I had a few meltdowns at O’Hare Sunday morning, when I got lost trying to find the transit station that would deliver me unto the economy parking lot, and then when I tried to pay for parking, and then when tried to exit the lot. None of these were difficult tasks yet I failed miserably at each and behaved badly at every juncture, slamming doors and tossing bags and heaving curse words in all directions. Had I been watching myself from afar I would have thought, look at that sad middle-aged three-year-old losing her mind in the public sphere.
O’Hare is not my friend, as we learned long ago.
Over the course of 45 lost minutes I approached multiple unstaffed information booths and traversed many empty corridors, causeways, and underground labyrinths, but in the end it was Siri—lord how I loathe that word—that finally snapped my cord, when I found myself pulling onto Bessie Coleman Drive screaming JUST FUCKING TAKE ME HOME at an unresponsive Apple Carplay, via the Honda Civic touchscreen interface, in a voice I have never heard before and at a decibel level that has done possibly permanent damage to my vocal cords.
I hadn’t turned off “Airplane Mode” on my phone, that was the problem. It wasn’t even Siri’s fault.
What was the point of this story?
I’ve had a hard time this year. I haven’t been shy about admitting that. For some reason (naiveté, ignorance) I thought making this move would be easy and that it would solve everything, that I would reach the end of this particular path and settle down and… be settled. I planned for the move, but I didn’t plan for the upheaval, and the upheaval has been destabilizing and weird and just plain sad, sometimes. The distance between what I had planned for—what I expected—and reality was wider than I could ever have predicted. I felt lost and dumb most of the time, month after month, not understanding why I wasn’t happier, now that I had what I wanted, and I wondered more than once if I’d made a mistake. If I had failed.
I was reading this book on the plane called The Wisdom of Menopause, because that’s where we are now, that’s what it’s come to (oh dear, it’s true), and I highlighted this:
When we are standing at a crossroads in our lives, doubts inevitably arise. “Am I capable of pulling this off? Do I have the talent? The strength? Can I make it out there?” Or, as in my case, “What’s the use of having made it out there if I have no one to come home to?” Plucked from the milieu in which she has already proven herself and cast adrift in unfamiliar surroundings, a woman would have to be extraordinary not to be afraid. Her self-doubt may be magnified by the fact that as she faces loss, very often the path that will lead to her new life is not clear.
(I highlighted many things.) It felt good to feel understood, and recognized, just to have somebody say it’s okay. It’s okay to not know what comes next, to feel unsettled, to not have the answer, or any answers at all. To just be here and not expect more than that for a while. It took a lot of the pressure off.
I went to New York last weekend and had an amazing time but I realized I didn’t miss it. I wanted more than anything to bring my friends back with me when I left but I had no desire to stay. I was happy to come home, at least until my newly declared structural nemesis the airport screwed me over once again. That’s a victory—a small one, maybe, but I’m clinging to it.