It’s not raining in the desert yet. I wish it were.
It’s me. I’ve been crying in those still moments in the early morning and in the evening.
I’m not sure what this lack of ease and well-being is.
When I sit with it, letting it be, I know it’s despair about the immediate future.
What I’m scared and teary about is the imminent prospect of going back into the county welfare office. And I’m worried about losing my modest but helpful ACA Silver healthcare plan. It’s the fear a mother has of losing her home. It’s the fear an older, single, underemployed woman with medical issues has for the future.
When June rolls around my income will be decimated, by more than half. The two youngest kids will be on Medicaid and I suppose I will be too. I console myself with the thought that I’m racing against the calendar to get some medical issues taken care of for me and for Erin before then.
It just happens. There are actual stresses on my body from all of these surgeries. Back to back, just get them done. I may be anesthetized one way or another, but the body knows. My body knows it’s been pummeled. The body has one memory and my head has another. I know some of the tears are instinctive, my body talking to me about these well-meaning assaults on its integrity. I can just accept this and let these tears come and go. After all, I’m grateful for the surgeries. Two years ago I thought they might not happen.
Tears from pain are a different story. These I can sit with, too, and it sometimes helps.
Then there are the tears of discouragement. These are harder to sit with.
I tell myself that I’ve made it through more than three years as the suddenly single head of a household. I congratulate myself for managing even though I’ll never see a big portion of the support ordered by the judge.
The horrifying moment of realizing I was not only a woman alone (that’s one thing, isn’t it?) but a woman abandoned with still-minor children (that’s a whole different can-o-worms), that moment was really a whole long season of realizations. The uncertainty and fearfulness of that season is back.
On a good day, I smile and feel that I can take on what I need to in order to get by. Thank goodness the state of California is persistent about child support. They’re freaking bulldogs and it has helped.
Sad that a court advocate told me the hard truth: “you can file for the spousal support, but in cases like this it’s so hard to collect.” Sadder that I chose to live for so many decades as a planet orbiting an inconstant sun to finally be rewarded with being tossed off into the deep and the dark.
Sailing out here in the darkness, I have to generate my own light. I’m like a little comet who doesn’t feel ready to burn out quite yet.
I suppose that’s why I’ve been shedding many of these tears, unbidden.
After working so hard at so many things, I still find myself on the tenuous edge of American poverty.
Life is unpredictable. We can’t count on rewards that make sense in a logical or even plausible way. I have accepted that.
The tears are like the rain that still falls after the big winds of a high desert storm blow through.
I’m beyond middle-aged by anyone’s standards. I’ve done all kinds of work, from waiting tables and carhopping to laboratory research and teaching. I’ve written magazine columns. I’ve farmed. I’ve raised a boatload of kids.
My mother called me a dreamer. I think I’m practical, sometimes too much so.
I know what it means to be a first generation college graduate in a working class family, working and going to school, raising kids and going to grad school.
I have some perfectly serviceable degrees. I have a good education. I have remarkable children and some wonderful grandchildren. I have some pretty amazing friends, even though many of them are scattered around the world. I have owned and operated two drylands farms. I’m living on one right now, in a house with an evaporative cooler for summer and a woodstove for winter. I have countless amenities in this house. I don’t usually feel like an older woman hovering at the poverty line. My youngest kids, who live here, certainly don’t either. But I know what’s in the bank and what’s coming my way each month. I know what’s owed and what’s about to be owed. I mentally list the numbers in an OCDish way. I’m telling myself to stop that.
There are so many of us who list the numbers every month and they barely add up. Take a bit away and then what?
Can you stop the mental listing?
I continue to wonder why I am not finding my way into work that is both meaningful and can support us. I wonder whether I’m not creative enough. I wonder whether (as a friend of mine tells me) I’m not thinking big enough.
Are your passions big? Are they big enough to carry you across the weird times? That’s what I’m thinking about now. How can that work?
Bad things happen. Good things happen. These days I’m going to weep at both.
I don’t feel depressed. I just find myself crying. And that’s fine, I suppose.
Maybe when June finally comes around and I have to face the inevitable, I’ll find ways to rest at ease.
I hope you are at ease this evening.