When I was in elementary school — second or third grade, I think — we spent a significant period of time learning songs about America. We did the customary “God Bless America”, “America, the Beautiful”, and “Yankee Doodle”, but we also learned songs like “Sixteen Tons”, “John Henry”, and “Erie Canal”. I personally loved “Erie Canal” because, for one thing, I was from Ohio and…well, you know.
As dorky as it sounds, I really liked all the singing. Then again, I also liked the square dancing and learning to fox trot. What can I say? I was a weird kid.
Over the years, I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered. Yet “Erie Canal” is a song that’s always stayed with me. And every time shit hits the fan, I mentally start singing “…low bridge, everybody down” as if to warn myself of impending danger. Of course, I’m often too dense or too busy to listen to such things. I keep singing though because, hey, maybe I’ll actually listen one of these times, right?
Despite the fact that I’m gradually nearing the last of my P.T. and the last of my appointments with doctors, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea that the end of this abject poverty may actually be in sight. Mostly, I think this is due to everything getting worse by degrees every time I turn around. As soon as I get a handle on one thing, something else pops up. Every month it’s the bills that have to be paid even though I don’t have a regular source of income. Every day there’s a child to be fed. The broken crown. The occasional pair of cheap shoes or pants because the last ones wore out. Let’s not even discuss the rate at which kids outgrow their clothes. There should be a way to wrap them in leaves and blankets until they’ve reached puberty. It’s just…it’s… It’s all normal stuff, but it drowns you when you don’t have the resources for some of the basics. Five years of this and it’s making me crazy.
Now, on top of everything else, the business my friend has where I was helping out on occasion (and earning a little bit here and there) is going into the “slow season”. No work coming in from that source. My camera died two weekends ago and I’ve spent an insane amount of time researching the problem and possible solutions. I think I’ve exhausted online forums and possibilities. Do I have the money to have it repaired or replaced? No. That means I can’t take on clients — paying clients or my OpLove clients. That’s just insane. So, no money from that source either right now.
Of course, just to make things even more interesting, LD’s birthday is Saturday and Mojo’s is a month after that. Screw the bills and everything else, I think. To not be able to give my kids even a simple gift breaks my heart. They don’t deserve that. Yeah, yeah, they know I love them and “that’s what really matters”, but as a mother, it hurts to think my children don’t even get something as basic as a birthday present. I know, I know, it’s not supposed to matter, but it does. And it pisses me off.
I keep waiting for the day when I can go back to worrying about whether or not I set the alarm clock for the right time so I’m not late for work. I wait for the day when I can actually look at my credit score without requiring heavy sedation first. I long for a time when I can go to sleep knowing that I’ll wake up to electricity, phone, and cold milk, healthy gums and colon, and kids who don’t have to rely on homemade cards and a tiny bag of M&Ms on special occasions. I want to go to bed without Ambien, curl up next to someone special, make love, fall asleep from a day of work done well and the sense of being accepted, loved, and wanted and that I made someone else feel that way, too, the last thing in my heart as my eyes closed. I want to wake up feeling that. All of it. I want to do more than sleepwalk through my days and pull my gray hairs out at night.
I want to find a way through this Autumn and use the time to rebuild my sense of self — self-confidence, self-assuredness, self-worth — and a sense of purpose. You know, maybe cut back (a little) on helping building someone else’s business as I have been and truly focus on building my own (provided I get that camera issue resolved). I want to shake off the dead leaves, buckle down and get into the serious business of strengthening my base so that when I branch out, the branches are strong enough to support all the needs of my family, myself, my friends, my clients, and those who may never even meet me but for whom I choose when I feel a need to pay it forward, as I always do. I want Autumn as the buffer to soften the blow of the even harder work I must do internally during the Winter so that when I emerge from my icy cardboard castle, I emerge pale, draped in even paler pelts of those who ran slower than I; stronger, enured, and ready to battle the tasks that lie ahead, so that in Spring, I can let it all grow. The branches will bud with leaves and blossoms, maybe even berries or nuts for the birds and squirrels and bugs, for the children who want to hang their tire swing from the branches now strong enough to hold them safely, to grow roots even deeper wherever I am and to become a welcome and noticeable part of my surroundings, not just a colorful guest.
I just want some “normal” and I’m running out of ways to envision any of it.
I know you’ve all probably had enough of my whining and I can’t say that I blame you. It seems like it’s been one great big constant bitch session around here for the last almost five years. My head says this is just one more challenge that I’ve been given and I should suck it up, which I mostly have. But the fact is, it is what it is and I’ve had to play by rules I didn’t get to choose. It drives me nuts to not be able to have the control and autonomy to which I’m accustomed.
Through it all, you’ve been great friends. “…And you’ll always know your neighbor, you’ll always know your pal, if ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal…” It’s true, too. I’ve only survived this long because of your love, prayers, patience, and kindness. Dare I ask for a little more love, prayers, patience, and kindness as I navigate these last few months and obstacles? It’s a lot to ask, I know. Bear with me as try to avoid a 24/7 whine fest. Please help me find the grace to make it through.