We’ve landed in California. We all left on New Year’s Day, and from where we lived in Michigan, it was about 2,400 miles to our destination in the Bay area. A five hour flight for Robb and the kids, direct, with N-95 masks firmly in place, seating spread out across a large craft…it was fine. The drive took me, my mom, and my dog, four and a half days, covering five-hundred to seven-hundred miles a day. The dog didn’t drive much.
We stayed in single unit, “enhanced clean” Airbnb’s along the way, only going into buildings with humans when we absolutely had to, then masked and sanitized to the gills. Despite the sense of doom, of risk, of worry, we did well. We slept hard at night and listened to charming murder mysteries as we drove. The scenery, when the roads weren’t trying to murder us, was varied and breathtaking. We saw wild horses! The audacity of that freedom. Driving was peaceful with just the two of us. Zero children and just the one dog. It was fine.
Those of us in the Subaru arrived to the Airbnb in California, where the kids and husband were, at noon on Tuesday. By 1pm, I was listless and unsure of my role in this life. The kids needed teaching, it was the middle of a virtual school week for them, but I had my mom’s help. Decisions about housing, groceries, supplies needed deciding, but Robb was on top of it. There was no giant task before me, like there had been constantly for weeks, (months?, years?), and I felt lost. House and business-selling, loose end-tying, goodbying, so much needed to be done as we prepared to go…now that we were here…now what? Thousands of miles of desert, mountains, paradise and hell, with a path, with a purpose, and now my feet were where they were meant to land and…now what?
All this anxiety and energy I’d kept bubbling at just the right level to get us safely here during a pandemic, all the hundreds of decisions along the way, fretting, pushing, panicking, pushing, meditating, pushing, all the bouncing back to contingency plan three when the first few didn’t turn out…I’m buzzing with wait-for-the-next-problem-it’s-a’comin’ energy, a self-preservation state to keep me upright. Slushy, narrow, two-lane road on the side of a mountain? It’s fine. The moving truck will be a week late? It’s fine. Democracy under attack, our elected leaders might be held hostage? It’s fine. I’m numb from constant vigilance.
It took me a few days of seeing that the only option was to sag into this new life, for my taut wire to snap. Of course, it snapped all over my husband, because he’s my most trusted person. All of my shitty feelings that I don’t want to rain on the kids or my mom, come pouring out on him.
Yesterday, we’re driving, looking out the window at some of the world’s most beautiful bridges, beautiful ocean and mountains, all just simmering in sunshine, and he's saying, “We live here! We get to live here. We’re so lucky,” and I’m saying, “It’s too good to be true. Wait until it all falls apart. We’re doomed. Let’s not unpack.” When he looks at me in horror, because I’m a doom monster, I add, “But, sure, enjoy it for a minute…it’s fine.”
There’s comfort in living in dread, without hope for the best, just bracing for the bad. It suits my anxiety. But I don’t want that to be the director of my life for any longer than it has to be. I know I’m equipped to handle crisis when it comes, but I don’t think sitting rigid, waiting for it to land will prevent it- and it’s giving me neck pain. SO…I’m trying to get back to some semblence of healthy, peaceful, even nice to my family. I need to nudge hope and relief back to life. Day by day, the fatigue, jet lag, grief and unsettled feeling will break. And, my God, I cannot wait for Inauguration Day to come and go.
Then maybe it really will be fine.