Sometimes things go ka-plooey in your face, and you think (foolish, foolish you!) ‘Well, at least it can’t get any worse.’
Even I’ve made that mistake, and I’m not a big fan of positive thinking. I hate, hate, hate when my friends say ‘don’t worry, I’m sure it will all work out.’ Sometimes it just doesn’t. If your expectations are low, then at least you don’t have as far to fall when the next pile of crap hits the fan or heads your way down the creek.
In fact, if something good happens, I’m pretty sure there’s a big pile of more of the stinky stuff just waiting for me to fall into, face first.
Case in point. I stupidly thought I was coming down to Savannah to spend time with the father I never had a chance to get to know while I was growing up. I wanted to do this before it was too late, whether or not it was cancer, whether it looked like he had a good twenty years left, or six months. It was time, and I loved Savannah when I was here before.
What better way to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of my big solo trip to Europe? I don’t have much interest in celebrating those round number birthdays like they are significant stepping stones. I’d rather honour a challenge I gave myself ten years ago, and faced down every step of the way. It was a great growing experience.
I think. I don’t know if I really changed, but I did it, so what the heck? I had been thinking another big bike trip, maybe across Canada, maybe the Mongol Ralley. Something cool.
Then I got the call from my father, there were calls and e-mails back and forth with my half-sister, my father’s ex-girlfriend who had cancelled her vacation to be here when he went into surgery, and the decision was made. This would be an adventure, a real growth experience.
Next time I’m fucking staying home. I won’t go into the bad things that happened on the Europe trip, it’s not something I talk about, but I survived, and I’m glad I did it, but enough is enough. I can have a bad time at home, with my own walls surrounding me, my bed, my books, my friends if I need someone to take me out for a drink and a shoulder to cry on.
But this one has just gone from bad to worse. First it was verbal, with him telling me to go home. I’d tiptoe around him, try to keep out of the way, we’d work it out. But then my father physically attacked me last Saturday. Since then, I’ve been all twisted up internally, nervous that w if I go out, when I get home something bad will have happened, especially if my dog was here alone, since that was what set him off each of the other times.
The worst of it is the shock, though. That someone who is supposed to care about you, love you unconditionally, would do this. Why does it happen? There are no excuses anymore. I made them when it was verbal (he’s frustrated and ill from the treatments, all he wants to do is his art but he can’t), but when someone holds a table over your head and threatens to bash it in, has thrown you around, there is nothing more to say.
There is no way of understanding what is happening, because no matter how much I get in his way, how much he’s used to being on his own, how sick and frustrated he is, there is no understanding how it can happen. And how I couldn’t fight back well enough.
To make it worse, I don’t drive, so even if I wanted to haul us back home, I need someone else to do the major hauling.
But then, this morning while I was waiting for him to be picked up for his treatments, a sheriff’s car pulled up and I was served with a writ of dispossession. Something like that. He is having me evicted. In a week. No job or money. No friends. Me, my dog, my stuff, thrown into the street in a week. Or I can file with the courts to fight it. And how swell would my already crap life here be.
I’m not sure why I am writing this here, to nobody in particular. Who wants to read this? Why am I not turning tail and heading home?
I actually like it here. At home I feel isolated because my friends are in the same city, but I rarely see any of them, they have their own lives, maybe I’m no fun, I probably don’t make enough effort, I know I don’t open up easily. I don’t really know, but my life is not an episode of ‘Friends.’ I am not surrounded by support, and I realise it is as much my own fault, more so, than anyone else’s. Here if I am isolated, it is for a reason. I don’t know anyone. It feels less isolating in a way.
At least, until you really, really need someone in your corner. I’ve never been able to ask for help, even when it got bad, never really sure I could count on it from anyone.
But why am I staying here?
Well, I also got this writing fellow position, and I want to follow through. I don’t back down easily, and maybe I just don’t know when I’m beat and should run.
Back home, this fellow position was exactly what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know if it existed, and figured no-one would choose me to do it if it did. Yes, serious self-confidence issues. And start it, if one didn’t exist? Not a chance. You know the drill, self-confidence, blah, blah, blah. Boring damn song, who wants to hear it once, let alone again and again?
What is the fellowship? It is an after-school program teaching kids creative writing. At the end of the semester, we work with them on the pieces they most want to publish, and put together a book. There is a reading after that. How amazing is that? I would do it for free, anytime. And it is a volunteer position, so no issue there.
How could I run away from that? It is an opportunity that I may only have once. If I make it. If I go through with this, it will give me the confidence and background to either apply for something similar back home if it exists, or try to start my own. It would be a stepping stone to something gratifying.
Something at which I can succeed. I don’t feel that I have given myself the opportunity to succeed at anything much in my life, too afraid, scared of failure and rejection. When the freelance editor from the Toronto Star, for whom I’d written some articles, wanted to meet me, an opportunity to do more work for him, I was too shy. What a loss. When my author mentor wanted to meet me when he came to Toronto, guess what? I was too shy. This was a man who helped me create what was probably the best writing of my life. I could have thanked him in person. But I hid.
I want the opportunity to help these kids love writing as much as I do, let it help them through difficult times, learn to express themselves with joy.
Never mind, here I finally have the chance to try living somewhere else. I have always wanted to do that. try to build a life all over again, start with my own wits and guts. Even when you’re scared, when pressed you can. I wanted to see that I can, too.
There are several other things complicating this, of course. It would never be so simple.
Anyway, I don’t know why I am sending this out there. I have tried to explain to the couple of people who know something about what has happened why I want to stay, and now I send it into the ether. I’m waiting for the next lousy thing to happen to me, but am still hopeful that somehow I can make this work. I am hoping that this writ, on which he said I owed him money (he admitted he couldn’t think of any other reason to put for eviction), is not going to adversely affect my criminal check to work with these kids. It is the only thing I want right now, other than a place where I can feel safe and get down off my poor tiptoes.