On a dark humid summer night ten years ago, I strapped a colicky baby in her car seat and went for a drive. The baby would quiet down in the car as long as it was moving and one nice benefit to living in the country is that you can move for a long time without stopping for anything.
Ten minutes of sweet silence passed until I made a turn and discovered, too late and to my horror, that the road was completely covered in tiny frogs. They were crossing the road from (I guess) one marshy area to another. I was going 40 mph at least and even if I’d slammed on the breaks, the damage would have been done. Hundreds of frogs died that night under the wheels of my car in sacrifice to my desperate need to make this baby shut the hell up and give me a break. Because I knew, as soon as the drive was over and I pulled up the driveway, she’d start screaming again.
So I kept going, kept squishing, kept cringing and apologizing (in my head). Death is everywhere. All the time.
This year has felt like a series of deaths, of sacrificing frogs for a greater good, a better life, a happier me. I can’t stop the train wreck from happening – one financial disaster after another, one more discovery of just how much shit I’d allowed myself to put up with for years (years!) – but can only hope that the good outweighs the bad. I don’t really believe that “things happen for a reason” but I do think that how you handle those things determines the future, good or bad. I’ve handled a lot of bad this year and I’ve received quite a bit of good. Maybe it balances out. Maybe it’s not supposed to. I’m not the Answer Person. I’m still the Questioner.
In two months, I will be officially free. I’m not really sure what I want after that other than just peace of mind. I’m not sure I’m dateable anymore. I’m not sure there’s anyone out there I’d want to waste my time with. I’m a little (no, a lot) afraid to trust anyone. Everyone my age has so much baggage. I don’t know how much of someone else’s I want to deal with. I cannot imagine who I’d meet that I’d want to see more than once. All those frogs and no princes.
I’ve spent this year learning to say no, learning when to recognize when I’m doing too much (an old bad habit that grew out of a narcissistic upbringing and a co-dependent marriage), trying too hard, caring too much and wasting my time on things I shouldn’t. I’m figuring out where I fit in, what I want, where I want to go. I spent a glorious weekend in the mountains with four fabulous women and we wrote and wrote and shared and laughed and it was just so comfortable and perfect I was sad to leave. But the weekend ushered in two weeks of…..what was it? Contentment. Something I didn’t recognize at first. I’m not sure I’d ever felt it before. Each day, despite the frustrations and set backs and the ever present fear of financial ruin, each day gets a little better.
I’m fat and poor and I drink too much but I’ve also accomplished a lot, especially in my house. My bedroom is painted and the décor is 3/4 finished. My closet is organized, mostly. I’m beginning to see a time when I can spend my weekends NOT painting or throwing things out or moving stuff around. Of doing, doing, doing. I’ve got a computer again and I need to really start using it. Characters are speaking and becoming insistent that I write this shit down. Okay! Uncle! I will. I promise. I will.
These days when I drive around at night down dark country roads, the children are merry and we fight over radio stations and the music covers up the sound of wildlife being squished (I also don’t travel down that road at night anymore). I’m sure there will be plenty more frogs to run over and plenty more annoyances and frustrations and nights spent panicking about money and getting things done but it’s better. It’s a lot better.