I’ve been going to bed early and I want to say this is because at thirty-seven years old, I’ve finally grown into adulthood, but really it is because I have grown into a sadness. This will not surprise anyone here, because even I saw it growing in the corner of every post shared this year.
In November, I tried to write it out, weed it out, surgically write around the sads, but it seemed like this made them hurt more.
A new struggle I have had, this year and last, are struggles that cannot be talked about. If I cannot weed around, and I do not have the strength to go above, and I do not have the permission to walk through — how do I get past the weeds?
This morning at 4am, I lay in bed and thought out a metaphor. It’s a little past 7 now and I do not want to become the person who sleeps with her sads. Who wakes up, cuddled next to them, and shares three hours of the morning before living the day.
So I am writing this. And I am writing out the metaphor.
It’s a bit like going under the weeds, but it’s better than staying under the covers.
I have a friend who smokes and loves candles that smell like pumpkin. They also always leave the gas on the stove running.
We are friends for many reasons. If our dreams continue and if we continue with our dreams, I think our lives are going in the same direction.
The gas thing, though: It worries me. It makes me sick, sometimes physically.
I turn it off when I can.
This whole time, I’ve told myself that my friend isn’t reckless with us on purpose, they are just young. They’ve been an adult for a handful of years and have been responsible for their adulthood even less than that. They’ve been responsible for other people even less than that.
This whole time, I’ve told myself, they aren’t trying to make me sick.
I brought it up first lightly, almost a joke. “So what are we going to do about this gas, hmm?” and later as a direct request, and then later again, the same.
No matter how many times I tell them that gas unchecked is dangerous, that the dynamic and expectations needs to be sorted: they tell me they’ll get to it.
Well, there was finally an incident. A small one, all things considered, and my friend got sick for a solid week and still doesn’t feel good.
I know I should have been soft and worried, but instead I was angry. This was all so preventable. Our dreams are in this direction and they’re setting it ablaze.
When they got home again, they put up a sign as a reminder. A few days later, they bought some gum to replace the smokes. They sat me down and told me that I should close more loops myself, turn off the gas more myself, even though every time I try, they reach down and undo the work.
These signs and packs feel like small, empty gestures when we still can’t have an honest conversation about why this is really happening, when people who are visiting the house still suffer under the same mistake even though we are not allowed to talk about it.
No one wants to talk about the things they cannot see, like gas that fills the air, and power and pain.
When a simple fix is avoided for so long, it starts to feel on purpose. It starts to feel malicious, and the fear of that is growing in my belly.
But also there is hope. They put up a sign.
Not everyone moves as fast as me, I’ve been told my whole life. I am trying to stay patient.
I know I’m not good at that, and that helps me find even more patience. I’m twice as careful, twice as slow, in situations that require it.
Aside from this issue that might be in its first stages of solution, all this gas has cast a personal pallor over my days.
Because you see, I saw it. I saw it from the very first day. I just didn’t recognize it as the thing that might end my friendship. And now I am thinking about how this is a pattern.
I think I’ve overcorrected from my years of traumatic overload. When I came home from prison, I saw everything as a problem. Now, I am more patient with what I see. I call it a pattern. I call it a quirk. I call it an avoidable, fix-it-later thing.
Sometimes, I would have served everyone better, including myself, if I just called it a problem.
Sometimes, when I walk into a room full of gas, I need to come in screaming. I need to be the alarm.
Sometimes, when I walk into a room full of gas, I just need to turn it off, and then turn around, and leave.
What age is it when I learn the perfect response to every situation? What age is it when I learn how be safe and brave and patient at the same time?
How do I tell people who have never seen a world fall apart that explosions don’t start big and loud and full of fire? A baby explosion is nothing really more than a puff of heavy air and bit of light, and a touch of malice. If you don’t have malice, negligence will do.
What you shine light on, matters. How you tend to a thing, matters.
What you call things, matters.
If it matters to me, and if I matter to you, then it should matter.
I want to say, at thirty-seven years old, I’ve finally grown into adulthood. Instead, at thirty-seven years old, I have very little grip on adulthood, a bed-full of weeds, and a long long list of things I want to say and can’t.