On the second day of my vacation, I took a cab, a Lyft if you will, to pick up my rental car at the train station. My driver was a delight. I don't know what it is about me, or maybe people just want to talk sometimes, but I keep getting life stories from people I just met, and I'm like, okay life, is this like, the epilogue to the long lesson you've been teaching me for the past few years? Because I still can't figure out how to voice record on my Samsung Galaxy S7, and what good is all this talkin, if I can't record it without people's consent?
Within a minute of closing the door of the car, she began to tell me the events of her morning until this point in time, 7:30 a.m. Her daughter was having trouble in her second marriage. She hated her daughter's first husband, but she actually liked this guy.
That story led us to the topic of dating. She was 70 (yes. seventy), married simply because it was a hassle to get divorced, but considering that perhaps her marriage was giving her an excuse to avoid getting back out there. She was kind of dating a guy that she liked, but he was being weird.
My lovely Lyft driver explained, "I don't understand why men always be acting like I want to tie them down. I'm tellin ya, I just want someone to hang out with, to have dinner with, wine, to go to movies with. I'll pay! I don't need your money. But men always be acting like I need to work for it. Why I gotta work for it? I'm the one with the cookie. You want the cookie don't ya? You work for it."
The same analogy Buffy used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 episode 22 "Chosen" to explain to Angel that she couldn't handle romance or dating the morning of the apocalypse:
Something happened with the Lyft app, and I didn't get to rate or tip her, which crushed me, so I'm going to have to write a letter to their offices. I wonder if they need plants....
My drive was atrocious. I always always always forget that the road through Indiana to Atlanta, Georgia is always heavy traffic and non-stop construction for six hundred something miles. It is a sin. If sin is real...that is what it is.
The air changes in your car (sexy Nissan Sentra), the smell changes, when you come across the mountains in Kentucky. Ever since my father took me to the place I was born, I have felt the Appalachian mountains coursing through my veins, singing to me.
There's a weird thing that happens when all that work you've been doing in therapy starts to pay off, like when you notice the difference for the first time after starting to work out. Like, all the horrible ugly faces you made while you lay there, drenched in your own sweat and tears, headphones in and up, suffering the strain required of a broken heart or determined chest presses without a spotter, and the pain that comes afterwards as you shove Ben and Jerry's in your face crying, "I need this for energy!! Nothing else makes sense!!!!," were totally worth it for what's coming.
When the veil begins to lift, you start to see each step or misstep was just what happened along the way. I feel like I've been kind of whining about this for a while, but it's worth repeating: Nothing happens for a reason save that life exists to continue to exist, so the world keeps turning, and there's not a damn thing you or I can do about it.
But, the people in your life. They are everything. Second only to you. Because you are life, racing forward, surviving. You are brave because it is hard. Like we learned from Buffy in this post from Labor day. The hardest thing in life is to live it. And yeah, I've been living. A LOT. And it's been really hard. But it's also been really rewarding...unless I lose my mind....or maybe still rewarding.
When the fog starts to clear, you begin to see everyone else, lost in their own pain and fear, or inability to explain how they feel, even to themselves sometimes. I know what that's like. I'm not kidding when I say I suffer from depression, and my depression can be black as night. I'm learning not to discount where my scars have come from, the memory of suffering that makes it next to impossible for me to trust anyone but my dog.
We are all lying in wait for the next predator, men and women. We are screaming our stories at each other expecting to hear something different, but it's the same story, over and over again. That's what I mean by equality when I say, with extreme trepidation and equally fierce fearlessness, that I am a feminist. We are all living in the same world, and we're all terrified of each other, but we're all we have. We're the only reason we keep living. Right?
I suppose a nihilist could argue that nothing matters but pleasure and pain, and that's fine. It's lonely, but if it works for the nihilist. The reality is that relationship, sex, love, is a drug, and it's the strongest by nature. It's survival. So the nihilist also finds herself in a cycle of relationship, unable to stand to actually be lonely. That requires the acceptance that one actually experiences connection with others. If you never let yourself face life without that connection, you don't really know what it means to be completely empty, do you?
I do. I know what it's like to stare into the abyss and let it tear your soul apart, like in Doctor Who, when the Master looked into all of time and went insane and turned David Tennant, the tenth Doctor into a tiny Doctor and put him in a cage while he took over the world in order to destroy it because time is nonsense and everything is meaningless, but the Doctor couldn't let him. Everyone has to believe in the Doctor just as hard as he believes in them, which is the point of Doctor Who, that he believes in you.
I used to weep for people and their inability to take the leaps that I've taken in my life. Angry that so many would choose to be safe in a world that can never truly promise anything in regards to safety. Everything you know could fall apart in a matter of moments. I know what that feels like. Trust me. I can tell you about it, if you want.
I'm not angry any more at the people I love. I understand. If you can postpone the shock of reality in your life, I suggest you relish that time. I try to hold onto those moments in my life now with both arms. I've lain in bed at night with my arms wrapped around my shoulders, weeping at the vastness of being alone. Now my arms are full.
I did not know how to go about things because that book hasn't been written yet. I had to do the research first. Now I bask in the glow of the terrifying world we live in, where voices are rising out of the mob, voices that have never been heard before, telling stories of roads that have only recently been traversed.
Those roads are still open. They are waiting to teach us to be better helpers of one another because we are all we have. I want to help the voices. I want to encourage them, to encourage you to love yourself, not only so that you can love others, but also because loving yourself is the greatest challenge you will face, and the rewards are like a wellspring...I imagine. I'm new here myself.
I've been baking cookies in waves for over a year now, since I first hit the bottom of my well, coping in the best possible way. It's cool, though, because I've also been moving my body for the better part of every day in some form or fashion. Treat yourself. Learn to make something you love. Learn to make yourself, and be what you love. Then teach others to do the same. You are a wellspring. You are the answer. You are overflowing.