What’s new? I am asked as I heat the pasta for company, as I pass a neighbor on the sidewalk, as I run into a friend in the tampon aisle.
Lately, I’m unsure how to answer. I am content, I am happy, I am good.
We’re good, I say. Nothing new. You?
The company, the neighbor, the friend — there is always something new. Babies are born, jobs are lost, relationships are overbearing, schedules overwhelming, calendars overstuffed.
I can’t relate at the moment. The waters are calm. Noneventful, even. Sure, we’re swimming slowly toward a hopeful adoption match, slowly toward my book release, slowly toward a reading curriculum for Bee. There are conferences to attend, speeches to give, emails to send.
But I feel like we’re treading water. I feel like the boats around us are sailing away into various horizons and we’re here, in this spot, waving white handkerchiefs above our heads as our legs cycle below the surface – slow, steady, rhythmic.
We’re holding our breath.
We’re cheering for you!
We miss you!
We can’t wait to see you!
Three texts I’ve sent this week.
I don’t mind this pace, mostly. I’m bent toward contentment, toward acceptance, and sometimes it’s nice to have an unchanging view.
But this doesn’t feel like contentment.
It feels like, somewhere, in some moment, the shoe will drop.
And it will sink into the deepest of waters.
Is this boredom? Anxiety? Low-grade depression?
I’ve experienced each on different occasions, and so yes, I think it’s a swirly combination of all of it. It’s the slow thaw that comes when winter melts away. It’s hearing a bird chirp and wondering when I’ll chirp, too. It’s realizing that the crawl I’m working toward isn’t aligned with the season, that the snow has disappeared but I still feel a little cold, a little left behind, a little bit stuck in winter.
Is this stress? Did I take on too much? Am I doing a poor job of taking care of myself?
Sure. It’s that, too, perhaps.
A few days ago, I came home from a long morning at the coffee shop to find Ken and his mother flipping eggs and Bee meowing like a kitty and I heard the bacon sizzle and the sun was just a tiny bit out and things looked hazy from a smoking stovetop, hazy from the orange sky, hazy from a long, long week.
What’s new? they asked.
You know, I’m a little bit sad I think, I said. No real reason. Nothing’s wrong. Just sad.
It takes great effort for me not to tell myself a story of why I’m sad. It takes great effort not to pinpoint a reason for the reasonless, to twist a tall tale of some sort of personal injustice, to blame someone else, to blame something else, to figure it out, to push through, to power through, to change up the routine, to shake it up, to sweep it under.
I am content, I am happy, I am good. Really. I am all of those things.
But today, I just feel a little sad.
It’s raining as I write this, and I find a small comfort in that the weather matches my current state of affairs – that the sky is a bit claustrophobic with clouds, dark and moody and sort of ominous.
Bee wishes it was summertime. She wants to swim. She’s ready for frog-catching and lightning bugs, for bike rides, for frozen yogurt.
It’s raining, she says. I feel sad.
It’s OK to feel sad, I say.
I know, she says.
I know, I say.