The other night I got glared at and kicked right in the needy.
It was all metaphorical, though the love with which the kick was aimed, was very real. And sometimes I need that kind of rough-and-ready reality check, particularly at the moment.
The kick came when I was late to bed (again, or, as usual) and was beginning to bemoan how tired I would be on the morrow. Quite apart from having no leg to stand on to complain (seeing as the tiredness is self-inflicted), it was pointed out to me that I need to start taking better care of myself. That I need to find a way to put myself first rather than die by inches chasing after TimeZoned connections. Because I’ve been struggling ever since I got back from Murica.
Yes, this is a Murica tale, in a way, but also not, because it’s about here, too. And because I’m totally DONE with Real for the day, I’ll allow you the visual of knowing that I’m writing this snuggled under a duvet on the sofa, in my Tigger onesie, with my perpetually cold feet, and my ears attuned for the ‘ding’ which lets me know that someone’s interacting with me on Facebook. And yes, I’m running over there at each electronic beckon, for reasons which will become apparent. Meanwhile, this post might be a bit scatty.
That’s the fun, though, of having a blog (and I’ve seen lots lately on “why I write”) – I don’t need to express all the Big Thinks or Promotions or Vital-and-Wonderfuls all the time – I just need to write, and whatever it is will find some way to winnow its way to your mind, or your heart, and then it’s down to you to respond. Or not (because we all like different things, or have phones which won’t let us interact, or plain and simply don’t have time). But knowing you read my words and took some portion of them away with you as a silvery new thread of thought in your mind…that’s awesome.
Back to kicking.
Murica broke me. I don’t mind telling you that. It was possibly one of the pinnacles of my experience so far, in many ways and for numerous reasons (more to follow next week in a guest post at Stories That Must Not Die) but it was also a pinnacle which exploded as I stood on it, tumbling me down an increasingly rocky mountainside and back into an altered reality.
Kicking. And crying. Because half my heart got left on a runway in Murica, and I feel as though it’s still there, bleeding (though I’ve been reliably informed that it’s in the hands of my friends, and they’re caring for it until I come back to fix it together again).
I dread to think what my fellow passengers made of me – an English anomaly with a red suitcase, a sparkling tiara, and non-stop salt tears drenching her cheeks. In the couple of weeks I was first home, I ruined my eyes with crying* so much – a process which began the moment I said goodbye to my first people, when I felt that wrench of loss. It was every bit as bad as I thought. And it was every bit as bad as I thought, with each fresh goodbye. But leaving the country? Agony. Actual, breath-impeding, soul-crushing, heart-shredding agony.
The tears continued daily as I tried to reintegrate to the world which had formerly been my whole home. Each cycle to work was sprinkled with tears, and mourning-darkness clouded my every moment. Steel toe cap shoes turned and turned the same old pedals as the wind got into my eyes and I could justify crying by telling myself it was just the weather. I barely spoke. Each time I reached out online and remembered the moments when I could reach out in person and connect physically, the shards of my broken existence twisted within me, grinding pain on jagged pain.
Life as it had been, was no longer sufficient. I had tasted the wonder and joy of being in the right timezone with the largest number of my people, in spite of their varied geography. Here, I think I take my people for granted. I’m sure I do. They’re all almost within arm’s reach, and for a number of my people, several times a week, they are literally within arm’s reach, or held inside a hug. They are vital, functioning elements of my world, and I think I vastly underestimate the portion they inhabit.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to see obligation within old relationships, and givens within familial ones. I’m guilty of finding a thrill in the novelty of having an extraordinary number of wonderful friends made suddenly Real, and acknowledging that they truly, truly, extremely have chosen to care about me, with little more than (at maximum) a few years context.
Perhaps I just fall too quickly and too easily, base over apex into friendship. The ‘why’ of how a larger number of sustaining friendships haven’t happened here, in my current Real, is too complex a depth to plumb. I think a large part of it is that I’m not the person I was three years ago, thanks in large part to this blog and the connections made through it. Thanks to the hearts and friendships of the people with whom I connected, who have altered me profoundly and forever.
That said, even in typing the above, I wonder if THAT is the reason for such meaningful relationships with a group of people scattered to the four corners of the New World – the simple fact that ‘online’ gave me the opportunity to cherry-pick the very best of them. And bless their boots, they picked me back.
So now I’m kicking my heels down at the bottom of the mountainside, with the pinnacle looming above me, giving me the fantods and teasing me with its glory. I’ve been there. I’ve done the slog. And up there is where the air is purest and the sunshine brightest. Believe me, there are huge, gorgeous puddles of sunshine-people here, at base camp, where I’ve been forever. It’s safe here, and I will always have the kit, kaboodle and support around me, as well as their love. But having had a taste of the top, I want another go at it.
I’ve never been an adventurer. I’m not a born traveller – I like my home comforts and to know where things are. But in Murica, ‘home’ changed. It split in two and spread itself across the Atlantic ocean, obstinately planting itself in two mutually exclusive places, both of which I want to live in. Two worlds where I know I can connect, engage, thrive…cherish. So now, in spite of my many misgivings, I’m doing my best to up sticks and leave.
I’ve ‘done’ this world – this base-camp of forever. I’ve mulled and muddled and moithered and never really Become anything. Except I have, because all the while, below the surface, and with every cumulative experience and interaction and slight change in my being, I Became the person who flew on a magical whistle-stop tour of some of the people she loves most.
I’ve not stopped Becoming.
My next phase lies to the West. For better or for worse, I’m returning, for as long as I can possibly make it work. To see. To TRY. To Live.
Here, I am still shrouded in the unevaporated mists of my past. They cling to me, dampening my skin and leaving me goose-bumped and pathetic. If I call out, I oftenest hear my own voice come back through the gloaming, mocking me in echoes which recall my mistakes and failings. I’ve been lost in those mists for too long, following the chalk-marks back to the warmth and safety of base camp, because I’ve never had the inspiration or inclination to push through. I’ve been too used to not being enough, or only just being enough. Or feeling like it, anyway, which is the same kind of thing.
At the pinnacle, the mists were blasted by sunshine and heat and warmth. I *felt* it. I was free of the shadows and in spite of a few unexpected mountaintop yetis, the clammy darkness was gone. I thrived. I cherished. I was cherished. Not that I’m not cherished here, but…I’m needy. I know I’m needy – I got kicked in it. And I need** more.
I asked, earlier, on Facebook, whether my friends found me demanding. Overwhelmingly they didn’t (which was nice).
I’m a firm believer in trying my utmost NOT to be demanding. I don’t ask people to love me in a particular way, or insist on a certain style or type of friendship. I’m pliable and acquiescent, sometimes to a fault (or at least to the point of taking damage). I watch and wait and see what people offer. I gauge the depth of their care for me through their actions (or lack, thereof), and I hope that *I* act in ways which demonstrate the depth of my care for them. Love is a verb, and done right, #LoveWins.
At the moment, Love is steel-toe-cap-kicking my ass, because my world is in two, and all I can do is try. I know that what will seem like a HUGE and glorious gesture of love and enclosening for one set of my people, might seem like cool abandonment to the other. My attempts to get love right – get life right – might all come unstuck in the sticking together of pieces which I won’t know the fit of until I’m there, up close and personal with the glue.
I have huge anxiety about how successful I will be in my attempt to finally take charge of my geography (if not my destiny), but I know that I have all the encouragement and support and love I could ever, ever hope to have – on BOTH sides – and that makes the attempt so much more approachable. And it is approaching. My belongings are being sold or packed for storage or relocation. Plans are becoming solidified. A path is being mapped and fresh kit is being bought for the journey.
There will be salt tears, and steel toe caps, and one helluva lot of kicking.
I’m on the move.
I am Becoming.
*true story – I cried so much the salt stripped my skin and I was disgusting and blotchy and constantly, desperately applying All The Moisturisers in an effort to prevent further damage. All around my eyes, the new skin is still fragile, and I can’t wear makeup at the moment, which suuuucks, because I feel so much less *twinklysparklyokay* when I can’t even fake i.
**by ‘need’, I mean the deep, emotional conviction kind, not the ‘actually going to stop living without it’ kind.