Posted on April 18, 2013
So when we last left our self-professed stressed hero, I…er…he was trying to figure out where to go in order to step away for a bit and relieve the stress. He…er…I did finally settle on such a place; Manhattan. Of all the places I haven’t been, why choose some place I’d visited four times already? I honestly wanted chicken at Bon Chon, a Lobster Burger from Rare and some feelings of security knowing my general surroundings. And, okay, what better place to lose oneself than surrounded by so many other people? The easiest way to make oneself invisible is to put on a pair of earphones. People respect that you don’t want to be bothered then, not that they were going to bother you in the first place. I wasn’t even going to tell anybody where I was going (with the exception of the hubby and my parents). It didn’t quite work out that way.
I needed the solitude. I needed to get away from death, from cancer, from Alzheimer’s, from making decisions about moving, from a lack of decisions being made within my family and from all the negativity that was continuing to build up inside me. When you get out of bed and plan your day around negative perceptions, it only creates additional stress that doesn’t actually exist. “I have to go to the grocery store, but they probably aren’t going to have what I need. And then when I get up to the check-out area, it’ll be a fight because nobody ever realizes there’s one line, so they cut in front of you. I have to pick dad up and he’s going to do and say these same things over and over again. Then I’ll say ‘this’ to him and we’ll both feel bad. Which will just make me angrier because he’ll forget about it in two minutes and say ‘this’ again. And I’ll say ‘that’ in response.”
“If I go pick my dry cleaning up before 4, it won’t be ready. Yet if I go after 4, it may be that one woman who constantly seems to give me attitude. Do I really want to put up with that today? What if I wait until tomorrow? Then they’ll call and ask why I didn’t pick it up today. And if I take dad to the mall, it’s the day the one person I like doesn’t work at the pretzel stand. That means the other girl will be there talking to her boyfriend and I’ll be lucky if I can get her attention before dad says something, which will only piss me off. The hubs is going to call and he’s going to have several ideas of what he wants moved around, completed or me to go out to the store and look for. And who does it? Me. I have zero help, I’m doing it all right now and I’m freakin’ exhausted.”
These were the things going through my mind and they were constant. There was no break from any of it and I couldn’t get it to stop. So I booked a trip and stepped outside the stress bubble for 5 days. My solitude died a quick death shortly after I landed. The Rainbow Book Fair was Saturday and I had a rare opportunity to catch up with my mentor and friend from Grand Valley State University. The bizarre thing is that while I was looking around for him, two folks from Facebook recognized me and surprised my cute white ass. I’ve no regrets about running into them, though, and I laughed quite a bit that day.
Two friends met up with me twice. I almost didn’t tell them I was going to be in town, but decided it was be inexcusably rude of me if I didn’t. Hanging with them in the past has always, always been a highlight and they were just what the doctor ordered. I honestly wish we lived closer to each other. Beyond that, I did meet up with a friend I bump into once every ten years or so, which was also pleasant. He and I will most likely be in our 50s the next time we see each other.
Five days of this. I realized last night that I was ready to come back home. Would you like to know how I knew? It occurred to me that I wasn’t thinking about everything negative that could happen to me the moment I walked out the entrance to the hotel. I caught myself marveling at several instances of people walking out the door of a store, then coming right back when they saw a woman with a stroller about to go in. I saw kindness. I saw hope that not everybody had become jaded. I saw laughter. I saw camaraderie. I saw people not faking smiles.
That’s when I knew I was going to be okay, that the worst had passed and that it was safe to go back home and not necessarily resume where I was, but to start things up with a new mindset, maybe even be able to say ‘Under New Management,’ too.
No recovery is absolute. There’s always the potential to slip right back into old habits and feel like one is drowning. Asking for help when this happens isn’t a weakness. It’s not a sign of failure. Instead, it’s a sign of strength and one I hope to embrace so I don’t have to do this again.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
10 Responses to “Walkabout: Manhattan”
April 18, 2013 at 9:05 am
Kristoffer Gair, you have been accused and been found guilty of being human. Your sentence: life.
Now put on your boxing gloves and get back in there and fight.
April 18, 2013 at 9:26 am
As they say in the Bronx, “True dat.”
Lloyd Songal says:
April 18, 2013 at 9:47 am
April 18, 2013 at 9:48 am
Ok now I feel bad for intruding on your escape. I did not mean to go fan girl. But I am glad you are ok.
April 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm
Please don’t. Sweetie, there’s a difference between getting what one thinks he/she wants and getting what he/she needs. I got the rest and the seclusion I needed, but I also got to meet someone fantastic. I even called the hubby when I got back to the hotel and told him the two of you HAVE to meet one day! You helped make my day. Thank you. =)
April 18, 2013 at 10:44 pm
You did not
Lloyd Songal says:
April 18, 2013 at 9:49 am
Glad to hear you had a good getaway and I hope you can hold onto that positive mindset.
April 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm
I’m hoping I’ll hold onto it for at least 72 hours. lol
Aaron Smith says:
April 18, 2013 at 11:02 am
“‘And who does it? Me. I have zero help, I’m doing it all right now and I’m freakin’ exhausted.’
These were the things going through my mind and they were constant. There was no break from any of it and I couldn’t get it to stop. ”
Oh my God, you just described EVERY DAY for the past five years for me. Get out of my head! LOL
April 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm
Five years? Good grief. I thought it was bad for the last couple of weeks. How in the world have you done it for five years???