A friend and I were just talking about the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, sampling two sets of adjectives any 12-stepper knows: "happy, joyous and free" and "restless, irritable and discontent". We agreed that we're stuck on ad in the latter. I'm writing this post, once again, in some effort to have done something writerly with a day that feels, with an hour of it to go, wasted and certainly itchy with wishing for anything except reality.
I just came back from walking dogs and had sundry thoughts out on the muggy streets. They are mostly empty except for tourists, and the tourists were oohing and ahhing and saying they'd want to live in the Heights. One young girl said, "I'll buy you a place." The dogs and I happened to be walking toward the mansion where Turman Capote rented the garden apartment and wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood. It just sold for $12 million and I was ever so tempted, if only lassitude and ennui hadn't gagged me, to tell them what it would cost to live here. What a snotty thing to even think but how perfect for someone who has an ungreedy landlord and lives in a Bat Cave. I can't afford to live here.
I remembered the two summers I was both thinnest and employed by the nastiest woman I've ever met. I would trek off to Starbucks with a manuscript (these were the days of being an agent) and read in their air conditioning, then go to Saturday night Mass and wander around in a cloud of discontent. I was thin -- I was making a good living -- I was funny, had great clothes, and was nice and I was wandering around the neighborhood wishing I had a boyfriend or any friend, mystified that I did not. I felt I deserved one after losing so much weight. In fact I felt owed all over the place -- the pretty clothes that I couldn't really afford, the shiny new job working for Satan, weekly manicures, a big social life, and having a facial and massage once a month. I didn't seethe with this sense of entitlement; I was disappointed. I was disappointed because I didn't feel I deserved any of that stuff.
Eventually I would drop my manuscript off at home and go have dinner by myself. Alone but among other people.
I was shaking my head at the memory tonight. I'm almost a month abstinent and commented to my sponsor that I don't feel I've lost weight. If I put a battery in my scale, I would kneeling in prayer before it every day, so I can only go on how clothes fit and comments, the latter of which which usually fuck me up. Better to rely on clothes because a shirt that fits is an 8-hour satisfaction but doesn't lead either to complacency, self-consciousness or boasting. I did that the first time around. If a decade of struggle and depression have taught me anything, it's that I have a fragile and manic-depressive ego. I hope I haven't jinxed myself even by writing about being abstinent.
I think I was wishing I was thin tonight. For a moment it promised an answer to my restlessness. For once I stepped back into those days of being thin on a three-day weekend when one tends to feel more an outsider than usual and I knew it would not make me happy. Cooler, more energetic: yes. But happy or hopeful: not a chance.
In a sense, then, big deal if I have or haven't lost weight. And so what if I am such a toxic brew of cravings, disappointment, perspiration, loneliness, self-pity, irritability and bitterness. I don't have much else to do and I did not speak to the gregarious out-of-towners. I'm tempted to end this by saying I have the air conditioner on and sugar-free lemonade powder in the kitchen, so life isn't really so bad.
But you know? Sometimes life sucks. And the sole positive thing I can say about that is that if you think life is sucky because you're fatter/older/poorer/lonelier, it was probably sucky when you were thinner/younger/richer/engaged. At the same time, however, if you feel like it's all a bunch of waiting for nothing, you're neither wrong nor alone.
P.S. I was also thinking about words that should be banned from the language. "Scent" is one of them, ergo the roses smelled -- "odor" is almost as bad. Same for feral, creosote and bespoke.