carousels, cashews, candles and community
when i was little, my grandma and i used to take the car service to coney island to ride the carousel. i loved my time with my grandma so much that i kept to myself the constant anxiety in my tummy as we rode in a stranger's car, encountered sketchy men on the boardwalk, and rode the horses in a circle over and over again in the hot and sticky air. i never told her i was scared or that my tummy hurt, because i didn't want her to stop spending time with me. as far as i was concerned back then, my grandma was all that i had.
when she passed away, i was a freshman in college, so at that point my community primarily consisted of late-teen dumbasses like me. i remember someone at our dining hall table, upon hearing the news, responding with kind condolences but then "if my grandma died, i think i'd die." it was a really unhelpful thing to say, and i wish i had spoken up and said it at the time, but even on rollercoasters of extreme emotions - tragedy, celebration, whatever - i've always felt pressured to complete the ride gracefully and just appreciate any expression of condolences, congratulations, or whatever response was in order.
even these days, so many tragedies and celebrations later, i catch myself wondering if just living my life in complete solitude would be easier for everyone and also my tummy. but then i open my apartment door and there's a bag on the door knob with a plastic jug of cashews that my older neighbor occasionally left me as a gift.
the first time this happened, all she knew about me was that i was very good at carrying large cases of water upstairs. she left me a bottle of wine, not knowing i'm sober. she still doesn't know i'm sober - for some reason i feel bad about possibly making her feel bad for not reading my mind, because i'm a weirdo who constantly feels bad for not being able to read minds. these days, she knows that i have a computer she can use whenever her's isn't working, and that i make nice candles - i mean, i assume she likes the candle i made her lol. i love how she puts a gift tag on a snack box with her name, because it shows how thoughtful even a box of peanut butter crackers could be. i imagine she's such a loving grandma, but i don't know if she has grandkids and i'll never ask, as that could be a subject as sore as my no longer having a grandma is. her and i know very little about each other, but we know enough: we exist near each other and we're here if i'm hungry or her groceries are heavy.
i have been hungry a lot this month. my stomach has been doing loop-the-loops over the past couple of weeks for reasons of celebration, like my hair growing back and a huge career milestone, and of sadness and tragedy as i navigate chronic illness while the world outside my little home office escalates in cruelty and violence. work/life balance feels impossible when the life part sucks, and if it weren't for those cashews, i probably wouldn't have eaten much over the past few days.
i'm never really kind to myself, but i try hard to be to others. i know that the more i'm unkind to myself (or "kicking my own ass" as i put it to my therapist), the less energy i'll have to be kind to others. it's something i'm definitely trying to work on but the difficulties of navigating everything going on in the world makes it feel impossible sometimes. i guess that as i got older and more successful, trauma turned to survivor's guilt and it slaps me on my big fat vegetable ass at any moment of feeling good about myself.
the light for me in all of this darkness is knowing i have a community to take care of and to help take care of me. i cooked myself a nice meal today and took a long walk between thunderstorms. i took photos of my neighbors chickens that were eating a hanging cob of corn that looked like a penis, and my favorite bush of tiny pink flowers that i think are petite roses is in full bloom. a friend dm'd me today and said they miss my writing and i do too. i've got a bag of red onions for andy and i to pickle when he comes over, a new thing for both of us to enjoy together.