Figure 8


Anniversaries are like bookends on your life, ways to measure the passing of time, the progress or failure.  Last year at this time, my best friend/ fake mom died from cancer.  I was feverishly writing my memoir, suffering from moments of brilliance and valleys of self-doubt. My boyfriend was boozing it up behind my back.  I traveled across the country with money I didn’t have to look at high-priced colleges for my daughter.  I guzzled bottles of wine and flirted with a younger man, listening to Pet Sounds and holding hands late into the night like I was twenty-three all over again. 

Months later, a shrink told me I had a manic episode.  Even though I was on medications, my bipolar wasn’t well “controlled.” And while there was some truth to that, I was also bristling against an out-of-control world where everything I’d rebuilt since I stopped using drugs was crumbling faster than I could patch it up again.

It’s the end of July. Our heat wave finally broke, much-needed rain and cool winds erase previous days where smiles from strangers set me on edge. My daughter got into her fancy college in Milwaukee where we pulled loans from the sky and found credible co-signers.  She has a checklist of dorm items to buy: shower caddies and XL sheets, table lamps, and towels.  We go to bed and bath stores, look at soft comforters and memory foam pillows.  I watch her plan her new life that is wide-open and full of questions and possibilities.

I’ve stopped plugging my memoir for a bit.  Started drinking too much white wine.  Still wonder if the boyfriend is boozing it up behind my back. I think of the 23-year-old from time to time, my dead ex-boyfriend that I adored, husband #2 that I can’t stop hating. I flirt with other people and imagine how my life could be different and play the same CD over and over again, the one I used to listen to ten years ago that I’m too embarrassed to admit to even a group of strangers.

No, can’t say too much has changed. Still caught in the struggle between what is, what could be and everything in-between. I see momentum in the lives of others – new jobs and relationships and opportunities to explore other landscapes. And I wonder why I’m so stuck, wanting to blame it on meds or moods or the significant, sad events that everyone faces.  When it reality, I think it is just me.



5 Responses to “Figure 8”

  1. 1 fojap

    Wish I could tell you something encouraging.

    If the only thing wrong with the 23 year old is that he’s twenty-three, I wouldn’t toss out his number just yet. If you were a man and he was female, no one would blink. My grandmother married a man twelve years her junior and my great-grandmother’s last boyfriend was twenty years younger than she was. I know the age of the woman who lives across the hall from me, but I suspect her new beau doesn’t. It happens.

    If you get solace from playing the same CD, who cares. We all do it sometimes, even the normal ones.

    Hang in there. You know this feeling will pass.

    • I always love your comments and upbeat attitude. Yea, I’m not holding out for the 23 year old. A youthful infatuation. I struggle more with grown-up love!

  2. A powerful post. That fact that you can write with honesty and clarity about difficult things is a wonderful gift. If it’s “just you”, then it’s just all of us. We’re all struggling through the darkness toward that glimmer of light we see in the distance, and inside ourselves too. Judging from my experience, It’s not out of reach.

  3. It’s interesting how we seek out something new when situations are undesirable. Sometimes I feel like primordial drives of reproduction and hunger guide all my decisions, directly or indirectly.

    Nothing wrong with flirting up a 23 year old. We all need a little escape sometimes; especially if no one is being hurt.
    And I’ll bet he was having fun. Speaking from experience…
    I was 25, with too much time on my hands, and an acoustic on my back. She was a sparky 42 year old redhead, had lots of stories, and liked tequila way too much.
    It was short lived, but 3 months I thoroughly enjoyed, and have no regrets.

    I love your writing, and it seems I can relate a lot.
    Thanks for taking the time to put it out there.

    • I love it when I can relate to others, too. I liked the way you described her as sparky. It’s funny how, even for a spell, people come into our lives to brighten in. Thanks for taking the time to comment and read my work. I hope to hear from you again!

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