If there's anything I have learned in my many years of struggling to be okay in this world, it is to allow wildly conflicting emotions to share space.
In past incarnations, I would feel I had to choose whether I felt happy or sad, smart or stupid, joyful or discouraged, etc. and it would cause me true emotional discomfort if contrasting feelings surfaced together-- it was an adolescent, black/white mindset that I carried well into adulthood.
I share this with you this morning as I am definitely in one of my torn states and what is a blog for if not to hack down the emotional kudzu with a machete, hmm?
So here we go-- The fact is, I don't like San Francisco.
I can appreciate it and admire it, but there is no deep soul passion connection that I get in other locales where simply breathing the air sets my heart on fire.
I want to like it, and am rather dogged by the feeling that I should like it, but have had to come to grips with the fact that I really don't. Worse, it kind of repels me. Which makes me feel badly because there are people I love who LOVE this city and so somehow, I feel guilty/badly/wrong<-- take your pick, some kind of not good sensation like my not reveling in something that someone I care about loves makes me love them less-- or something.
I know! We have a full-blown case of FIRST WORLD WOES going on here at EZcure4insommnia.com, don't we?
(Well-- either I write about it, or I post pretty pictures of flowers and feel disconnected from you all-- and I don't LIKE feeling disconnected. I crave connection and undertanding, at the very least with myself).
So, why would I go to the trouble and expense to spend time in a city that I know I don't like? For this kid.
This is Lauren. She of the apartment therapy magic. She of the hours upon hours upon days upon days of scraping, painting, decorating help. And, as some of you may recall-- she of the fragile emotional sensitive being-ness. Yes, that was her freshman year in college and now she is headed up to the dias to collect her diploma in psychology and Spanish.
When we were together in December, she had expressed a desire to go west after college, specifically, she thought she would love to live in San Francisco. Knowing her as I do, knowing how hard it can be in this world to take actions on deep-seated dreams-- I said, well-- let's go check it out and see if you really do want to live there. So, as a graduation gift to her-- we are out here this week on her Spring Break to explore different neighborhoods and meet up with the sweetest squammies ever who are all taking time out of their busy lives to meet with us and give perspective to Lauren on this, their beloved city.
I know so much of this is all about me-- how utterly lost and overwhelmed I was coming out of college, with absolutely no one in my life who could offer me a hand to get on my feet in the way that I needed and find my way and how awful and dark those years in my life were. So much of my desire to help Lauren is that I see her struggling with body image, putting too much pressure on herself, physical unwellness due to anxiety and stress and the resulting collapse into "nothingness," into the land of "no feeling."
Yesterday we walked 15 miles.
People, you all know I am a walker-- I walk, every day. But yesterday? There were HOLES in the heels of my HIKING socks when we got home. To say we were a bit sore, tired and off our game would be correct.
We weren't hungry and didn't want to go out for food, but it was only 6pm and too early for bed-- so we were in this weird limbo land, trying to find a way of settling into the evening, but it wasn't shaping up.
So I spiraled into a bit of blues, thinking everything was all wrong and off-- and why weren't we having FUN? And why was I such a loser that I wasn't FUN to be with? What a lousy boring old aunt she is stuck with, etc.
But then, the best thing happened-- just as it did last December (and pretty much every time Lauren and I get together and allow things to unfold in their own time and place). We just sat on the sofas, little fire going in the fireplace, and got quiet and let stuff surface. And, whoa baby, did stuff surface! What emotional worlds we all carry within us when we slow down enough to access them.
I will admit-- one of my recent obsessions has been with this book-- and so we used this simple technique and man, let the healing begin.
So much clarity, so much lightness-- nothing really changed, but just as scientists have established-- the simple act of observation changes that which you observe.
It was nearly midnight when we fell into bed-- exhausted and happy from so much crying, so much talking.
This wasn't really the image I had of our trip here-- I imagined restaurants! clubs! dancing! shopping! museums! oh the fun! oh the cool hipness of it all! -- but I think instead, we got to experience an even greater luxury than some opulent hotel bar serving up cocktails in tulip-shaped glasses.
And I like to think that we found a safe place, a safe haven that Lauren can carry with her always-- no matter where she ends up living after college.
So thank you San Francisco-- I'm not leaving my heart here, but I sure appreciate you busting it open.