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Trivial Pursuit (Joce)



I’m deep in the September sads. This month always makes me melancholy: the promise of a coming fall, imminent winter, inevitable inversion and long, dark days. It is the opposite of spring – lush, living things dry up and blow away, stone fruits drop and rot into sweet brown mush in the lawn, those things I said I’d do in June, remain undone. I didn’t work on my book. I didn’t lose 30 lbs. My summer fling has flung. The sweaty fervor and electric heat of summer wanes and my hopes go into hibernation.

There are babies being born, weddings on the docket, but there’s nothing in my small, quiet life that warrants a celebration. Like a squirrel, my sister says, I’m just puttering around, putting food away for winter.  I find myself more resistant, more cautious, less willing in fall. Which means it’s going to be a long, and lonely winter.


I had a mostly cheerful summer and the freckles to prove it. But then slowly and surely the mood turned – life seemed sunburned and a little brittle. The flies hatched and bothered. Nik lost his mom and in bold relief I remembered how much like me she was: bawdy, silly, loyal with a heart as deep and craggy as the Marianas trench. And it reminded me that you can love someone and know someone, but that you can’t comfort them, because it’s not your place anymore. And then a good friends daughter died, which seemed like the most disgustingly brutal thing that could ever happen to someone, especially someone so good and kind and generous. And it reminded me that you can love someone and they can leave you, even if they love you back, with all their heart. Because death doesn’t care at all about love.

And then a couple of friendships ended. And I felt betrayed. But mostly by myself, that I let myself care about someone, again, and they couldn’t or wouldn’t return the favor. And I was reminded that that old cliché that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, and it feels like bunk. It feels like a lie promised by those who are safe in their love, guarded by the comfort of a partner, a family, a community. I have loved more than anyone. I have allowed myself to give in, to be vulnerable, to care, to adore, to be motivated by love. And in return I have been honored only by sorrow, pain and heartache. And that is not better.

I’m 37 years old and I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t have the energy. I’m more than willing to cut a friendship, a relationship, off at the knees, because I know what’s coming. It will end and it’s not going to end well. It’s not going to make me, anybody, feel warm and fuzzy. It’s going to go up in a giant mushroom cloud of fucked up anger and sadness. And someone is going to tell me that I’m not good enough. That I’ve disappointed them: that I’m ugly and mean and desperate and worthless. So, I try to just disappear (a ghost), make myself small enough (a mouse), quiet enough (a whisper), to fit in a shoebox under the bed.

Even though I know, being alone is exhausting. And every day I feel the pressure, the worry, that it’s all on me. And I don’t always feel capable, able, to manage that. But, everybody else has their own life, their own troubles and worries and to add my problems to theirs is to be a burden. So, I try and come to terms with this is how it is, and you must learn to cope and be okay with it.  But, admittedly, I’m not very good at that.

I hate to be alone and yet I’m mostly, always, alone. I have a lot to give, acres, oceans, and yet, nobody seems to want what I have. Who I am. Me. 

And I’m tired, damnit, but I cannot sleep.