It’s high summer, nearly the start of August, and I am unchanged.
The message board at a favorite pub has creative endeavors, artisans advertising their wares, therapeutic services offered from a High Priestess teaching you the true Wiccan way, to Reiki, and other esoteric healing arts, plastered over it.
My mind swirls with contradiction, dismissing, reviling, but also believing. Shame enters. I’m smarter than that, but I’m so desperate for help that anything sounds plausible.
Miracles happen, prayer sometimes works – or maybe it always works and the answer is no – or maybe it never works and yet sometimes seems to.
People describe angelic intervention, things beyond our understanding or perception. I’ve never experienced this, and I’ve asked, begged, screamed to the cosmos for help – for many years.
You can’t convince me that some god wanted my life this way. That this is what I asked for, or what’s necessary. Mental illness just is. It’s not a punishment.
A therapist described medication as a tool to get you where you can deal with your messed-up perception. So far, medication hasn’t worked for me. I’ve tried different modalities, and suicide feels like the only definitive.
But what if I’m left with the hell in my head and this is the only place I have a hope of changing it? Am I eternally screwed? Am I in limbo, or purgatory, now? Am I paying penance while I yet live? Another therapist introduced a Sufi idea that suffering here brings great honor wherever we go from here. I don’t want the honor. I’d rather live without the hell.
Not all days are like this, but enough of them are.
I also get the irony that I am sitting on a beautiful screened porch, looking out over a gentle-sloping lawn, flower-filled fields, and forest area beyond. Puffed clouds float easterly, while the Poplar trees shimmer in the breeze that also bends and waves the hay. Various bird song and cricket chirping fills my ears along with the rising wind. Heaven could hardly improve the scene.
My shorts and shirt cling wherever they touch, sun scorches my back as I rip weeds between the tomatoes. Grass roots deep, but not deeper than my three-pronged cultivator snares them, ripping through the packed earth. Some grass and weeds grow close to the garden plants and removing them is like surgery.
The shadows lengthen across the yard, my work only half done. Water dribbles down my chin, cooling the narrow channel it finds to run down to my damp bra. I’m tempted to dump most of the bottle over my face and neck, but drinking it is more refreshing for now. My knees and back complain after several minutes of stooping, or staying in one position for too long.
A stray mosquito buzzes my ear – it won’t be long before the outlier signals the army for a blood meal on me, and I stride over to the carrot bed, some grass indistinguishable from carrot at the soil. I thin nearly a dozen more carrots than I meant to, deciding to leave the rest for the next day.
The corn and squash languish in the sun, chicken manure and water are needed, but they’ll have to endure until tomorrow.
Dirt-smeared, sweat-stained, but satisfied with a day’s work, I trudge up to the cabin, dumping the last bit of water over my face, enjoying the rivulets that careen down my face and chest, even though I know a cool shower is not far off.
I say a prayer to the Universe that blight doesn’t strike the tomatoes this year, and, come harvest, that we get more crops than the bugs have.
My S. O. & I won a 3-day adventure trip through the AMC – Appalachian Mountain Club – from a sweepstakes form we filled out at the Boston Globe Travel Show this past February.
We drove up early Thursday morning, visiting a dear friend of mine in North Conway, New Hampshire, before heading out to the Highland Center at Crawford Notch, N. H., for the first night of our stay. It was sunny, dry, and in the low 70°F’s. We had supper at the center, met a lovely couple who gave us some suggestions of an easier hike the next morning before we headed up to the Mizpah Spring Hut, where we’d be spending our second night.
A fire alarm went off at 1:30 a.m., and I thought it was some AMC hyper-awareness drill, but it turned out there was an electrical fire that started in the basement. We didn’t learn this until the next day. What we knew is that a fire truck showed up about 15 or 20 minutes into the ‘drill’, and by then I figured out it was a real thing, and my S.O. ran back for something he needed, stupid in hindsight, but it’s not like there was smoke or open flames or anything.
An hour and a half or so, and three firetrucks later, I decided to go back up to our room and grab our backpacks so we could at least try to sleep in our car – having no idea if or when we’d get back, and my S.O. hung back while I surreptitiously made my way up to the third floor, ducking low to keep out of sight – my adrenaline surging – as I imagined the place blowing up before reaching our room. After a minute or so, my guy was there with me, grabbing what we could, freaked out about being discovered, and the trouble we’d be in for being colossally stupid. It would have served us right to be burned up, but thankfully we weren’t. Were there open flames or smoke, I’d have counted my losses, and not risked it, but I figured we weren’t getting back in, and I wanted to go get some sleep.
About 5 minutes after retrieving our packs, we were given the all clear to go back in. I understand the risk I took, and I’m grateful it was as I suspected, and not a crisis situation.
Three hours, and no sleep later, we got breakfast, and hiked a mile and a half up a smaller trail that was twice as steep as any I’ve hiked so far, except Mt. Chochura, which we hiked two years ago. The pay-off was astoundingly worth it:
After that, we hiked down and chilled out before heading out for Mizpah Spring Hut, which we’ve heard referred to as ‘a brief jaunt‘. I guess they’re professional hikers because I was wiped out halfway up. A brief jaunt? Are you kidding me?
I’m holding back the ‘f-bombs’ as one of my aunts reads this and feels it’s unnecessary. I understand that, but still type my satisfying swears, and then backspace…
The temperature had climbed to near 80°F, and the sweat was starting to drip off me. My S.O. fared better, but it wasn’t a skip in the woods for him either.
We had supper at the hut, which was the best part of our being there, outside of meeting some really great people, as well as some not so great ones, and some truly odd folks, but sleep mostly eluded me and my normally easy and deep-sleeping beau, being in a full capacity three triple-bunk room, and not much space to move around in.
Being a hut, there was no shower – even if it were simply cold water – and we forgot to pack in towels, reading that they were provided at the huts during the high season (not true). The only paper product is toilet tissue (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I totally get it, but I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. I am not a super outdoorsy, mountaineering, person, and this didn’t charm me into becoming one.
We were supposed to continue to Mt. Washington, and stay at the Lake of the Clouds Hut, which sounds so fantastical, and dream-like, but it poured into the early hours, and was still lightly raining when we got up to have breakfast at 6:30 this morning. We got out after 8 a.m., and headed for Mt. Pierce, where we decided to take the Crawford Path back down instead of trudging on into the 25 – 30 mph winds, rain, and thunderstorms forecast along the open ridge we’d be hiking. Plus, the hiking boots I got had already given me a few blisters, and I had liners under my ‘smartwool’ hiking socks. The lovely Linda, a former nurse, and her friend, Carla, who had hiked up to stay for the weekend at Mizpah Hut, bandaged and taped my blisters and sore spots for the trek down – I thank their kindness and expertise!
My S. O. and I decided to hike the 0.9 miles to Mt. Pierce from Mizpah to at least make it to one of the 4,000 footers, but the beginning was intimidating. It could nearly be called a ladder trail, if the ladder were unevenly spaced and nearly 3/4 of a mile long.
Our goal was accomplished, but the day being what it was, Mt. Pierce was enshrouded in dense fog, often an ominous deep grayish-green. I was glad to make it up, but gladder to head back down.
I’d like to hike Mt. Washington some day, but it won’t be a carefree romp. I’ll have earned every foot, sweat out every meter.
Bare legs stick to the wooden seat, pulling up as though it were a bandage I’m pulling off as I rise to find my hoodie. It’s not cold, but the clammy air has me chilled. The bloated sky threatens rain, and the dead air hangs inside too – all the open windows and doors allowing in a subtle mist, evening out the airscape – as I wonder if this is what it’s like to be in the horse latitudes.
The napkins in the holder on the table facing me are slumped over as though drunk, and my feet are uncomfortable on the gummed-feeling floor boards.
I slip on my flip-flops, and take off my recently donned sweatshirt as it proves too warm, and sultry is too good a word for the day. Oppressive is too harsh, so dull, or limp, fit better, but still doesn’t capture the quality.
I once stayed on my sister’s boyfriend’s refurbished tugboat, and we moored in the harbor for the night. That was a sultry summer night, wisps of my hair making ringlets from the damp air, our faces shiny and tacky from the humidity as we talked, laughed, ate, and drank until well into the early morning, and I finally drifted off to sleep on the padded bench I was sitting on. Someone had covered me with one of the wool blankets my sister’s boyfriend had stowed several of for such occasions, and I woke up early, scratchy from the blanket, and clammy from the still misty air, but grateful for the covering when I saw that the blanket was wet with beads of dew, as though I had been lightly rained on while sleeping.
The clouds finally burst as I write, and I think at least the garden is grateful for the rain, but the pitter-patter and constant hum makes me sleepy, although I have so much to do.
A third cup of coffee might help me stay upright and on task.
This life was always a hard sell. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, pretty much ever. I got in over my head from day one, and I’ve tried to sort it out ever since.
Does it matter if I’m angry, or sad, or disillusioned? I don’t know why I came with expectations. How did that happen? Was it television? Did I believe the fantasy family shows I saw were real?
I existed in my family – I endured. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. Life was what it was. I didn’t know I had any other choice, and none was offered to me.
When my mother moved us to a commune/cult when I was ten, I thought that was the other choice. I thought my mother finally made the best decision for us – and maybe she did.
Or maybe she was another messed up person in this world who couldn’t do the right thing, and her children suffered for it, and blah, fucking, blah, right? There’s no redemption. There’s no ‘making up for it’. There’s nothing. We’re where we are.
The world says, ‘what are you going to do now?’. The world is only curious if it’s interesting or somehow commendable.
I love prevailing stories. I want people to win, to better their circumstances, to get revenge, and if they can’t get direct revenge, to come out better in the end. I want the assholes to suffer. I want them to hurt. I am so not compassionate toward those undeserving.
I saw the guy who molested his eight year old foster daughter – the girl who moved to his & his wife’s house to flee another predator. I wanted to hurt him. Several years have gone by & there is no difference in how I feel. No softening, no compassion. I want him to die. He is useless, and I have difficulty knowing he yet lives. He manages to fill his days instead of hanging himself, as he should. Maybe he doesn’t have to hang. He could shoot himself, or poison himself, or a myriad of ways to leave this world, and yet, he’s still here. I’m still here too. My molesters were never charged or payed for what they did either.
I’ve concluded that whatever ‘god’ exists does not concern itself with us. There might be some over-arching energy or force, but it cannot care about what happens here and affect it. Or, if it does, and chooses not to, I have no allegiance or fealty to such a being, force, presence.
My life is my own. I don’t commit my life to any person, place, or thing. No nouns own me.
Going away on a whim used to include making sure I had my toothbrush and a change of clothes, and depending on the time of year, my bathing suit and sunblock.
When my child was born, I tried to keep spontaneity alive, and suffered for it. Oh, no – I forgot his red blanket! We have to turn around! He won’t sleep without it, therefore I won’t sleep without it, therefore anyone with me will be miserable – I’ll make sure of that… Suffering in silence just isn’t fun.
Today, my child grown, and no longer needing his red blanket – I think – probably takes off on a lark all the time. May the pox of child-rearing fall on his house!
I now pack a minimum of three days worth of crap. It’s ingrained. I’ve tried to make do, to be free again, but I need the earplugs – and this lamp. And this ashtray… I can’t sleep without them. Sure, we could pick some up at the store, but for me, it would be steal them from the store because our budget is so tight – yeah, yeah, first world problem – there is no room for anything else. The credit cards are maxed, and the goal is to pay down, not add. No, not even $5 which will be closer to $25 by the time the debt is paid down.
A detailed list is a must for me, and the stress surrounding trips takes a lot of fun out of it, for sure. Personal items, check. Three pairs of underwear for two days. Yes. Two pant choices, three shirts, two pairs of shoes, and my sneakers. Should I bring those shoes? Will I want my sundress?
My mind is an unforgiving landscape, a dark back alley where the worst of humanity gives me a wide berth. You crazy, woman!
Snacks! We’re on a budget! Pack sandwich making supplies in smaller containers. Don’t forget the water! Who knows if it’s drinkable where we’re going! Beach stuff, bug spray, sunblock. Holy crap, we almost forgot the tent! I guess we could have slept under the stars for a night. Except, we’ll be in a crowded campground with screaming babies and marauding teens. Wildlife bothers me much less – at least they’re quiet.
My S.O., on the other hand, packed one day’s worth of clothing, and his toothbrush.