Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I turned twenty-eight on Sunday. It happened without a lot of fanfare--mostly because my grandmother and the man she married were in town. They'd come with my father, who dropped them off with their friends from Florida, who have a spring-summer-and-fall-home in Maine, and we went back down to retrieve them on Sunday morning so they could spend my birthday with me.

My father and I had spent the day before trying to make whatever fanfare we could, which included taking a trip to the very famous Red's Eats for lobster rolls and taking a trip to Popham Beach for some beautiful Maine coast and taking a trip to Freeport to shop and fill up on truffles from the Lindt outlet, but when we picked my grandmother and grandfather up, the day, my actual birthday, became less about fanfare and more about shouting.

My grandmother's husband can't hear very well--even with his hearing aid, which he took out and polished during lunch--and most of the day was spent having conversations like this one:

Grandma: This lobster is delicious.

Grandpa: WHAT?!





Grandpa: I accidentally shot a deer last weekend.

We took them to the coast for lobster, and then we drove them to my town and gave them a tour of the high points, which included the college, the hotel where they'd spend the night, and Home Depot. After that, we took them back to my apartment and my grandfather fell asleep in my recliner and my grandmother watched me and my father polish my new dresser with Old English.

When my grandfather woke up, my grandmother cut the angel food cake she'd brought for the occasion and my father put on Fox News so my grandfather could get his fix. We ate the cake and watched a doctor discuss the merits of vegetable cleansers you can now buy in the produce section of grocery stores. Then my grandmother announced she was ready to go to back to the hotel to get ready for bed. It was 6:10 PM.

It had just been one of those days. It was nice to see my grandparents, of course, and doubly nice to see my father, but the few days before their arrival had been pretty wretched and I'd spent most of my birthday trying not to cry.

After all, it's been an interesting time since I came back to Maine at the beginning of August. Some pretty decent things started happening to me--"Hey!" my office-mate said. "Maybe Saturn's cutting you some slack!"--and those things continued to go pretty well until they stopped going anywhere at all. All the lovely, all the good, all the sweet disappeared a few days before my family's arrival, before my birthday.

And it's pretty well documented that I don't do well with with change and affairs of the heart. Especially affairs of the heart. I get nervous and critical of myself. I analyze. I analyze. I analyze. But worst of all is this: I hope. I hope an awful lot. I tie myself up in that hope, bind it right up to my throat, choke myself with it. I think, Maybe! Maybe! Maybe!

It's never maybe. It's always never. And I'm left feeling wrung out.

Today the chair of my department sent around an e-mail asking everyone to get downstairs to gather for a cheesecake in honor of my birthday. It's the twenty-eighth birthday, right? the e-mail said. I wrote back to say that, yes, it was, and that I hoped twenty-eight was going to be a bit better than twenty-seven and that I had high hopes for it; after all, eight is my lucky number.

Honey, another member of the department wrote back, they're all lucky. We just have to be able to recognize the luck. And that was enough to make me put my head down on my desk and cry for a few minutes before I went off to get a slice of turtle cheesecake.

What am I trying to say? I guess just this: I am tired. I am confused. I am busy cataloguing my faults and trying to determine how I ended up here again. I am too cluttered in the head. I want quiet. I need to shut myself up, to stop listening to all that chatter kicking around my brain. I want to silence that very Catholic part of myself that's saying, You know this happened because you're a bad person, right? Because you don't care about anyone but yourself. Because you are rotten. Because you're a brat. Because you don't do anything good for anyone. You're getting what you deserve.

It's too much. And I don't want to be like that anymore, although that seems like a lofty wish. I know that no matter how much quiet introspection I muddle through, no matter how much therapy I will eventually enroll myself in, no matter how much time I sit around trying to make myself still, I will always be a version of this girl. But for now I'm going to try to force myself to be quiet. This blog is going on a small hiatus until I can come back and tell the complicated story of how I did it again, how I ended up feeling like something that has just spent the last month turning over and over and over in the surf and saltwater until it made it back to the beach, to the sun and wind that will drink from it any of the water that kept it alive and moving in the first place.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I'll always cherish my grad school years in part because of the great people I met there. You're one of the great people, Jess.