A Study in Variability

Today was all over the place in almost every way I can imagine. On an unrelated yet coincidental note, I was also all over the place today. Allow me to explain…

Very early this morning, I found myself spontaneously but irrevocably awake. It was 2:30 or so, and this was not a fleeting middle-of-the-night consciousness where you blink a few times at the dark and then roll over—this was the kind of insomnia that always makes me want to punch myself in the face. Fortunately, I had enough foresight to realize that intentionally bruising myself was a Bad Idea, and instead I read all of Is Everyone Else Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and managed to stifle my laughter so as to not wake up any neighbors (though I did thoroughly confuse my cat). Eventually the part of my brain that recognizes the value of a full night of sleep wrested control back from whatever misguidedness was afoot, and the next thing I knew it was after 9 am. This is notable because, as an inveterate morning person, I don’t think I’ve slept so late in years. Years, people. Needless to say, this set a weird tone for the day.

The first time I ventured outside, it was cloudy, and strangely warm and humid. More like summer than what we’ve been experiencing of late. I sweated through my t-shirt while walking to Whole Foods to buy red lentils in bulk. The ignominy of this pushed me over from a weird mood into a bad mood. As a result, I left Whole Foods with seven pounds of red lentils and a brunch spread composed entirely of dessert items. I was halfway home before realizing that I’d forgotten to buy tofu, and so I spent the remainder of the walk haranguing myself internally in a manner completely out of scale with such a simple oversight. By the time I arrived home, I had slid all the way down the spectrum to a Black Mood. I did laundry and ate brunch-dessert until I felt sick, at which point I pretty much just hated myself.

But then, the most wonderful thing happened. I realized I needed to buy some other foodstuffs and opted to walk to the much closer and cheaper supermarket. The weather was glorious. Still warm, but the humidity had dissipated, and oh, the sky. So blue, scattered with stunning clouds, with the sun piercing through. It was the best that fall has to offer, and I felt my emotions crawling out from the cave they had been inhabiting for much of the day.

I walked slowly, stopping to take pictures with Beau whenever something really struck me, and reflecting in a very broad, general way that only seems possible when one is emerging from a no-good, horrible, very-bad mood.

You see, my life has been very up-and-down over the past few months (witness: the paucity of posting). And while some of what happened was very good, it was ultimately stressful, and so I have been in a near-constant state of overwhelmed-ness since spring. Sometimes, I managed to get into a good groove and deal with the stress well. At those points, I felt healthy, strong, ready to take on whatever popped up. However, sometimes—like earlier today—I made bad decisions (see: dessert-brunch). And it always just makes the whole thing worse. It’s in those moment—when I let my gloom take over—that I question everything about my life, feeling out of sync with this murky and undefined idea of where I should be and what I should be doing.

But back to my afternoon walk to the grocery store. Because, oh my, it was just so very perfect, and I found myself thinking how much I like where I live. I make no secret that there’s much about DC that I do not like, but I do appreciate the corner of it that I have carved out for myself.I arrived back home simply bursting with thoughts, with insights, with words I wanted to commit to this space right here. So I sat down and started typing. But it came out jumbled. I wanted to say so many things that it turned into a big sloppy mess. I would type furiously and then hold my finger down firmly on the delete key. One step forward, one step back. I didn’t feel bad about it, but I didn’t feel good either.

During one break in this odd, side-stepping typing exercise,  I happened to glance at the time and—yikes!—realized I had to leave Right Then to walk to meet my brother for our weekly sibling dinner. Three minutes to pull myself together—pause at the door to debate taking an umbrella, ultimately ceding to the strong, inexplicable urge to stuff it in my bag—and then I was walking swiftly across the bridge toward sushi and sibling time. It started to sprinkle when I was halfway there. By the time I arrived, I realized that my flimsy, compact umbrella was not up to the challenge posed by the sudden deluge.

Dinner with Robbie. Can I just say how much I adore my brother? He’s lived in DC the whole time I’ve been here (even longer, actually), yet it wasn’t until he finished grad school this past spring that we said to ourselves, “it’s ridiculous that we see each other so rarely,” and so weekly sibling dinner was born. Initially envisioned as a way for me to keep him fed and distracted while he was not-yet-employed, we’ve kept it up even after he started a job that requires commuting out to the suburbs. Tonight was sushi and lots of laughing. Out the windows of the second-floor restaurant, I could see vibrant colors in the sky as the sun set and the rain continued. I felt happy, calm, more at peace than I have in a while.

We emerged to discover that it was now raining even harder. With a hug and wishing each other luck at staying dry on our walks home, we headed in opposite directions. It was pouring. My shoes were soaked in under a minute. The sleeve of my shirt stuck to my skin, and I realized that I was actually cold. But I continued on, putting music on shuffle, and by sheer chance several favorite songs played in a row, the ones that make me feel better when I’m overwhelmed, the ones that make me feel like I can handle anything that comes my way. I hadn’t even thought of them these past few months, but tonight they were in my ears like old friends, reminding me of things I sometimes forget. Around me, everything seemed gilded by everyday magic, glowing and beautiful.

And so I walked home accompanied by the rain, feeling that wonderful sense of community you get when everybody is experiencing the exact same thing, listening to the melodies and words that bring me back to my best self. For a day that started with me unbalanced and flailing, I end it feeling strong and euphoric and exactly where I’m supposed to be.

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