Friday, January 11, 2013

Sometimes All You Need is a Revelatory Bitch Slap.

Please check out my insanely organized cupboards.
After the house sells and I have nobody to impress anymore,
they'll never look like this again.

I had a bit of a revelation yesterday.

To be honest, I don't know if you can have a "bit" of a revelation. I wonder if that's like being a little pregnant, or slightly crazy.

At any rate, it's all thanks to my friend F (which is not short for "Fuck," in case you were wondering) who came over a couple of nights ago to help me do some deep cleaning before we put our house on the market.

uck is one of the most intelligent, dynamic and resourceful people I know. But she hasn't had an easy life. For a long while, she was a single mom to three living well below the poverty line. She finally found true love, and just two years ago married a man who also has three children of his own. Right now the couple is in school hoping to provide a better life for their family. They make due on very little, far less than most people I know. Everything is precariously budgeted down to the wire. It's not easy living that close to the edge all the time.

But if F has one big thing I've been lacking lately, it's joy and gratitude. Which is actually two things, but whatever. Quit judging me and go troll a sleep training debate or something. She knows her situation could be worse, she knows it could be better. Most importantly, she knows it will get better, and that's what keeps a smile on her face. I love her perspective, and I especially love that she gave me some. She's a breath of fresh air.

While I was organizing my cupboards and she was taking a cloth to my baseboards (which, by the way, are not grey but white. You learn something new every day - or at least when your friend cleans your baseboards once every five years), F and I got into why we were putting the house up for sale. I gave her a big, long explanation. I might as well have just pulled spreadsheets and psychological evaluations out of my ass and made a powerpoint presentation with them. I don't know which one of us I was trying to convince, honestly. I wasn't so much justifying the move as justifying why I was so stressed about it.

Know what she said?

"Well, you can look at it this way: At least you have a house to sell."

Boom, boom, shake the room. Epiphany.

Or revelation. Yes, that's what I said it was at the beginning. Did I not send you off to fight with strangers on the internet instead of poking holes in my writing? Somewhere, there's a conversation on vaccines just waiting for your input.

I don't know why that particular thing said by that particular person hit me the way it did, but did I ever need it. I was properly bitch slapped awake. It seems I was so buried in worry that I couldn't see the caffeine for the coffee.

Are we better off if we move? Probably, yes. But are we in dire straights if we stay? No, far from it.

I left home at 16. For a few months, I bounced between friends' couches, rooming houses, and even a couple of apartment building stairwells. I spent a few weeks at the local YM/YWCA. Some of the elevator numbers were burned out, but I could tell it was my floor when the doors opened to reveal a stain that looked suspiciously like a old blood. I owned very little, counted every penny. I went school hungry many times.

Then I met Geekster, who obviously fell in love with me quickly and easily. The first apartment we rented was above some drug dealers, who controlled our shared hallway with a massive, angry rottweiler. To get out of our apartment, we sometimes had to walk down the slippery fire escape in the back. We broke our lease and moved at 6 a.m. when they were stoned and sound asleep.

The house we brought baby Intrepid home to had cockroaches. Try finding that out at eight months pregnant when you flip the light on in your kitchen and notice them mating on the ceiling.

The house after that? The neighbourhood was pretty! Pretty awful. We had our junky old car stolen and our shed broken into, and sirens and arrests were a regular occurrence. The neighbour's kids threw dog shit at our front door - at the request of their grandmother.

My grandchildren will likely not hear very much about how great things were in the good ol' days, but I guarantee my stories won't be boring until I tell them for the seventeenth time.

I'll never forget the day we bought our first home and left all the dog shit slinging behind. But I've always been a person who tries to remember where she came from. I knew that if I lost sight of that, I'd have no point of reference anymore.

And guess what happened this week?


"F uck, you're so right," I declared as the lights came on in the sensible part of my brain (it's very small, worn and pocked, but still there.)

Those nights where I used to lie awake in my room at the YM/YWCA listening to the odd person turn the door handle to see if it was locked, I would tell myself, "it won't always be this way," and imagine my future life. That life is pretty much what I have right now. We live in a safe home in a safe neighbourhood. My now non-imaginary-but-far-less-behaved children are happy and their bellies are full. What more could I ask for?

We're going to try and move for many good reasons, but if we can't right now it's not the end of the world by any means. If the house doesn't sell for what we need it to, we'll stay here for a while. But all this stress? This sickening worry that paralyzed me for days? That's not going to happen anymore. What a waste of energy.

I woke up yesterday feeling so much better about things. I smiled a lot, laughed some, took notice of all the good stuff around me. What's changed? Not a damn thing other than my perspective. Life will do what it does and I have little control over it, but happiness and gratitude are mine any time I want them.

"Thanks, F uck," I said, wholeheartedly. "I needed that."

And I did.