Chronic discontentment

I had a revelation the other day about myself which I didn't particularily enjoy. I like realizing wonderful things-I'm generous, I'm talented, I'm funny, I'm brave. Those are fun to think about. Contemplating my own brilliance is one of my favorite activities.

This wasn't like that. This made me feel uncomfortable, slightly embarassed, an opposite of that smug "Ah hah" moment, more like "uh oh" maybe________fill in the blank, my professor, my father, my ex-husband, my sponsor etc was right. Because I was having that too familiar feeling, that "I gotta get out of this place' feeling that makes me want to start a new life someplace other then wherever I am. In this case, Chicago. It came over me like the awareness you are sunburned or have the flu or, god help you, food poisoning. And then I felt something else, a sort of awareness that my wanderlust or ambition or openess to new experiences might actually be something less cool, a cut-and-run habit, a get me out of here addiction, a fear of staying and establishing long term connections in case, well, who knows?

Honestly, love makes me skittish. That's why I do so well with cats. I rub Skinny's belly, he stares up at me with adoration. I scratch his ears, our eyes lock and then he suddenly shakes his tail, stretches and elegantly exits before things get too intense. I totally get that. It's part of what attracted me to writing, I think. Nobody makes you feel safe or even particularly welcome. There is no sense of security or permanence. In the school where I taught people received awards for ten, twenty, thirty years of service and I always thought, "Please God, not me," whereas other people would pat my shoulder and whisper that someday I'd be on that stage. I didn't want to look around a room and realize I'd spent my life there. I wanted to be on my way to a new job, a new town, writing an opening line to a new novel. As soon as I feel a group has embraced me, I want out.

But maybe I'm a person with tons of hope. To have a baby is a sign that you trust in the Universe because there was a point in my life where I never wanted to love anyone again. It was too dangerous and too sad and people kept dying. And I married for the third time despite a long line of ex-boyfriends, a shorter line of ex-husbands and a certain amount of battle fatigue from a bunch of terrible dates courtesy of Match.Com. I keep writing books despite the news that no one reads anymore. Someone has to do it. I stay sober.

When I was three, according to a witness, I had a deep crush on a kid who was slightly "slow". He was also slightly sadistic as he kept telling me to stand on the top of this hill, close my eyes and he would kiss me. I would do exactly that and eyes squeezed tight receive a shove that sent me to the bottom. This witness swears that each and every time I laughed, ran back up the hill, closed my eyes get the picture. Part of me wants to take that child and shake her and part of me is totally proud.


  1. Love makes us all skittish (if we are even vaguely conscious).

    The Clown's lament - if the audience laughs, he wants to know why they are laughing at him. If the audience doesn't laugh, he wants to know why they aren't laughing at him.

    You might enjoy Peter Hoeg's "The Quiet Girl". It's a clown's tale, but I think it's for skittish men rather than skittish women.


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