I tear open the candy bar wrapper and take a little bite. Just one bite I tell myself. Just enough to shove down the tears.
The most perfectly fit couple is getting into the car next to me. They have on workout gear and a bag of new golf balls. They are smiling and he opens the door for her. I think they kiss, but I look away before seeing it.
Shame and jealousy overwhelms me. My face burns as I sink down from the judgment I feel through the glass.
I wait until they drive away and then I eat the whole thing.
I don’t even taste it.
The tears come again.
I hear voices and dry my eyes. A woman is ushering a few kids into the van parked next to me. The exact same van as mine. Grey. Plain. Completely practical. The official vehicle of women like us. She makes eye contact with me and I know she sees the tears and the chocolate pooled in the corners of my mouth. She looks away.
I do too.
I keep having these epiphanies, but they fade. Like a dog being fooled by the same trick of throwing the ball, I keep running ahead just in case it was really thrown this time.
Next time I’ll get it.
This part of my life is boring. The monotony and responsibility of being an adult is such a huge letdown from the optimism and hope of youth.
If I am to believe Facebook, I’m alone in this feeling. Yet I know better. I know the truth.
All those memes about changing perspective and living in the moment aren’t just for my benefit. All those pictures of our kids that we post, the one’s where they are smiling and happy, aren’t just to make others think we are so great.
We are all trying to shift focus. Stay in the light. Find the good.
It’s not a lie.
It’s just not the whole truth. It’s a version of the truth we all tell ourselves.
It’s the boring part of the book you skim, the endless paragraphs of bullshit self-reflection.
It’s the part when the main character wallows in self-pity until you want to punch her in the face and tell her to wake up.
Yeah. That’s where I am.
My story isn’t over.
I think about Abdi, this Somali refugee I heard about on This American Life. He won the U.S. visa lottery, but still had to go through some ridiculous shit to make his American dream come true. He had some real reasons to cry and shove sugar into his veins. Yet his is a story of endurance and patience.
I think about my mom. A few weeks ago, I hugged her goodbye and put her on a plane destined to meet the daughter she gave up for adoption before I was born. She has waited decades for this time, the pain never really going away, and now she got to hug her and look into her eyes and tell her all the things she’d whispered quietly to herself.
I think about waking up in a tent and having my two children climb into my sleeping bag with me to get warm. They giggle and jostle closer, elbows and knees and mangled hair and wet kisses. They love this broken-down woman they call mamma and don’t care she is extra squishy and cries quickly.
I think about this cashier at the grocery store by my home. She is always smiling. Always. Not the fake “can’t wait to get of her look” either. Real. Genuine. I ask her how she is and she always says, “Blessed, thank you.” She means it. It’s not bullshit. I’ve seen customers be rude and throw fits. She handles herself with grace and ease.
I think about this place I’m stuck in. This self-imposed crazy whirlpool spinning me around until I’m disorientated and I want to just sink down in defeat. Happy. Sad. Up. Down. Defeated. Motivated.
Here I am. Right here. I’m at the part of the story when the character has to decide to do something. The time has come for action.
My story isn’t over.