Sometimes, when I get tired of my complicated life, I imagine what it would be like to start over someplace new, or what it might have been like if I had made different choices. I envision myself, living alone (well, with one cat), in a small town like Benson, AZ. I would have a small used book store or secondhand shop and live in a small apartment over it or behind it. I would have a couple of friends I met in my shop and go out to lunch or dinner once in a while, but mostly spend my free time listening to music, watching TV, or on the Internet.
Sounds simple and peaceful, doesn’t it?
Those of you who follow this blog know that my husband is my rock and my support. I often say I could not get through without him, and my recent experiences only reinforce that.
I didn’t begrudge his leaving, though I wish he had not been gone quite that long. His mother needed him to help her get ready to sell her house and move, and nine days was barely enough time to start on all that needed to be done. There are times she needs him as much as I do.
But coping on my own was difficult. I have paid work I have to do. It matches perfectly with my skill-set and I’m grateful to have it, but sometimes it’s just plain hard to do and hard to make myself do. And I have two blogs (the other is at janetcobur.wordpress.com) that I have made a commitment to posting in once a week, each. Plus, I have started writing a novel.
We have four cats, two of them ancient, and one dog, also ancient. I was afraid that one of them might die while my husband was away. (None did.)
As scary as the idea of coping with a dying or dead animal on my own was, just caring for them was difficult. They keep demanding food several times a day, you see, and they have no thumbs to open cans with. Then there’s the water bowls and the litter boxes. I used to live alone with one cat and manage okay, but that was many years and many meltdowns ago.
Then there was feeding me. Dan had stocked up on things I like before he left, but after the French bread pizzas were gone, I lived largely on salami sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and cereal. (I did eat vegetables. I had a small tray of sliced veggies and dip.) Once I made a couple of baked (frozen) fish sandwiches early in the week, but later I had devolved to the extent that my evening meal was peanut butter on a bagel. Another night I had mashed potatoes and a glass of red wine. Other meals I simply skipped.
Then there was Dealing With Stuff. Life Stuff. You know. The Stuff that happens to everyone sometimes piled up on me. I had to talk to (argue with) the utility company and the IRS. I had to pay bills. Life stuff leaves me exhausted.
Plus, I kept having to Go Out. Deposit my check. See the doctor. Pick up prescriptions. Buy cat food when I ran out. I wore pants more days last week than I had in the previous month. (Dan wanted me to water his butterfly garden daily, but it rained every day or night, so I didn’t have to put on pants and go out for that.) I treated myself to lunch twice when I had to go out to do those errands, but it was nearly impossible to decide where to eat.
Now Dan is back. I had to put on pants again so we could return his rental car.
But you see what I’m getting at here.
My fantasy of retreating to a simpler life is not feasible. It simply wouldn’t work. The everyday tasks and trials of managing a shop, caring for myself and a pet, negotiating all the stuff of life would overwhelm me. Oh, when I’m hypomanic and can sometimes focus, I might do all right for a while, but life – even a very basic one – would eventually overwhelm me. There are so many things I can no longer do, at least not without serious amounts of help and support.
I can muddle through for a while mostly on my own. I am getting better. But not better enough to live independently, at least not right now.