noun: a state of lowered physiological activity typically characterized by reduced metabolism, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature that occurs in varying degrees, especially in hibernating and estivating animals
I know it’s been a little bit since I’ve shared more stories. I do have more, but before I continue, I have a confession.
The saga from hopeless to hopeful, as I have tried to present it, is in no way over. Five blog entries cannot capture all of the big moments, nor can it capture all of the small ones whose significance could only be fully understated much later. If I’m being honest, I think it’s the “little things” that have meant the most to me. Not all of the hopeful happenings, the little miracles, the gifts from the universe, have been as glaringly obvious as seeing a boyfriend’s ex at the Trevi Fountain. I think, though, that I have put this pressure on myself to write only about those “big” moments. The obvious ones.
But, as my dad used to say, the small things add up and eventually become the most important things. There was my internship, for example, in the summer of 2014, when a woman in my office–a woman whose name was also named Katie, a woman who sat two cubes across from me–was planning her wedding to her boyfriend, Patrick. Patrick, as some of you may recall, is the name of the man I dated for a year and a half, the man I often discuss in these blog posts. He was also the man that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. My lobster, for those of you that enjoy a good Friends reference. Katie and Patrick were planning their wedding two cubicles away from me, and they were also renovating a house in Cute Small Town, the hometown of my Patrick, and the place I had kind of dreamed about one day living with him. Although I spent many moments thinking that the universe was somehow punishing me by shoving some alternate scenario of my life, one where I was able to have the happy ending with Patrick that I wanted from the very beginning, in my face, I also couldn’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t meant to hurt me. After all, it seemed strange. The same names? The same town? It could mean a multitude of things…and I think, in a way, that that’s what I needed.
There was the time, at the end of the summer of 2014, when a childhood friend, Jake, that I had worked with at my first job, unexpectedly declared his feelings for me when we went to the county fair. I was awkward in high school, and I had no confidence. I especially had no confidence while I was at work, wearing an unflattering uniform, covered in custard and the scent of fryer oil. Jake was a jock at a school across town, a football player, a popular student with lots of friends and not lacking female attention. But at the end of the most difficult summer of my life, Jake asked me to the county fair on a whim. He had some liquid courage, and he finally disclosed, after all these years, that he had always liked me. He had always seen me, had always admired my intelligence and my wit, had always believed I was pretty, even when I didn’t. I had spent most of the time I worked with him thinking how cute he was, but also believing someone like me never stood a chance with somebody like him. But on this night, per his insistence, we drove to his high school football field, traipsed to the 50-yard line, and he kissed me. It feels as surreal now as it did then, if for no other reason than because I had had no idea that somebody had felt this way about me from afar, and I had no idea that such a special night awaited me. We had one night, and one night only, but never had I needed it more. The universe, yet again, seemed to know that.
There was the time, too, in the summer of 2015, when I drove down to Small College Town, Wisconsin, where Patrick had attended college, to visit a childhood friend that had been living there. My friend, Dave, and I went to a bar one night–one of several in the town that I know Patrick frequented with his friends throughout his time in college–and it felt strange to be here nearly a year after Patrick and his friends had left it for good, had moved on with their post-graduation lives. Nevertheless, Dave and I went out, and I remember that he and I both had to use the bathroom at the bar. He went into the men’s bathroom, I went to the women’s, and I noticed that there was graffiti all over the bathroom stall. I didn’t think much of it–we were in a college bar, after all–and I returned to the bar to meet up with Dave. As he returned, however, the first thing he said to me was, “I just saw the strangest thing in the bathroom. It says ‘Mooks for life’ all over the wall. What the hell does that even mean?” I stared at him in shock. “Mook” was a silly little nickname that Patrick and his group of friends called each other. It was a nickname that went back to their childhood days, and it was specific to them, and as far as I knew, to them only. It seemed that, just like at the Trevi Fountain, every small impulse mattered here to make Patrick relevant again, if just for a single moment. Again, I felt like maybe, just maybe, the universe was trying to tell me something. What that was, though, was unclear.
There were more, and there will continue to be more. Not all of them relate to Patrick, either–that’s important to note. But I think that so much of who I was was lost because of the dissolution of our relationship. With the end of our relationship came the end of a piece of myself as I had always known it, the end of this set of beliefs about the way things worked that I had always held so dear to me. Perhaps “end” isn’t the right word…I think that “evolution” is better. But the journey toward that mindset was a perilous one.
Though I initially started this blog as a means of recounting that journey, it’s been difficult for me to write for the past couple months. Part of that is, to put it simply, because I’ve been extremely busy. We’re all busy, I know–it’s no excuse. But business breeds fatigue, and fatigue is augmented by anxiety. I’ve had a lot of that, too. In approximately one month, I will be moving to St. Louis to attend law school. I’ve known this for several months now, but the reality that this is actually happening set in only a couple weeks ago.
All these thoughts about the future have prompted intense contemplation of the past–former friends, boyfriends, trips, peers, experiences, hobbies, everything. I’ve kept a journal since I was 12 years old, so I have countless pages to refresh my memory of once was. Of what I once was. Looking backwards, I can see how things fell into place. I can see the ebbs and flows of my life, the evolution of me. I can see the resolutions of my problems, I can see the surprises that awaited me, I can see that I was given reasons–both large and small–to continue defending my faith in the universe, to continue believing that things happen for a reason, to continue wondering about the beautiful mystery of life. Underlying all of my reflections is this unyielding faith in things, this unwavering hope for better days to come. There are times when it is muted and muddied, buried beneath heavy layers of reality, but it is always there, always pushing back, always resisting the weight that sometimes tried to quash it.
There are things in this life that will take us by surprise, that will take our breath away, that will make us question everything we thought we knew, that will remind us that we don’t have all the answers, that will–in ways both big and small–bring us back to life. Keeping a journal is good for reminding us of that.
But it’s gotten harder to write, I think, because I keep writing about the past. The more I reflect upon the small wonders I’ve already experienced–and, perhaps, that I’m only able to fully appreciate because they are in the past, because I can see their context–the more I yearn for more. I’m happy. I really, really am. I’m no longer depressed, I’m so unbelievably grateful for the friends I’ve made, for the job I have, for the city I’ve begun to love, for the future that lies ahead. I’m excited, and I’m hopeful, and I’m happy.
But I’ve also–in the routine of my working life, in the anxiety surrounding the logistics of the coming months, in the memories of things long gone, in the desolation of the early morning hours when I wake up alone in a city of 600,000 people, the same way I’ve woken up for my entire life–begun to feel as if the universe has given me all it has to offer. I’ve begun to feel like the gig is up, like I’ve already learned all I need to know, like I’ve already seen all I need to see. Like I’ve reached my quota, and the wonder that lies ahead will only come from reflecting upon that which came before.
I feel myself waiting for something. Hoping for something, yearning for something that I can’t quite explain, but which I wholeheartedly believe I will know when I find it. I find myself tacitly imploring the universe to give me something unexplainable, something surprising, something to remind me that I still have a job to do in this life. I need to know that I still have things to discover, that I still have some truths left to uncover, that I don’t and never will know it all.
I feel trapped in a state of torpor. I’m still very much alive, and I’m happy, and maybe I’m even whole. But my spirit lies stagnant, silently waiting for the spring, waiting for a rebirth, waiting to be brought back to life.