Sunday, April 24, 2016

Post-Vacation Blues

Re-entry is hard.

Really hard.

I got home and saw the mountain of a month of mail – junk, magazines, bills, newsletters. I sagged under the weight of it, both literally and spiritually. The junk is easy; it’s the “do-something-with” pile that overwhelms me. The renew-my-membership or this-is-your-new-PIN or please-switch-to-automatic-deposit or look-through-the-catalog-because-the-30-year-old-sheets-finally-died. Or the simple but overwhelming pile: “read me.”
 And I’m not even talking about doing the taxes.

Then I looked around the house. Tim had cleaned, vacuumed, swept, laundered, put away for the summer, all that. He was great. (It may have all happened the day before I returned; I’ll never know.) But there were still things I needed to do. Chores, maintenance, obligations.

Not to mention confronting the need to GET IN SHAPE for the Chilkoot Trail hike.

There was the thrill of the Defiant Requiem, but then…. My life felt like the mountainous pile of mail: it had to be endured, chipped away at, slogged through.

Someone said the problem with not working is that you never have “time off.” No weekends; no 5:30, it’s over. But in New York City, I had Vacation. Real vacation. From chores, commitments, mail. All I had were interesting things waiting for me to pursue them, enjoy them, plan more of them.

Remember when getting mail was a treat? You’d race to the mailbox to get there first? When I was about ten, I wrote to every airline, asking for their calendar. I got spectacular calendars with glorious pictures from around the world; I lived for the mailman.

Same with the phone. It rang and you were electrified with possibility.

Now? Oh, yuck.

In New York City, I lived with the six shirts I brought, the three pairs of pants. Instead of all my paints and art supplies, I had nine colors, three pencils. Dinner was two bowls, a fork and spoon, one glass. Back home, I have a closet and a dresser of clothes, a kitchen of dishes and equipment, a pantry of supplies. An office of paper, bookshelves of books.

I wanted to fire bomb my house.

I think of myself as a high-functioning depressive. I don’t lie around in bed; I do get moving. But it doesn’t seem to influence my mood. Recognizing that fire bombing the house was a tad extreme, I started Getting Rid of Stuff. I have moved out planters, jars, knick-knacks. I am eying everything with venom: “You are crowding my life: Get Out!”
But that’s not it really.

The “it really” is my life. This Third Third. I still need a theme, an overarching purpose, and I don’t know what that is. New York City proved I could have fun, but when I saw Laura Poitras’ Astro Noise exhibit – just one example – and the life work she’s done on exposing injustice, torture, and surveillance, I think, “That’s valuable, worthwhile, important.”

New York confirmed that I’m a very good “appreciator.” I really, really appreciate all the terrific things other people do.

But right now, the biggest thing crowding my life is me.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to drown you in the Black Hole. But I am still trying to figure all this out, this Third Third business. (Someone once told me he’d never heard the expression “figure it out” so much till he met me….)

Okay, the mood has broken: I’m back.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Welcome home, Barbara! I love the way you put things. Let's go for a walk/run/hike!

  3. Can we consider that being an "appreciator" is also valuable, worthwhile, and important? :-)

  4. I think you have already done an awful lot that is valuable, worthwhile, and important. For example, the jobs you have chosen. The Mitzvah Mall. Raising a daughter who will also do valuable, worthwhile, and important things.


Sharing Button