after so far. I tell him I can't answer that. There are too many wild cards. Truth to tell, I'd probably have met and married someone else, but it's impossible to predict the past and how things would have played out.

I am pretty sure I would not still be living in my house in Jersey Village. With 11 cats. But you never know.

Of course, hypothetically, if you subtracted Neil from my life today, then I'd have to do something different with my life. I'd have to get a job or find a volunteer opportunity or go back to school, or do something that would get me out of the house, and I don't mean to the grocery store, the post office, the nail salon and the spa.

Although I interact with people all the time online, I spend a lot of time alone.

It's not that I'm not used to being alone, even as my life is now. Neil works approximately 13 days out of 14 and plays softball two or three times a week. And I honestly don't mind, or let's say I'm used to it. I got him this way and I didn't expect that he would change.

But there's a big difference knowing that someone is coming home at least 4 or 5 nights a week, even if he usually conks out on the couch from exhaustion. OK, I'll be fair, We do things together. We read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy and are halfway through the third Harry Potter book. I said we, but Neil does the reading and I listen (and sometimes I get sleepy too). We go out to eat, just the two of us, with his kids, now and then with other couples.

We're both very self-sufficient and also very content to just be with each other but there is a danger there. We're both introverts and I think we encourage each other in that. But we both need some socialization and getting it primarily from each other quacks a lot like codependent ducks.

I've never had huge circles of friends. I love the idea. I loved the show thirtysomething and the way the seven main characters were always hanging out together, dropping by each other's homes, always being there for each other (except Melissa and Gary who were never on the same page at the same time). But Hope had Ellyn and Nancy, while Michael had Gary and Elliot and even poor Melissa, who basically had a series of loser relationships, also had the safety net of being Michael's cousin.

I know, pretend people, not real life, not life as I know it anyway.

But how much of my aloneness is by choice? A lot I think. People wear me out. It's like this. When the neighborhood moms were getting together for bunco nights, I was never invited and that made me feel a little bad. But if I had been invited I would have said no. Or I would have made myself go when I'd much rather have stayed home. Bottom line, I really didn't want to play bunco, I certainly didn't want to hang around with a bunch of women drinking wine or whatever, but I still felt bad about not being asked.

So while part of me was killing time while Neil was away, part of me was content, but only because I knew he was coming home at the end.

That's not all of it though, the oddness of this slice of time.

I got a treadmill. I love it. And I'm amazed by how much time it saves me, not having to go to the fitness center. I just haven't figured out how to best use the time I'm saving yet.

It's gotten hot. It's June, it's Texas, it will be hot for at least four more months. But more than ever, I want to hide in the house.

I have been waking up early, really early. Usually I'm up between 6 and 7. That is good because I want to get out and make beads before it gets beastly in the garage. If I'm out there at 9 am, I'm done by 11 am, although I tend to push it closer to noon. Today I used 62 mandrels, but only because I've decided to take a day or two off this weekend. It seems to be better for my Facebook sales if I take breaks.

Last weekend I did a bead show, one I've done annually since for 6 or 7 years now. The show was the smallest it's ever been, less than half the size it has typically been. That could have been good for me and the lampworker I shared a booth with, less competition, more business in the short term. But of course, customers who are disappointed by the small size of the show don't come back.

Even with less competition, I didn't do half as well as my best year. I didn't do badly by any measure, but there was something depressing about the whole event. The time dragged and even though Neil was pounding away at work and I'm not sure what else I would have done with the time, I wasn't happy to be there. Interacting with customers was draining for some reason. My boothmate was working it, jumping up when a customer came up to his table, explaining (with visual aids - mandrels and glass rods) how we make our beads. I stayed in my seat and smiled weakly.

I used to love doing shows. I used to look at the time and feel sad when the end of the show hours neared, the way I feel sad when I'm watching a show that I'm really enjoying and seeing that there are only 10 minutes left. Not this time. I was resigned but ready for it to be over. I had looked forward to the show with some optimism about reducing my inventory (therey having a good reason to make more beads). And I did reduce some of it certainly, but at what cost. I'm not sure the game was worth the candle. I'm not sure I'll be doing that show again. I'm not sure I won't.

I'm not sure about a lot of things.

I'm not sure where this obsesssion to make body ornaments (and also to buy body ornaments) stems from.

Since I no longer work a corporate job, I have stopped buying nice clothes. I still buy cute t-shirts but I mostly live in the ones that I can torch in and not care about pinhole burns. I gave up makeup. I never wore much, just some eye shadow, blush and powder. Now I don't even bother with that, not even when I go out with people. I do still wear some jewelry when I go out with people, but that is the only time. I do still love earrings but I take them off soon as I get home, the way I used to take off my pantyhose.

I look at the women who patronize bead shows, I look at the women who buy my beads on Facebook, and I wonder how we all got so hooked on creating gewgaws to decorate ourselves or purvey to others to decorate themselves.

There are exceptions of course, some bead ladies are young and lithe, like me (shut up). But if there is a bead lady stereotype, it would be a woman of a certain age and body type. Bedecked to the hilt of course with adornment.

I love glass, I love beads, I love glass beads. I make them, I buy them, I collect them. I even sometimes wear them. But if I think too hard about it, it hurts my brain.

Will I ever learn not to overthink everything?

This too shall pass. I'll get my land legs again. I'll remember that I don't have to know "why" and that I can live my life a day at a time. Most importantly, I will remember that I don't need to borrow tomorrow's trouble, that I don't need to hypothetically subtract Neil from my life.

And if I have to dance with a few black dogs now and then, I'll try to remember that I like dogs. Of all colors. And dancing.

I used to hope the aliens would please pick me
Now if I saw a spaceship
I would U-turn and floor it
Ta-ta E.T.

Maybe my sense of adventure receded from focus
To dwindle and then disappear
Or maybe it's just getting hard not to notice
There's plenty to do around here

I used to run fast just to dive to the ground
In our Cheyenne and Sugarfoot game
Now it's true I get stiff just from sitting around
But I do like to sit just the same

And I don't mind the old, I don't mind the gray
It's not like I was Miss Clairol anyway
And it's okay with me that I will not be
The first to find out if the swing works okay

'Cause I don't have to remember what laissez faire taught us
I don't even own any good shoes
And if you're having apples with mayonnaise and walnuts
I can just say, no thank you.

(Cheryl Wheeler)

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