Lately it’s all hot chocolate and long walks. Therapy appointments at 8:30 AM and enthusiastic customers right before close. I smoke cigarettes outside of Andrew’s apartment and hope that someone will come out or go in. Phone left at home and so I start debating throwing rocks at the window.
An exercise in writing a blog post every day turns into a exercise in looking for things to say. And I often find myself scraping what feels like the bottom of the bucket. Sludge. This is sludge.
This weekend I will go to the baby shower of my best friend. Then head south to meet my nephew for the first time. Surrounded by new signs of life even as winter approaches. The days are dark earlier, but I haven’t seemed to notice. We keep our heads down and keep on going.
Photo courtesy of Crew.
I earned my Associate of Arts at Portland Community College in 2011. Transferred to University of California, Berkeley to work toward a degree in Linguistics. Withdrew three months later for a lot of well-intended reasons, but mostly because I fell in love. Moved to Seattle. Fumbled through a few classes here and there, but ultimately abandoned any dreams of getting my Bachelor’s. Of earning a university degree.
Most of that was because I couldn’t see my own future. Couldn’t see a time when I would need or really want anything enough to spend years working for it. Never imagined I’d be around long enough to earn it anyway. Like most things in life, I just couldn’t motivate myself to care. Depression is sneaky like that. So often it comes wrapped up in apathy.
But lately I’ve been thinking about it again. Not because I’m unhappy with where I am in life right now. I love my job, my partner, my apartment. Not because I feel like I need a degree to feel good about who I am. Not even because I want to make my parents proud. Instead of all the usual reasons, it’s because I really want to learn as much as I can about something. Want to stretch and grow. Want to expand. It’s not the destination, but all the little pieces on the way. The only thing that sounds fascinating from the beginning and truly never ends.
As soon as I realized I understood I’d known what my major is supposed to be since my senior year of high school. When Fred Baumgartner took over my sixth period and changed the way I view an entire subject: mathematics.
After that it was Mark Brosz. Then Bryan Johns. It took three teachers for me to finally get that it wasn’t just a fluke. Some amazing luck that I’d had three people make something seem fascinating. That helped, of course, but the real reason was because I love this subject.
When preparing to go back to school the last time, I brushed up on my pre-calculus for my placement test. I spent hours solving equations for a month and never felt bored or frustrated by it. No matter how hard to figure it always had a solution (even if that solution was undefined). I took graph paper and a textbook on my honeymoon to Hawaii and did math on the beach while my then husband read. I’d never been more content. Haven’t really been since.
Yes, I’m still awful at simple arithmetic. Yes, it probably takes me longer than a lot of people to figure things out. But math makes sense. It makes me happy. It makes me want for a future. And I can’t imagine anything more important than that.
Photo courtesy of Carlos Martinez.
Tanya said she saw him stumbling around the city last night. Could have sworn she saw him hanging out with a bunch of unhoused kids downtown last week. I haven’t heard from him since he was in the hospital. Not since Corey and I sat by his bed for days. Got him transferred to inpatient care. Made sure he was set up with resources when he got out. He hasn’t called since then.
I’m learning not to blame myself for it. Not to say I could have done more. Not to make up stories about all the different people I could have been. Ones that would make him want to get back on his feet, make him want to stay clean. Learning to tell myself I did all I could. That we did more than anyone else was willing to.
It’s a lot like forgiveness that way. The ability to realize I can’t blame myself for the things in my life that don’t work out. That it’s not my fault Derek seems to be falling back through the cracks. Not my fault my marriage ended in divorce. Not my fault I’m depressed. None of this is my fault. It’s all about what I can make myself do with it.
It’s a lot like acceptance that way. The ability to realize there is no great flaw in me that makes me incapable of saving these things. The ability to finally look around and see that all the people who really know me still love me completely. The ones who have crawled through the dirt with me. The ones who have watched me fall back down over and over. They never quit. They never give up on me. And those are the ones who matter. The ones who stay.
So I hold up my end of the bargain for them. I keep asking for help when I need it. I keep my appointments with psychiatrists and therapists and medical doctors. I find ways got get involved in my own life again. Ways that make me feel like I have something good to accomplish.
I stay on track. I stay. And I thank those who stay with me. Who help me every day. And to the ones who believed enough in my ability to keep going they were willing and able to help me out monetarily: Amara, Andrew, Julie, Julia, Tara, John, Alexis, Veronica, Feiya, Mason, Bobby, and Pat, I thank you. For showing me I’m a cause worth believing in. I will not disappoint. I will stay.
Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske.