Tuesday, August 20, 2013


One of the silver-lined benefits of moving to a new place complete with a painfully slow build-up of new social connections is that you spend a lot of time with yourself. Sometimes, I feel like this opportunity could be better spent towards inward reflection with self-improvement books over knitting through 'Orange is the New Black' ... but I'm not going to argue when my mind wants some clicking-needles and well-played prison drama over digging into inward struggles, again.

Nevertheless, an observation.

I like to tell stories. I observe many little seemingly insignificant things about my day-to-day life and collect them as treasured stories. Then I wait for the right person to share these stories with, opening that carefully kept treasure box to share an observation of a beautiful tree on the way home or about running from a mean looking wasp on a Bailey venture. And in doing such, I feel complete, that my life matters through these little life happenings, and I continue on feeling okay because someone listened to what was important to me.

So, when my treasure box fills with no one to share stories with, the treasures get lost and I don't get that validated experience of feeling like I matter. What do I do when my box is full, to prevent the inevitable downfall into lonely sadness?  I don't know. Yesterday, I started to write them down with accompanying illustrations to see if that would help. I kind of like it, and it gives me a reason to practice drawing things.

Of course, there is always the internet. While there isn't the instant feedback that comes with people, the internet can serve as a means to assume one is heard and is thus important. Why else would facebook promote status updates? And why else do people look for likes and comments on those updates, even when posting mundane things about every day life? To be heard, of course - to matter in a sea of information, in boats of loneliness.

However, I recognize that my friends would not tolerate, nor would I have the energy for, all that facebook updating. And there is something empty about trying to gain my importance of being through the internet.

All of this weaves into what I've been musing over the past few weeks, as the lack of constant friendship is placed in sharp focus when you're alone in a new place. Friendship. Specifically, friendship as a post-graduate adult in the land of couples and families. When you call friends who are married or partnered, who don't need your ear for their problems. When your friends are busy with making families or with their own jobs and lives, too busy to listen to your stories, to see their importance to you because your stories don't involve big life moves like marriage and kids. When you have a hard time seeing through those unmet needs to what is still being offered for comfort.

Because honestly, friendship is hard right now. And part of this is being in Janesville, which lacks the sort of community I so strongly want to be involved with. But, part of it is my phase of life - because now is when people make families, move onto that next stage, and move past where I am. Which leaves me behind. And in a new place, where those my age have kids who can talk, where does that leave me? It leaves me on that lonely boat, with a treasure box full of stories.

... I had no idea this was going to become a story about pirates.

Nevertheless -

Sometimes, when I find myself struggling the most, I want to blame everyone else, pitch myself as the victim, and cry over my lonely lot in life. But everything I've learned in the past few years teaches me that while some of what I think may be true, that does nothing towards actually fixing the problem. In fact, it only makes me feel worse, digs me deeper into dark places. So I have to take a step back, to see what the actual problem is, explore the roots of those feelings, and figure out what I need. And I need to speak those needs, to find a way for those needs to be met, and to be open for the responses to come from unexpected or unlikely places.

What makes it difficult is that these emotions I'm dealing with now are bound so tightly with innate needs and desires, to story lines that weave into childhood, to feelings that are as sensitive as the day the wound was first inflicted. But, knowing this process is a start, and it's something. Because I can't sink my boat of lonely into the sea of despair just because my treasure box is full. That does no one good.

And so, some stories.

First, an upward swing of connections. This past weekend, I was able to meet some lovely people at Angelic Organics Learning Center in Illinois, thanks to a new friend in Beloit that always feeds me delicious things. And I spent a full day on Sunday talking with women involved in farming and agriculture in the Southwest Wisconsin area, showing me that the community I long for exists - it's just more spread out. Thankfully, it also involves AMAZING ENCHILADAS.

Second, I'm going camping by myself for the first time with Bailey this weekend. If you don't hear from me by Monday, then I'm lost somewhere in the North Woods of Wisconsin. And I've probably been consumed by mosquitos.

Third, I've decided that I want to build a vermiculture bin for under my sink, since most of my compost will be kitchen scraps anyway and the castings would work well for the container gardens I'll start next year. I'm really excited about this.

And last, through reading my new favorite book American Canopy, John Muir has become my favorite naturalist. I may even try to name a future child or pet (it really depends on what happens in the next five year here folks, let's be real), Muir.

Until next time then, cheers.