The sound of your voice

One of my dearest friends called me last night. I almost always let it go to voice-mail, but decided it has been far too long since I had spoken with her.

“Hello?” I said quietly. (In this day of Caller ID, why haven’t we given up the question mark?)

A short 5 second pause, and then, “I love you!”

My instant response was I love you, too.

Picture the Grinch’s heart growing by a few sizes.

She has a way of staying calm, even in the worst of situations. She accepts things with an attitude I am still struggling to achieve. She has her own health problems, yet somehow finds the energy to raise 4 kids and work full-time. She is happy with her life now, in spite of it all.

We had lost each other for a time, but after being reunited again, took over right where we left off.

She had been my neighbor back in the days of my ex. I can’t recall just how many times I gave her the nod to call the cops through her screen window that overlooked my yard. She knew him, and loathed him. We have that bond, both of us living a miserable life at the same time, within earshot. We both agree it seems like a lifetime ago.

We discussed how ones life can be broken into segments, or if you are feeling theatrical, acts. Mine are broken down into 4, with the 5th starting now.

 My friend hates texting and chatting online, saying that it is too impersonal. She never gives up calling me, and leaves me cute voice messages every time I don’t answer.

The thing about El, she just lets you talk. I don’t have to muster fake bravado, or feel like I am monopolizing the conversation. It’s easy to be totally honest with her, without the fear that she will feel sorry for me.

“I’m not going to blow rainbows up your ass, it’s bad,”  I said.

“Aw, why not? It’s okay, I know.”

I usually boycott phone calls, my mother being the only exception. I have such a low voice, I find myself repeating half of what I say. I hate awkward pauses, and then I end up blithering like an idiot to fill them in.

But last night, I realized that I needed to hear her voice. I felt lighter after we hung up, with promises that I would call her anytime I needed to complain. She was all ears. I had missed her laugh, and her humor, as warped, if not more, than my own.

Maybe I need to answer more often.

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Oh, joyful me..

I have been thinking about the last time I felt joyful.

Joy…noun : the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.

To be honest, I don’t feel much euphoria these days. I suppose when I have just finished medicating myself, when the pain is at bay, I will experience a feeling of well-being for a short time. I can pretend that I am perfectly normal again. I long for that with every fiber of my being.

It’s a mock feeling of joyousness, but I take it gratefully.

I am aware of my blessings. I was truly thankful just the other day, as a matter of fact. My family is all still here with me. We had oodles of food. Shelter over my head, a warm bed to sleep in. Friends who love and support me. A loyal dog, who tries to keep me from leaving the house by sitting on my feet while I try to put on my socks and shoes.

The more I think about it, the more I am certain that experiencing pure joy becomes harder the older we get. Most of us become jaded and bitter, because let’s be realistic here; life’s a bitch. Each trauma and tragedy we endure takes us farther away from great delight.

Yet…

I am poor as a church-mouse, but rich in love.

I am fragile and broken, but trying to mend.

I have people willing to help me sew.

I wake up each day now with the will to live.

I get to immerse myself on a daily basis with my first love, writing.

My daughter is a beautiful young adult.

I still know all the words to “Joy to the world.”

Maybe it is harder to find it, but not impossible.

Quirks, I’ve had a few…

When I was a kid, I was deathly afraid of clouds.

“Looking for Mer? She’s in padded room 9.”

We had a bit of stormy weather one fateful evening, that made me run to our basement, even though it was just a tornado watch. All I knew was that I was scared out of my mind that we were all going to die.

Besides, I was just doing what the weatherman told me to do.

I grabbed the dog and went downstairs, begging my family to join me. They told me to come back, we were not in any immediate danger, but I stuck it out stubbornly.

Finally, my dog cut out on me. I tell myself to this day that it was just because he had to poop.

 I obsessively started watching the sky. If I didn’t see white and puffy, I would start to freak. As soon as it even looked like rain, I started becoming anxious. This happened in school, and they even tried moving me away from the windows. It didn’t work.

Realistically, I knew that not every time it rained was it a disaster in the making. The sane, rational side was always butting heads with my irrational fears. Something always told me that I must remain hyper vigilant at all times.

After all, I was just doing what my mind told me to do.

I was a OCD chameleon, changing my quirks constantly. I have written about my childhood fear of Tiny Tim (shudder) and not wanting to let my father out of my sight. It fed off of whatever scared me, at that time in my life.

A freaky man singing in a high falsetto about tiptoeing in the fucking tulips is one thing, but having a mini break down if my father was 5 minutes late from work was quite the serious issue.

(This should have been where I inserted a picture of Tiny Tim. Google him if you want.)

The small ones are funny to me now, like how I had to always wear a pair of unicorn earrings that I associated with my dad, or that I eat my food in uniform bites. My daughter teases me about this when I have one bite of burger and one fry left.

I can’t fathom how she can eat all of her fries first.

We all have quirks, and if we are lucky they don’t interfere with our lives all that much. I can deal with my strategic eating pattern, because it isn’t harming anybody. Thankfully, my mother had the foresight to send me to therapists at a young age. I learned to understand the difference between harmless and harmful anxieties.

I wonder if maybe it was a way to prepare me for my present situation, otherwise the emergency room would know me by name.