Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life in Exile

I was compelled the other day, by the birth of a friend's baby, to write once again about my feelings living here in the desert. "My life in exile", as I think about it, though my husband despises this phrase, or "my beautiful prison", equally despised by husband, of equal measure amusing to my sister.

I have long thought ('mused' sounds too whimsical for a practice that is normally for me a downer but that is actually a more correct characterization of what I do - thought implies direction, a move, but in the musings about my situation there is no logical resulting action) of living out here, in this desert, as a sort of undefined sentence. It makes me feel sad, angry, humble, extremely difficult to get along with, and at times (way too many, in fact) lethargic - the lethargy, I assume, of a prisoner marking the end of the first decade of a, say, thirty year confinement. Sometimes I feel all those things at once, sometimes back to back in a (for my husband especially and no doubt too for my bewildered children) confusing and irritating string of nebulously-connected-to-any-real-event bad moods. That can last... and last and last for... I dare not say for how long lest social services or my ex-therapist come with the men in white with the funny jacket to sweep me off to somewhere I can be safe. But don't worry, these are mostly times of implosion, and less often, a lashing out at my husband.

No solace there, however.

I know that for my husband this is a done deal, that I'm just engaging in post-mortem equine abuse at this point. But is there any satisfaction for a difficult situation you just can't get out of? Why can't I move on, in fact? I have often wondered what is wrong with me. "Beautiful prison" is only funny because of the kernel of truth it holds. I could barely hope to have landed in a more picturesque place than the valley that embraces Palm Springs, California. Surrounded by rugged, gorgeously light-changed mountains, living in a well run, ecologically friendly city. Kids attending what is now officially one of the best elementary schools in the entire state and the best in our region. So, really, what the hell is my problem?

But I can sooner stop fussing about my predicament than I might, realistically, pack up and move back to my chosen city. I am, for all intents and purposes, stuck.

I have written myself out of some lousy moods before - notably I wrote a novel whilst living here with two toddlers, two cats, not enough money and an alternately always working or underworked underfoot husband in an 800 square foot apartment. I figured it was time to take this exile-hood of mine head on and write about it. It's time, if not to somehow write it away, then to at least put a finger on it, open the curtain and get this thing to rear its ugly head at me. Then, maybe at the very least, I can replace some of the anger and lethargy with amusement.

So, back to this baby that was just born of a friend of mine. I wrote in my journal, "I feel viscerally all the milestones, big and small, I've missed because of my proximity so far flung - the firsts, the births, the heartaches that couldn't be shared in person over a glass of wine but had to suffice over emails, MySpace (yes, I've been gone that long) and Facebook. The friendships I left were only 'off to a good start'. Foundations laid, common experiences shared and the establishment of mutual affections made." But not yet set in stone. So I am not a 'best friend' or someone to 'make sure to get out to visit', but that friend who lives in Palm Springs that is mildly concerned, amusing and/or interested and/or interesting. In short, what I get to share are the neat and tidy formalities of a well wishes cards. Electronic or handwritten and stamped, they are still, necessarily the same finite, detached sentiments. I don't get to get in there, down in the muck of regular life with the people whom I consider my friends. I am peripheral and thus extraneous.

Which, feeling this way, is at least a step up from feeling unwanted. Isolation can do that to you. So, well, that's progress.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally need to hook you up with some of my clients who live in ugly prison. They may hold the key to adjustment. Or the recipie for baking a key into a cake.

By the way, I'm signing I'm as annonynous cuz I'm too lazy to create a password. You know who I am!