Friday, September 3, 2010

Imitation of Life

Day 284: Speeding Motorcycle

Lately I feel like I am leading two lives. There is my public life, which sounds really good on paper, Facebook or during short phone conversations with family members. I made this big move to San Diego, I have weathered the difficult beginnings here at this house, I am semi-retired, hanging out at the beach a few afternoons a week, going to yoga three days a week, getting the boys involved here in our new community, and making time to write. Wow, now I am impressed with myself.

While all those things are true, the reality is that being in early retirement just means that I have been unemployed for a couple of months. I'm not drawing on my retirement, so I don't have any extra money coming in. In fact, I have no money coming in, and way to much going out. I have my home in San Francisco, that is still on the market without one single offer. And while from a distance it may appear that I am out really enjoying life to it's fullest, the majority of the time I am just up here in my bedroom, writing, or staring out the window.

I tell you, I wouldn't change any of the choices I have made for an instance. Yes, I walked away from a very well paid job, and will now begin one that pays half of what I used to make, but I don't really care. My focus in not on being as financially well off, or stable, as I used to be. In fact, there is no way I can be. I have spent the past three years with Michael and I not really working our full schedules, and making a lot less than our salaries would suggest. I made that transition from two salaries to one a long time ago. Now I have gone from one salary to none, and thanks to Michael, have had a cushion for this transition. But none of this is the flip side to my life.

The other life that I am referring to is the one that I share with all of you. This life here on my blog, and through our communication, is far more satisfying, and more real than the rest. Is that sad? I'm not really sure.

What I am talking about is the side to grief that most people either don't realize is there, or don't bring up with me. It's funny, I moved here partly to be closer to my family, but I don't think they see, or I show them, anything different than when I lived 400 miles away. And it's not like I see them, or friends, very often, but maybe this is just how things are, and it's more about me getting used to it.

This chasm that has developed in my life is actually okay for the most part. Given the circumstances of my life, I do like it. I am happy with the choices I am making, and feel good about the direction it is going, even when it feels like it isn't going anywhere. It's just that I am going through a lot.

This whole blogging thing is kind of strange. I never really know who is reading it. Well, I know those who comment, but other than them I don't. I also know that there is an ever increasing number of people who visit my blog each day, so I never feel completely alone. It's quite a blessing. Yet with family and friends around here, where ever 'here' happens to be, I really have no idea who knows what.

My life is an open book, which you have to open to read. I don't really expect everyone to read it everyday, or to even keep up with it. But I tell you, I have been tempted to throw in some completely outrageous things just to see if anyone around here is in the loop. Up till now I have made the art of my writing imitate my life. But wouldn't it be great if we could make our life imitate art? I could create a whole new world here on the page, then let my life follow suit.

Maybe that is what I am doing.


  1. i sometimes do not think there are any words, any way of conveying what this kind of loss does to us. over the passing of time, it wiggles a little, maybe enough for us to believe it will get better, but then a wave passes over and knocks out the lights. i should not speak for "us." just me.

    unless you find one person out there in actual real life who can look you in the eye, who has been exactly there and knows the pain that 11 months brings, 17 months, 20, 26 months; it is hard to get across one personal perspective.

    i think you should shake things up with a totally random posting. have a few sips of your favorite beverage that loosens inhibitions and go for it. who knows? it may be the hysterical rant that you need to let off some steam you do not even know is under pressure.

    as always, know very much that i wish you peace.

  2. As is so often the case with your posts, you've written about a number of feelings that are quite familiar to me -- the feeling of living life as two separate strands -- the public and the private me. Having been a blogger for much longer than I've been a widow, I've been aware of living in something of a dichotomy for the past four years. What was actually difficult for me was to make the leap from writing about my day to day life before (at the old Burning Silo blog) and then moving to my life after. It felt so damned weird to be carrying on as a blogger after my life seemed to have come crashing down around me. I actually stopped blogging for a little while, and then started again with a different blog that wasn't really at all like the previous one. I wondered if the readers of the old blog would follow me over to the new one which was more focused on carrying on alone. To my amazement, many of them did and continue to follow, along with the unseen readers. I have to say that the people I have met online or through my blog have been some of my most steadfast friends through the hard times during Don's illness. They were the ones who sent emails daily to see how things were going. I've met some of my online friends -- have always been quite receptive to that -- and all of them have enriched my life in some or many ways. Oddly enough, it has been my real life friends and family who, for the most part, have not been there for me. I still don't have a handle on the dynamics of why that should be, but it just is. Oddly, it is the new people I meet IRL who can seem to handle knowing who I am and my past life. Perhaps it is because they never met Don and it is not so painful to them to have to acknowledge and reconcile the before me and the after me. I don't know, but that's one theory I toss around when I get to pondering over how my life seems now.

    Just over a year ago, I was living with some of the uncertainties that you're experiencing - a house for sale - a high burn rate of cash due to a bunch of crazy circumstances - a much reduced income for a couple of years due to Don's illness and me having to be a caregiver. Sometimes I would start thinking about the whole thing and it could make me upset, but I just pushed on, knowing that I was making the right choices and that, at some point, things would be okay. Back when Don died, I had quickly realized that trying to maintain the status quo would actually sink me faster than almost anything else I could come up with for a future, so there are no regrets now.

    As for your blog and your writing, it is your creative outlet. You should do whatever you feel like doing - or create a second blog if you feel inclined. I have several - one for found poetry and others for other purposes. But I think your readers here could accept just about anything, so don't be too shy. I've found that readers at my blog can deal with just about anything, including a very long post about the troubles of getting a 3G iPad up and running. (o:

    Carry on.

  3. I haven't told anyone here about my own blog, mostly because I do not want to be "cheerled." The thought of "chin up" comments just makes me shudder. But then, I can be quite cranky. Plus, there are all the judgments and discussions I imagine going on if some local people read my posts, and that is a sore spot that does not need pushing.

    I do feel that being in this community, anything and everything is going to be met with goodness and support, and nobody trying to change anything. I think it would be very entertaining, in a sociological study sort of way, to lob something crazy into the ethers and see who reacts. I mean, you could also go more subtle about it and post: hey! Family! Do you read this? If you do, text or email the words KROI BGCHL to me within the next two days. If I don't hear from you, I will assume you don't read this blog, and forgive you for not acknowledging my reality.
    ps Bev - found poetry is one of my favorites. I used to underline random words in the new york times to make poems for matt to find when he went to the coffee shop.

  4. Just to remind us all that we never know who our postings will reach or the impact they'll have. My 16-year-old looked over my shoulder and was very moved by the contrasting photos at the beginning. "Cool," he remarked and studied them for some time.

  5. You know I do have a second blog, but haven't really done anything with it. It was supposed to be for writing other thoughts that were not grief related. Mostly me trying to be philosophical. I also have my other writing project that I kind of put by to the side, not for any other reason other than I am just feeling brain dead these days. I waste so much time. Oh well.

  6. Don't worry too much about feeling brain dead or about wasting time. It seems that way, but there's a lot going on inside your head right now. I remember thinking these very thoughts last year. At some point this will change.

  7. "But wouldn't it be great if we could make our life imitate art? I could create a whole new world here on the page, then let my life follow suit."

    LOVE this.

    I had an interesting experience a couple weeks back when I was in L.A. for a few days and met a friend for lunch. She started our conversation by saying that she'd caught up on my blog in the last few days. Then, "So, tell me about your travels. How have you been?" And I realized that it was all in the blog... so I didn't know what to tell her that wouldn't just be repeating what she'd read.