By spring 2009, my parents had already been supporting me for a year, and I knew the time was approaching when I had to either move back in with them and sell my house, or win the lottery. I chose the first, because I never know what lottery tickets to buy. There are so many, and they all have all these different instructions and it is just too hard to choose. Then, you have to pay cash for them, which I either don't have, or which has fallen into the other dimension of time and space that lives at the bottom of my horrible old lady purse.
Also, I was tired of living alone and just the word "Ohio" seemed to leave the bitter taste of failure in my mouth.
I didn't realize it then, but I was also more depressed than I have ever been. I knew I felt pretty damn bad, but it wasn't until I'd been back in Bloomington for 6 months and started feeling better, that I realized just how far down I really was. See, sometimes it pays not to Know Thyself too well.
Before I moved back, though, I had to have a talk with the Olds. Clearly, they had, have, and continue to do more for me than any parents should ever be expected to. Clearly, I am luckier than a bag of very big lucky things to have them. Clearly, they should have children who are successful, functional grownups, and luckily, they have two of those--my brother and sister. Two out of three is pretty good, I guess. And I am not one of those people who could [or would] ever blame them for any of my own problems*.....but during my exhausting 30 minutes of self realizations, I also could see that many of the decisions I had made to date in my life, I had made based on Not Wanting To Disappoint Other People, Especially But Not Limited to, My Parents.
Things like going to Vassar, although I am very glad I did go. Going to grad school in history [Why I thought THAT was a good idea, I still don't know]. Going to library school [I pretend that I decided this myself, but really, it was my mom's idea and it was also a good one at the time since the alternative was to simply continue to alternate between playing Super Nintendo and crying for another three months]. Buying a house. Staying in a bad relationship way longer than I should have because I didn't want to fail at that AGAIN and be a disappointment in yet another way. [Even though my parents had been tired of that relationship since the 80s]
All my parents have ever really wanted for their children is for us to be happy. You know, like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias minus the fake Southern accent. I honestly don't think that they would have cared much if I had gone exactly the opposite on most of the above. But apparently, my sense of duty and guilt is so overdeveloped that I will consistently do things that I THINK they want me to do, and continually judge myself against what I think that they might think, rather than, you know, just do what I really honestly want to. There are so many levels of dysfunction in my sick little monkey mind that it is hard to pry them all apart.**
But I know my parents, and I knew that if I lived with them, that unless I had a real plan for what to do, that life would eventually degenerate into them subtly reading aloud the help wanted ads, and asking me leading questions, and that pretty soon I would find myself in yet another ill advised educational program/career choice/relationship....and that the cycle would begin again. Let me be clear. This would not be my parents' fault.
It would be MINE, for continuing to try to have the normal life that most people achieve without really thinking about it, and which is just not ever going to work for me. You know, working a regular job, getting married or otherwise coupled, breeding little humans, having a 401k, being able to keep my eyebrows nominally groomed. Those things, for whatever reason, are completely beyond me. I am glad other people have them, but I honestly never wanted any of the things that girls are supposed to want, such as babies, picket fences, being emaciated, a husband with a good job, plenty of closet space or ridiculously expensive shoes. I mean, I do like plenty of closet space. So I can put fabric and yarn into it. My choice of mate is mostly based on less practical things, like "Does this person pay attention to me?" and "Do they not vomit when I disrobe?" And the expensive shoes I like are mostly black, clunky, and located in what my sister calls "the lesbian section" at DSW. I do love babies, but not being able to litter train them is a deal-breaker.
Being a librarian worked for me only because it allowed me, up to a certain point, to be unconventional. There is nothing odd about librarians who knit, collect cats, are somewhat bitter spinsters, read obsessively, and wear comfortable clunky Doc Martens. It is not even odd to be all of these things at once. Some librarians even defy the old stereotypes and embrace the new geek chic, wearing lipstick and odd homemade dresses with their glasses while selling poorly made fruit cozies and journals made of used toilet paper on Etsy while taking time out to drink microbrewed beer and sing karaoke on the weekends.
What librarians are NOT supposed to do, apparently, is express opinions, demand a living wage, or draw attention to themselves either professionally or privately without express permission of their director. I probably could have managed to skin by on the first two. But ever since I can remember, whether I try to or not, I do attract attention. I don't really know why. I'm sure a lot of it is due to just being an ass. Which is fine. My father always exhorts me to stick with my strengths, and that is surely a big one.
So, at some point, hopefully long before the age of 40, even if you've spent most of your life on the Isle of Cluelessness, you have to accept certain things about yourself and adjust life to your strengths and not the other way around. So, I told the Olds that if I moved back in with them, of course they would have my undying gratitude and love and that when they become too feeble, I will open their wine bottles for them***......but that they also needed to understand that I am different, and not just because I am crazy. And that I would not be moving back to try and get a stupid job that I would then mess up, and then try to get another one and screw that up too, and that I was not going back to school, EVER. That I could do all of those things by myself, in Ohio, continuing on my merry, misguided way, trying to fit my square pegs into round holes**** and never succeeding. If I came home to Bloomington, it would be, simply to be MYSELF. And do things the only way I know how, which is by creating, and being an ass, and fitting in with all the other creative, underemployed but happy asses here.
By the end of this conversation [proclamation is probably a more accurate description], I was shaking and sobbing. And the poor Olds were just looking on in astonishment. I don't think they had any idea just what a mess I really was, or that I'd spent so much of my life trying to please my own ideas of what they wanted....because, of course, those were my ideas, not theirs. Apparently, when the Olds raised me to always consider other people's feelings, I misunderstood the part about figuring out what those feelings actually ARE. Of course, since I seem to have spent so much of my life busily attempting to fulfill the imagined expectations of others, it shouldn't suprise me that I haven't spent that much time figuring out what I really want.
Now, that I have, though, it is pretty simple. I want to live in Bloomington. Permanently. And I want to make things, and hopefully, figure out how to support myself from doing so. Whoah. That wasn't nearly as hard as it should have been. Imagine taking 40 years to figure that out.
*Except the short gorilla legs, tipped uterus, and the obsession with Criminal Minds. They are completely to blame for all of that.
**Therapy, you say? Well, I've done that. Several times. The problem is, my first therapist died, which was [and continues to be] inconvenient. My second therapist, who was awesome beyond belief, disappeared. And my third one mostly asked me questions about knitting since I was knitting in the waiting room. I realize that I am free to find yet another therapist, but why pay money for someone to tell me the same crap I can figure out if I sit still for ten minutes and write it all down? Why deprive all six of you the amusement value of peering into my cluttered mind?
***Because old age doesn't mean you should give up your hobbies.
****That sounds much dirtier than I meant it to.