The news comes, as it always does, from another friend—a friend I love, whom I want to be happy—and these days, I’m glad when the news comes electronically. When texted, my micro expressions can’t show my bewilderment or betray the true way I really do feel: that I am happy and pleased for her. When emailed, I can take a minute to let the tears come and go again, without making her feel bad that she told me or worse, bad that she was excited.

Doubly painful is the realization that had things been different, we would have been able to share this time, our sons or daughters born weeks or day apart.

She doesn’t know, anyway, about our loss, and now is not the time to mention it.

Looking Forward to Being Low

These last four years have been spent in towers and dungeons. Home (and work, lately) is on the 15th floor. Less recently (and some days, these days) work has been in windowless rooms, or in still more mid- and high-rises. I look down at trees. I am a balloon. Removed. Remote. Barely tethered. I am a storm cloud consorting with other storm clouds.

There’s a specific kind of anxiety that comes on when you realize you have to climb down one tower only to climb another to get something done. It stops me short and I feel like I can’t make myself move. Like agoraphobia but not quite. I took for granted all the times I walked along the floors of that old house, out to the porch, to the car…never more than 10 feet off the ground.

Soon, I will be more often under the trees than looking down at them.

And I won’t be able to relate to storm clouds.

And then it was over

These things just happen: that’s what they say.

The sad, grimly down-turned mouths and soft eyes. I’m so very sorry, they say. These things just happen. Eyes that last week twinkled merrily now are just wells of pity and regret that there’s nothing to be done. And you lie there, on the table, feeling powerless. Your partner clutches your hand, feeling powerless. It feels like you’re moving through a tunnel and tears are blinders and you’re grabbing at the darkness for something…statistics? Humor? The light switch? And what did I do in the last week that caused this? Did I drink too much coffee? Did I exercise too much? Not enough? Was it the allergy attack on Tuesday?

No, no, a thousand times no. These things just happen.

I didn’t want this to be the way things went. I had already reoriented my perspective on my life, for the last three months, really, toward being a good vessel; a vessel that a new creature, looking for a good place to grow, couldn’t possibly want to leave. I was used to the idea by now; I was cautiously excited. But now the pixel that was flickering off and on, boldly on that tiny screen angled too far away from me didn’t flicker at all. Nothing moved. Not even me.

These things just happen.

Because my body thought things were fine, it had to be notified that things were not. And they gave me pills and I took them as instructed and I stretched out on the bed and waited, feeling like a body laid out at a wake. And I thought it wasn’t working. I thought, I’m going to have to do this again in 10 hours. And then suddenly, as if I were struck by lightning, everything was agony and I was wailing and crying and writhing and trying to escape from myself but it hurt to move or breathe or think and where would I go anyway? It’s not me that gets to leave. And the blessed man at my side, watching me and holding me and praying that the pain meds will kick in soon and the spasms will pass quickly, powerless to do anything except remind me to breathe.

When I woke up Monday morning, I was going to be a mother. And now, on Tuesday, I am not.

These things just happen.

She never gives in, she just changes her mind

Some Sunday mornings, when I was a girl, I think I probably looked forward to church. I had friends there; there were parts I liked. As I got older, it became a fight, an obligation. There was a Sunday in my 17th year that I didn’t want to go. Told my mother, “no thanks, I’m going back to sleep” (from under my covers). And she physically dragged me from the bed, then she frothed angrily at me that I needed to get moving because as long as I was living under her roof I was going. Period.

Motivation comes from all sorts of places. I made a vow to get moving as soon as I could.

These days, I have a different relationship with faith. It is bigger than the Sunday mornings where I kept it in my childhood. The mysteries of the universe bleed into so many parts of my life: the uncertainties I feel, or the small, disconnected, meaninglessnesses. And, by turns, the profound connectedness and self-worth: the important part of someone else’s life that I can be, if for only a moment, that makes things so magical.

Today the Wolf and I started a journey: we’re trying to start a family, only the difference is we’re using some of the science at man and womankind’s disposal to try to make it happen. Conventional means haven’t gone so well (however fun they are) and I finally gave up whatever prideful attachment I had to being able to “do it on my own” and decided I didn’t really know who I was doing that for: it certainly wasn’t helping me, month after month for almost a year and a half.

I am tempted to pray but all those years taught me that you don’t pray for something you want to happen. You pray for the strength to deal with the outcome, regardless. I feel myself struggling with this. I don’t want to strength to deal with the outcome I don’t want; I never do. I’m always on the balls of my feet, ready to shift position.

You tell me I can’t have something, I say I never wanted it anyway.

But I do want this and if it can’t happen for us I will mourn my wanting of it and it not coming to be. It’s a crawling feeling I want to shrink from and I hope I don’t have to bear it.

Jobless? Work Less?

A lost art, it is, to send letters and cards…and the sad part is that I always want to be the kind of person who sends them (remembers birthdays, is gracious for gifts and time spent on me) but I only ever seem to be that woman with any consistency when I am out of work. I think it’s the pace of my life that leaves me with the time to do it: out of work I keep myself busy on things that need doing all the time (laundry, errands, exercise) so that I don’t spend money on things that I don’t need (Starbucks, trips to the Container Store, idle clicking on jcrew.com).

Truth is, though: I’m really and truly grateful lately. I’m grateful for this time to myself and to slow down, ponder what I want to do next. The leanness of our bank account is a little unsettling, but that isn’t forever: we can make do; certainly so many people in the world get by with much less than we have. But this time…this out-of-work time, this was my choice. I said, “This isn’t a good fit anymore: I’m not what you need.” And I left: in many ways, I was the bigger person and my departure was probably looked at as a blessing for more than a few reasons.

The last time I was out of work, it wasn’t by choice: I was downsized; ejected. It was sad and semi-abrupt and I didn’t know how to feel about it. Some people didn’t get cut: was I not worth saving? I started to doubt myself. A lot. In the absence of a deeper reason “why,” I filled in the blanks. I was washed up. I was too big for my britches. I was any number of metaphors for have-been.

You’re not really any good at what you do, said the voice in my head. They have sent you to the farm: be grateful your death sentence came with a severance package. I believed the voice for a long time. I ran from my profession: did a complete 180 and ran away, convinced that this event was the death knell for a passion I had held for what seemed like my whole life. Making things on the Internet wasn’t what I was meant for, I decided.

So I went back to school for a bit: I chased some things, I learned even more things, then I got a new job, back in the same field I’d been downsized from, I wore myself out doing both school and job for a while, then I abandoned the school tangent and went full-bore on the job again. And the job was really great and the people were really great and I was in my element. But small companies are like small worlds as they form: volcanic activity, wild temperature shifts, and mass extinctions. For months, it wore on me; things were just not like they once were and I felt like I was part of the problem. I am opinionated, but my pushing and questioning wasn’t welcome anymore like it had once been. The leaders went into seclusion to try to make a plan and, though I had very recently been counted among them, I felt shut out. Worse still, when I tried to help, it was made clear that the ways I was trying to help were somehow objectively wrong. It was obvious by the second month of no new business that things were going sour and that I had a price on my head.

How much could we save if we made a case to eject her?

And so I left. Rather than let them make a case against me and possibly damage my reputation, I left. Like a grown up: I walked. There was nothing I could change about myself to act differently or think differently: I was working as hard as I could to try to be what they needed and it was being rejected, sometimes in demoralizing ways. And there was nothing they could change, either: money was growing tighter and tighter, their stress-coping mechanisms were not healthy, much less aligned with mine, and at the end of the day, it is their company; they aren’t going anywhere: they sink with the ship. I have the luxury of a jump.

It’s a funny feeling, leaving a job with no real plan. I’ve been trying to ponder what it is I want to do. I have learned a lot about myself in the last two years and I realize now that this profession is what I am meant to do for the moment: I love it. I am good at it. I just have to be (more) ready next time…keep my options open, maintain an attractive portfolio, blog about work-type or personality-oriented stuff, consumable by a future employer. Things keep presenting themselves more and more…I am confident that it was the right move (not that I never had “buyer’s remorse”: I did, a bit) but it’s invigorating to leave when things are wrong. Life is too short to fret over things such as this. I have the support of a wonderful partner, a family who loves me, and talent for days.

Everything goes just like it should, doesn’t it? We can perceive the alternate reality that could have been, but we only have today to act in…maybe just the next five minutes.

So I am grateful, and I send letters and cards, and I hope they make someone else grateful, too.

39,000 feet: flyover country

It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten how to really trigger the exposition that used to come so easily: back when they weren’t called “blogs” and I wasn’t a “blogger.” What was I then? What should we call me? A friend asked me the other day why I stopped “blogging” and I didn’t have a good answer: it was over 10 years ago. Who can recall the motivations of a self long-gone?

I think it was because I felt more exposed than I had at the beginning (which was the late 90s for those of you keeping score at home). The landscape was changing, more people online; my mom was figuring out how to use the thing, for God’s sake…the space wasn’t “safe” anymore. Like a true (closet) introvert, I didn’t want that exposure. I liked that this was seen by the people who valued it, and I liked that my messages were obtuse, veiled for my chosen few…and that was breaking up and dissolving, never to really be recaptured.

And then things changed further, still: this site and all its old content were baggage: they reflected times in my life that were no more and that I didn’t think about much, let alone need for reference. Idle frustrations, idly written…or so I thought, I guess. What’s more, I had a man in my life: The Wolf; The One, I knew, and I didn’t like the monuments to other loves and other feelings lying around my feet. No one leaves their shoeboxes of old photos and love letters lying around after the love is gone. And I was happy: I didn’t run to this as my outlet anymore: I had the Wolf for that. I felt I had well and truly moved on in my reasonings for sending out these paper boats into dark water.

Lately, though I am still very happy, I have been wrestling with depression. I have a good therapist, I am in a loving relationship with the Wolf and he understands my depressive nature and, because we talk about it, he is learning to help me through it as well. I found myself wondering if shuttering the old site was never about the baggage or about the desire to subsume the past musings with future planning…maybe I was only ever about mumbling to myself in the dark about the things I was thinking and hoping that someone, somewhere, would see the little light and be drawn in.

A friend from a long time ago reached out to ask “is this, onatuesday, still you?” And he said he had enjoyed what I had to say back then and that my working through my own torment or frustrations was helpful to him; that he had taken comfort in it when he himself was feeling low. It means a lot to hear but even more to be reminded that this state I’ve been in isn’t particularly new for me. I have been walking around for the past year or so feeling completely out of place: wondering where all this was coming from: it felt alien, wrong. This is not me, I kept saying to myself, I am happy. I am happy, goddamn it.

But it isn’t that simple: I have a continuum of being. I am never all one thing. Because I have not been putting thoughts down to ponder them, I felt unfamiliar to myself. “How can I know what I think until I see what I say?” goes the quote.

How, indeed.

Circle Back

I miss the control I used to have when working with code. I miss feeling like I could solve anything with it, having the optimism to expect nothing less of myself.

Where is she?