Inner peace is easy to find…when everything is going smoothly. Right? You can sit on your meditation cushion or go through your poses on the yoga mat, clearing your mind and focusing on your breath, but then life hits you right between the eyes. It all goes out the window, and suddenly you’re gasping for air.
If you can hang onto the peace that you find in your meditation, yoga, or prayer, it will help you navigate those troubled times, but I’m not there yet. Most people lose their inner peace when they get rattled, and I’m no exception. I have been an anxious mess for the last week or so as I try to find a place to live in North Carolina. My family and my Facebook friends have been along with me on this wild ride. I am extremely nervous about buying a home without a contingency to sell mine, but the way the market is right now, I really don’t think mine will sit long. Still. This is something I’ve never done. Generally when I sell a property, I go into a rental for a short while, which gives me time to look. But even rentals don’t stay on the market for more than a few days now, and they are ridiculously overpriced.
I’m fortunate that I make enough money and have enough in my IRA to borrow the down payment from myself and do just fine in the end. I mean, it is going to be years before I can retire, but I think I’ll be okay. I hope I’ll be okay, because in the end, it’s all up to me. If I screw it up, it’s on me. If I’m wildly successful, it’s on me. Never have I wanted more to be able to turn to a partner in the night, put my head on their shoulder and feel comforted. That’s not a reason to be in a relationship, but it’s a huge bonus if you’re in one. You feel like you have someone in the thick of life with you, someone who has your back. You feel a body next to you in the night, someone to whisper your thoughts to, instead of staring at the ceiling alone in the darkness.
An elephant is sitting on my chest. My psoriasis is in full bloom on my hands and arms. I have all the same weekend chores I usually have, but now I also have to be cleaning out junk drawers, gathering things to donate, and dumping things that no one would want. My dog wants a walk. I want to shut my eyes. But I have miles to go before I sleep, as Robert Frost wrote. I don’t think he was selling a house when he wrote it, but he was going through something. The poets put into beautiful words all those universal feelings that wreck us or thrill us.
Rather than being depressed, as one of my doctors hypothesized, I’m anxious. Every time I touch something to get rid of it or pack it, I get sucked into memories. Love letters from my ex-husband (keep, if only to remind me that someone loved me once). Toys from my late daughter (keep, at least one). Pictures, papers, sheet music. Oy vey.
My diaries from high school! I read a few entries last night and thought, “Damn. Look at how I was fretting about every bite I put in my mouth. Look at how full of potential I was.” I can see my fears written onto every page. I read that I had been invited to sing at a friend’s wedding. Don’t remember that, but oh yes, I used to have a beautiful voice. I was never a “belter” but I had a pure and clear soprano voice. Mrs. Krenek (my science teacher, I think) said to me, because I wrote it down on page 3, “You’re older than your years. You’ll go farther in life than the rest of these clowns.” Was she right? I guess so. But I’ve sold myself short…a lot. Had I not been so afraid of failure, what more could I have done?
See what I mean? Sucked in. I was ready to just throw these diaries in the fire without even looking at them, but I see now that I left landmarks for my future self. I left absolute gems. Who knows why we keep diaries or blogs. For me, it’s an ever-present urge, an itch I must scratch. I wish I had kept diaries throughout my life, but there were times in which I was so frustrated, so angry, that I couldn’t even sit down to write. And then the arthritis started to hit my hands and I stopped writing in blank books. Eventually I found blogging, but my former blog, the one that blew up and ceased when I was with that awful woman in the mountains who tried to control every bloody moment of my life after I had just lost my daughter, is in an archive file on my old MacBook — which I just discovered has a swollen battery! I need to get it to the shop and have them take out the drive and transfer everything to an external drive for me. One more thing I have to schedule into my already crazy schedule.
My inner peace is lying on the side of the road, waiting to be resuscitated.
Focus on your breath. Great. Now I’m hyperventilating.
This particular diary has a Norman Rockwell painting on the cover. It depicts a little tomboy with pigtails, sitting in a doctor’s office with a black eye, grinning like anything. My friend Ruth gave it to me. It’s a perfect representation of my life. Beaten up but still smiling. You should see the other guy.
The other diary I came across last evening was given to me by my friend Lisa, whom I lost touch with back in the 90s. We grew apart. But we had writing in common. She was writing for a local magazine in Dallas last time I heard, but that was years ago. We diverged on everything else.
To the present, I have offers on two houses. The first one is closer to Charlotte, in Gastonia, and is less than 1000 sq. ft. It has a small yard and a garage. I figured it would be perfect for me. Last night when I heard from my Realtor, there were seven offers (including mine) on the house. It would have been good for me, as it is close to major medical centers and LGBTQ meetup options. I have no hope that I’ll be the offer they select. So I decided to put an offer on the one I saw yesterday afternoon (these are virtual tours via FaceTime – not the way I usually look for a home). It is a little larger by about 250 sq. ft. and has a half-acre lot, fenced in the back. It’s closer to Sean, which means it’s farther from major medical centers. It’s kind of plain Jane and needs some love in the front yard to give it some curb appeal. I wish my mother were here to coach me through growing roses. I do not have her knack or her green thumb. The woman could grow anything. My head is usually in my work or my imagination.
Neither of them will have the cool street name I’m on now – Inspiration Avenue. But what is in a name, Mr. Shakespeare? A rose on any other lawn would smell as sweet. Neither of them is the pretty yellow of the house I’m in now. I just have to keep reminding myself of why I’m doing this and not get lost in the love of things.
If the offer on the bigger house is accepted, I’ll pull the offer on the first one, and vice versa.
I’m stalling. I don’t feel like going through my things, but I must. So I’ll leave you with a little music by The Who. It’s my current theme song. I won’t get to get what I’m after ’til the day I die.
Namaste (and focus on your breath), Jude