Content

I am content. I want to remember that this happened. That it is possible. How rarely can any of us say that? Are there still things I would change or things that rankle? Sure. I want to feel pretty and be skinnier. Who doesn’t? I want my parents and my brother to never grow old and to always be happy & healthy. I want this man to make me more of a priority. But I have him and I like him and he makes me so happy. For most of my life, I longed for this feeling so I’m going to revel in it as long as I can and try to keep pushing away the niggling thoughts leftover from heartaches past. Mostly though, I want the world to make sense, to be fair and equitable and safe. And I want to be proud to be an American again.

But for tonight, for this moment, I feel content. And that feels really nice.

This is 40

I was excited to turn 30. It was, and still is, to date, my best year. I’m not feeling any particular type of way about turning 40.

I have lots of feelings. Obviously. I am who I am, after all.

Introspection has become part of my daily life. It’s how I take care of myself. I walk 45 minutes each way to and from work every day and, although I listen to podcasts, my brain is constantly churning. Sometimes sparked or provoked by the podcasts but often in spite of or at least parallel to. John laughs at me for my overactive mind but he also helps quiet it. He might be the best part of this milestone.

Lately, for the past several weeks, through the unwelcome remnants of unsettling dreams or human apparitions of heartaches past, I keep thinking about exes. Maybe not so much them, as men or as personalities or even individual qualities, but their impact on my life, for better or, more accurately, for worse …… it’s hard not to imagine my 40 years of life within the context of the things that have shaped me the most. And, with the most brutal truth, shaped the absence of roles I thought I would be playing by this point in my life; roles that seemed and still do, to some extent, innate and inevitable. And yet, roles I may never and likely will never get to try on. Having a child of my own, with John, or g/God forbid, someone in the future, seems unlikely at this age. I’m not in a rush or, I guess, I am not in a place where it is feasible. I live in 385 sq ft. My guy still weirdly lives with roommates. I am not moving to the suburbs. Tiptoeing across the threshold of 40, these are the things I regret and yet, I do realize that it’s silly to regret something you really did not have control over. You’re allowed to regret missing out though, right? I don’t know. This isn’t like a trip to Cabo that I chose not to take.

Relationships, for me, have had the single greatest impact on my four decades as a human, particularly the past two, and I don’t know how to really sit with or accept that reality. Although, even as I type that, I know that isn’t really true. The first one in college, the one after college, the one when I moved here from Pittsburgh … they all still hurt. It isn’t hard for me to recognize or admit but I would guess that, to anyone other than me, even those that know me best, this statement would be utterly unbelievable or, at the very least, induce an eye roll or a casual shrug and a hair flip. To me though, looking at past relationships, and even many friendships, is like being stuck in a hall of mirrors at a county fair. Unpack that as you wish.

So, this is 40. Seems a lot like both 20 and 30 in my head and heart. Wonder if 50 will come with a wider lens. And instructions on how to use it properly.

Tiger Lily Vegas

What does it all mean?

Tiger Lily Vegas was the name of a cat. In college, maybe senior or super senior year (victory lap), my small and beloved group of guy friends and I illegally had a cat in the dorms for a few, gloriously scandalous weeks. Considering virtually everything was against the rules at our tiny, conservative, Christian college, this was a very big deal.

I wanted to name her Tigerlily. Natalie Merchant was my muse at the time, I think. The guys wanted to name her Vegas (we were unabashedly into the movie Swingers then). “You’re so money baby and you don’t even know it.” Maybe we should have named her Double Down. Anyway, we compromised on Lily Vegas and, after a number of adventures and learning what it was really like to have a cat, illegally or not, in a confined space, we got caught. Probably the smell although, I don’t remember those lesser details now, fifteen years later. Lily Vegas lived out her days on my family’s farm, having babies, killing rodents and living the life fantastic until a car squashed her. I’m not a cat person, or even a pet person, but I had an affinity for Lily Vegas, for what she represented, the memories, the subversion.

I have so many memories and stories like this in my head, upstaged in volume only by thoughts. I like to write but rarely do it, except in the occasional, introspective, wordy and admittedly obnoxious social media post about whatever is rankling or inspiring at that moment. After college, I had a blog and it was cathartic and I met great “friends” there, a few of whom I am still connected with through social media. Some days, especially when I’m walking the 2.5 miles to or from work and my mind wanders or I’m lying in bed unable to sleep, I think about how I wish I had someone to turn to and talk about all these random things. So here we go. Buckle up.