I’m still here. Still adrift but in some ways, I can see a path that I couldn’t see before. I’m not going to lie, I’m still not 100% sure how to connect A to B but honestly, what choice does one have? You either do it or you don’t.
There was a big part of me that was ready to go out with 2016. I didn’t want to see 2017. I am so tired of it all. It was the worst year of my life for so many reasons. I will mark this time with a tattoo. A permanent remembrance. While some would say, why not just move on – move past it? To that I say this: I will. No one has the power to stop time or go back. But I will not pretend like it didn’t happen. Like the devastation wasn’t real.
I have written several pieces but I’ve not posted them. I will at some point. I mentioned this to someone important to me and their response was almost like they were tired of hearing about it. “You keep saying that…” Well there’s reasons I don’t post things. I can tell you that I don’t write these things to get a reaction or response from people. If no one reads this or not, honestly doesn’t matter to me. Then why write it? It’s for me. I can’t keep this stuff inside and I have no one to talk to about any of this – at least no one who truly cares. So I will write it out… or go crazy.
It was a warm day for mid January in North Dakota. Somewhere around 40 degrees. December was brutal. Over 50 inches of snow and temps in the negative double digits. This afternoon I went out to the backyard with the intentions of shoveling off the deck on the back of the house. I did not realize just how much there was. Easily eight feet across and four feet deep. I started at one end, shoveling from the top then chopping my way down to the bottom. One small path at a time. The warm air and sun made the snow extra heavy but I knew that today was the day to get it done.
Because I was shoveling snow, I left my phone inside and took off my watch to keep from ruining them. I’d guess I was out there for maybe two hours. My back ached. My shoulders and arms burning. My mind racing the whole time. With each shovel full, I think about how I got here. I think about how much of my life has been spent here in North Dakota. From 18 thru 23 the first time and then from 35 until now at 41. I think about Mary. A lot. I must be a bad memory for her now. I will mourn her loss for however many days I have left on this planet. I think about loss. The loss of another loved one. And I ache.
I did not realize how hard it would be living alone. I know millions of people do it all the time but this is new to me. At 41 years old, it’s not something that I know how to do or enjoy. Sure, there’s parts of it that are fine, but I don’t think people were made to be alone. I can see a future of me being alone. It bothers me. Usually this is were the choir chimes in with “You just need to go out and meet people…” “Get out of you head…” “You shouldn’t think that way or have that attitude…”
That’s easy for some to say.
I rolled the dice, risked it all and lost it all. I’ve been told that high risk can equal high reward. I had a lot to risk and came up empty handed. It makes me want to raise my fists in the air and yell at the top of my lungs…
“I did this for you! All I did was love you! More than anyone else has or could!”
I’ll be gone soon. Sooner than you think. Can you at least be kind to me while I’m still here?! I know you’re doing whatever you want to do anyway, but did I mean this little to you?! I question my value knowing I’ve been depreciated.
I’m not dumb. I know what’s going on. The silence is deafening. It’s about the choices you make. You see, I’ve played this game before. What to say… and what not to say. I know more than you think I do. Don’t insult my intelligence or lie to me. I am not dumb.
I shovel harder. Faster. My head is pounding. Sweat mixed with tears. I hate thinking.
What could have been… What should have been… Angry and sad at the same time.
The snow seemed to get heavier as I went. I figured if I could at least clear enough snow to open the door that’d at least be a good start. My plastic shovel started to bend and flex as I got more impatient trying to shovel more snow than I should. At some point, sweating from work, freezing from snow, sore from tossing it – the shovel fell from my hands and I let out the loudest, most primal scream I could muster. At almost at the exact same time, the Canadian Pacific Railroad let their whistle blow on the tracks not far from my house. Like it was meant to happen. I yell again – the whistle blows.
It felt strangely good to get that out of me. It gave me the boost of energy I needed to finish more than half of the deck. With the door cleared I called it good enough. I walked around to the front of the house, put my shovel away and stood in the open garage looking out at the world. I am sad about my neighborhood. I am gutted when I think about my house and /what will become of it. What will become of the two trees we planted in the back yard?
When 2016 started, I could never have predicted how it was to end. I wrote in my journal last year that it’d be either the best year ever or the worst. I sure called that one. I won’t even try to guess about 2017. I know I will move this year. Restart in a new place. I don’t know if I’ll be back here again but I can tell you that I am leaving most of me here. If Tony left his heart in San Francisco, I am leaving mine here in North Dakota.
I will miss you North Dakota. More than you know. More than you’ll miss me. You have shaped me. Changed me. Forged me in your fire. Left your mark on me. On my heart and on my soul.