Going to therapy is a lot like opening the hall closet. To a certifiable avalanche, of stuff:
Real-deal winter jackets. (The kind with a thick layer of lift tickets left on every available zipper.) Long-lost gloves. (Hey, these are kind of nice!) Pinch-your-toe ski boots. (Years Six, Seven, and Eight.) Four fleeces. (Used to be fleecy.) Nine neck warmers. (Six of them kind of crusty.) A multicolored mitten. (Singular.) A dozen hats. (None of which ever really fit anybody.) Wrapping paper. Light bulbs. Baskets. Baby books. A wreath that’s seen better days.
You knew it was going to be bad, you knew you’d have to go through it all eventually, but still, you hadn’t quite prepared yourself. Not for an onslaught like this — not for an onslaught of this magnitude. The extent of it is really beginning to register: stuff’s sliding at you as quickly as it’s surrounding you.
This begs the question: What do you DO, with all of this stuff. Why you jam it all back in as best you can, shut-slam the door, and hope for warmer weather.
We lucked out, yesterday. It was warm. Warm enough to warrant one last trip out to the coast.
Where do you do your best talking? I think I might do mine in the car. I don’t know why, but when we’re moving and there’s a little music playing, I always find it infinitely easier to say what I want to say. Even when I wasn’t exactly sure, until I said it.
I’m not sure about Portland, Mom. (Oregon, Portland.) I’m really not sure.
I’m not sure I’m ever going to be a city person.
I’m not sure I made the right choice, when I left Maine. I’ve been here just over two months, which, granted, is not a ton of time, but my gut has suddenly started screaming. For all intents and purposes, I haven’t unpacked. And I’m still tacking on three hours, every time I look at the clock. East coast time.
This kind of life I’m supposed to be having? My body isn’t having it. Really, isn’t having it. And my heart? It’s not in it. Even though I had really, really hoped it would be — my heart’s not in it. It’s not in this [very liberal] city. Which is nothing less than lovely, for some.
Where is my heart, then? Is it in a sleepy little seaside town? A town with one street — one street, without a stoplight to speak of — and a single spot to go, when you want really good cake? Cupcakes and cakes.
I can’t answer that. It feels like I can’t answer anything. Not where I want to go or what I want to do or who I want to be.
I can tell you this: the knot in my lower belly — the part that takes a punch every time I feed it — it loosens, whenever I let myself think about going back to Maine.
But it doesn’t go away completely. To be fair. It doesn’t go away when I admit I’ve failed again. It doesn’t go away when I starve myself numb. It doesn’t go away when I try to stop, stop trying to make myself sick. Over falling further behind, over spending too much money, over not paying my own way, over a thousand things.
It doesn’t go away when I go for a walk in the woods, and try very not to think about anything at all. One foot in front of the other — that’s all.
I’m not naïve enough to think that I think a place is going to make me feel better. A place — even the perfect place — is not going to make me less stressed. Or more forgiving.
But it might make it slightly easier for me to try. And I’m sick of making things so hard. Of trying to muscle my way through something that seemed so smart on paper, and winded up feeling so awful in real life. NYC, Oregon.
It was stupid for me to go so far away, at a time when I so obviously need support. And it is so far. It is so far, from everything I know. From everybody I know.
I don’t want to be in another place, temporarily. I want to be home. And if I can’t pinpoint where that is, exactly, then I want to be somewhere that feels right. Somewhere that feels like it could be home, with a little more time.
That place is not Portland, Oregon. (This) Portland feels like a foreign country. I kid you not.
But I’m not sold on the Portland I left, either. Small-town-city, Portland. I didn’t grow up there, either. I have next to no friends there, either. What do I have there? A coffee shop I loved. A view I couldn’t get enough of. A father I’m furious with.
But it would be familiar, at the very least. Is there something so wrong, with craving something familiar?
I crave other things, too. A simple life. Family nearby. A group of girl friends, all right there. A boy to snuggle up with, in the sticks. (More or less. Maybe the suburbs? I’d be willing to hash it out.)
And I’d want to write. Books, in the afternoons. And I’d want a breakfast place, with my mom. What would I really want? I’d want to feed people. Make them feel better.
SAMPLE [OVERLY AMBITIOUS] MENU:
I Wrecked A Pan for This, Cast Iron Frittata (Egg Whites, Roasted Vegetable)
Lobster (Lots of It) Omelet
Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Greens, Eggs, and Ham
Buttermilk Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits with Salty Honey Butter
Roasted Potato Galette with Cheddar and Chives
Stuff on Toast (Rotating)
Wild Salmon Scramble Eggs
Slow Poached Eggs, Grilled Garlic Rubbed English Muffin
Crispy Kale BLT Croque Madame with Aged Gouda and Avocado
Cold Cereal w/ Milk (Assorted childhood favorites, choose up to three)
Let’s Start Over, Scratch Small Bagel (Add Zucchini Butter or Bacon Jam)
Don’t Judge (Won’t Judge), Apple Fritter Donut
Working On It, Poblano-Stuffed Something
Bell-less, Whistle-less, Damn Good Fresh Toast
Make-Ahead Peaches and Cream Breakfast Bake
Giant Vanilla Salted Butterscotch Sticky Buns
Morning Glory Oats
Plain Old Pancakes (Add fun, for no charge: Chocolate Chips, Pure Maple Syrup, Wild Maine Blueberries, or My Best Friend’s Lemon Curd)
Pull Apart Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread
Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones
Brown Butter Big Cluster Granola
Mountain of Fresh Fruit (One size only)
I Worked Really Hard on This, Greek Yogurt Parfait
I Just Want to Go Home, Pie (À la mode, if you want/need it. On us.)
Don’t Judge (Won’t Judge), Apple Fritter Donut
Sweet and Salty Open-Faced Sandwich (Fig Jam, Good Gruyere, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Arugula)
“We’re all fools, all the time. It’s just we’re a different kind each day. We think, I’m not a fool. I’ve learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we are a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact that we’re not perfect and live accordingly.”