Family, Friends, Toads, and Staying in the Moment

Earlier this week I had a conversation with my sister that I woke up this morning processing, because I’m Delayed Reaction Girl, and I realized it left me with a lonely and scared feeling. Jealousy. Self-centeredness. What about me? What stood out to me were two things: 1) that my other sister (Sherry) now calls the one I was talking to (Michelle) on the phone more often and 2) that Sherry suggested moving out West where Michelle lives with her family. Well it would be nice if we all lived in the same place near each other, I’d said, as I’ve often felt that way but just realized I’ve never expressed it.

That’s one of the hard lessons I had to learn after Mom died. If you don’t tell people how much you love them and care about them, they don’t necessarily know. It might’ve been news to Michelle that I’d be willing to move wherever they go. They want to move back to Washington state. The only thing is, the problem for me would be that I don’t want to leave my best friend (love you, K!) nor do I want to leave my stepfather (“Daddy Goodman” aka Papa G), though he might remarry, in which case I don’t see me going to visit him and stay in his house. Maybe just lunch or a short visit. I’d have loved to have Papa G as a father but I can’t expect him not to remarry. He’s been a father mostly to Sherry all these years but she can’t live in the country forever, there being limited jobs there, and lots of people who she has little in common with. Michelle and I are certain she’d be happier in Asheville but you can only lead a horse to water, and that horse ain’t budging.

So in my head I’d foretold a future of Papa G remarrying, Sherry moving out West near Michelle, and me being left alone on my island. Sure I could move out there too, but like I said, I don’t want to leave my bestie who’s like my third sister. Preferably Papa G would buy a big piece of land and we’d all live on it commune-style, in harmony (hahaha!). I’d find some wonderful man we all loved who chops wood for fun and we’d grow a vegetable garden, get some goats and chickens, and sing kumbaya by a fire under the stars at night.

That’s how quickly I project into an unknown future that will never happen.

What is this really about?

It’s about me being afraid of abandonment. It’s about, Y’all are all gonna leave me and live together out West.

That’s when I have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I have what I need here, now. I have my chosen family. I love my job. I’m on a career path that will allow me to be more financially independent–though technically I’m independent now, and have been for my entire adult life. And if we all lived on the same land, let’s be real, we’d fight more. Distance really can make the heart grow fonder.

Who knows what the future holds? Maybe I will move out West one day. It depends. I have a lot of options. We all have options. Some come with sacrifices, and that makes it seem as though we’re trapped, but we’re not. This is all a choice.

Right now there is where I am. And this place is pretty darn good.

What’s funny is how, when I’m in a place of what seems like limbo, I want so badly to be settled, but when I’ve been settled, how quickly I grew bored and restless, wanting to know what the next phase would be, often forcing something, just to get out of the seeming rut I had put myself in. At some point you have to ask yourself, When will I be satisfied? Am I not satisfied right now, in this moment? Do I not have the opportunity at any time to start my day over and have a positive attitude, or at least one of gratitude? What is it I can do right now about this feeling of fear and abandonment?

I can reach out to someone else. I ran into someone recently who I hadn’t seen in two years, since a mutual friend of ours had died, and this particular young woman had moved to Iceland. Now she’s back and has had two open heart surgeries (she’s only 28) and is now getting sober again after having relapsed. And I think I got problems? Not to invalidate my feelings, but sometimes it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

I can also say positive affirmations: I am smart, strong, and successful. I have friends, loved ones. Tonight I have plans to see my chosen family. Tomorrow night and Sunday night, same thing.

Honestly I love it here. On the 4th of July the power went out around 11pm, and my roommate and I went adventuring out into the neighborhood with a flashlight to see how far the power outage went. It was so dark and quiet out, and all we could see were our neighbors’ flashlights inside their homes, and some of the neighbors had come outside too. It was just really nice. At one point my flashlight landed on another frog—technically it was a toad both times—but this guy was much more energetic than the Buddha I’d held last week. This little guy would barely allow me to catch him, my goal being to catapult him into another dimension, that I call the woods, where he could live in safety for longer, but he leaped right out of my hand, hell-bent on hopping directly to impending danger, the road, where surely he’d meet his end. He was in such a hurry, and for what? To meet his end?

My roommate told me of a toad who’d been living in our backyard last year, and how he liked a gentle pat on the back, as well as a little chin scratch, like a cat, except you had to do it just right, with one finger along the side of the jawline, she demonstrated. I love her.

Sometimes we dance in the kitchen while talking. It’s one of my favorite things to do, at home and work, in the midst of conversation, to break out into the goofiest dance possible. It has to be something like this:

And that’s what life is really about.



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