Food is more than comfort. I ate toast with tomato on it for breakfast. Impressively healthy, right? I washed it down with apple juice (eh, still fine). And then I followed that up with two donuts, a banana, and a cookie. And that was just breakfast. Then I got a delicious strawberry lemonade from a small coffee shop where they asked me, “Where have you been? We haven’t seen you in a while.” Even though I’ve been there a total of five times in my life. Nice to be remembered, I guess…
For lunch, I made chicken, roasted broccolini, and rice pilaf. Killing it. But I followed that up with two blueberry cookies (more like scones). Still feeling peckish, a few hours elapsed before I found myself eating a turkey burger, fries, and chocolate cake with ice cream. (It’s amazing how writing all of this down and looking back on it not only makes me feel terrible, but explains the reason why not even my elastic-waistband sweatpants fit.)
I needed the comfort today, and the friendship. I flew back to Los Angeles today just in time to make it to my regular trivia night with friends at a dive bar down the street. We laughed so hard I forgot for a brief moment why my life is different from theirs. And then it all came rushing back.
Today was one of those days where I didn’t cry (yet) but I felt down. And I fought it hard. I went out to a victory parade for the NBA Champion Oakland Warriors. I (clearly) ate my weight (and my neighbor’s weight) in delicious food. I laughed. I told stories. I spent time with friends. But underneath it all is that sadness that still manages to taint everything. It crops up constantly to remind me that I’m not like everyone else. I’m Hester Prynne but with a “G” for grieving instead of an “A” for adultery, though I might actually prefer the public shame of one over the other. Having a “G” etched so clearly on my face, in my eyes, makes me feel like an “other.” Like I’m different. Like my friends love me, but they’re scared to get too close for fear of catching my grief. For fear of contracting it like some awful disease and looking more like me.
I told at least five good jokes tonight. Yes, I counted. Yes, I’m a loser. It’s the little things that get me through the day most of the time.
I’m dreading tomorrow, when I have plans to see a friend I haven’t seen since December and she inevitably asks me “How’s everything going?” with that look on her face. The one that says, You know what I mean and I’m glad I’m not you and I don’t really want to know all at the same time. And which she also inevitably follows up with, “What’s new?” Nothing. Nothing is ever new. Grief is like that. It’s the same every day. Painful. All-consuming. Hard to talk about. Harder to live. Harder still to pretend like it’s fine so as not to bother other people with the truth.
I still haven’t faced it in the way I should. “Should.” I hate that word. Like there’s a manual someone wrote of how to behave and what exactly to be doing all the time and we all just walk around expecting ourselves and others to do those things when, really, we should be doing what’s best for each of us, individually, even if sometimes we have to be selfish.
I feel like I’m being selfish all the time. I can’t get a gauge for it. I agreed to go to Vegas this weekend (to distract myself) for a friend’s birthday (to distract myself), but as it draws nearer, I realize that I want to stay home, and maybe cry, and definitely eat ice cream, and for sure turn on Netflix, and without a doubt chill with myself. But then a friend might call and I might go out because it sounds better than sitting in my house, absorbed with my grief. But then again, I “should” go to Vegas. I already committed. It’s not like it’s torture. It’ll be fun. Then again, I should give myself the time to deal with what’s happening in my life. To remember how he always had my back. To listen to the voicemails of his I saved but haven’t been able to open. To be present in my sadness so maybe, just maybe, I can someday fit into my pants again and step outside my house without convincing myself over the course of several hours and hang out with my friends without silently acknowledging to myself that they’re actually just great distractions.
Day two and I’m already not living in my grief. Who would want to? It’s not fun like a water slide or a day at Disneyland. It’s like a terrifying drop on a roller coaster where you can’t see the bottom and you don’t know when it’s going to end and you feel like you’re going to die if it doesn’t stop soon. Dramatic, yes. But true.
But in case you were worried – even for a second – that I would get through the day without embarrassing myself, I coughed so hard I farted at trivia. And then I coughed louder to cover it up. And then I farted louder. So. Just be thankful you’re not me.