I was so devastated at the idea of working retail. I sucked it up and applied for a job and I ended up working at a grocery store in a pandemic. That sounds pretty terrible on the surface of things. So it’s a little surreal that when I’m at work I’m the most at peace and content I’ve been in quite a long time. It’s also a really disheartening commentary on my life as it exists and has existed prior to now. Being at work is not supposed to be markedly better than your life away from work – even when you have a decent boss and decent coworkers and an overall friendly atmosphere. (The grocery store I work for is definitely the best grocery store I could have ended up working for and probably just about the best retail experience I could get.)
Today is H’s birthday. I work today but had yesterday off, so I concocted a plan to pick up some food items I thought he’d like from where I work, and drop them off at his apartment. I’d do it while he was at work, leave the bag at the door and text him to let him know it was there. That way I could express I care about him and our friendship without putting any pressure on him to be social.
It warmed up and I wanted to wear my cute short shorts, which happen to be the only pair of shorts that still fit, anyway. So before I headed out I spent two hours (yes, two hours) trying on various shirts and jackets, trying to find a combination I liked for when I headed to my place of employment to shop and pick up my paycheck. No one but strangers and coworkers were going to see me, but I’m vain and wanted the latter to see me looking cute, not frumpy. Especially if my boss was there, since I’ve got this ridiculous crush that feels like it shouldn’t even be able to exist while I’m still wishing I could be with H.
Oh well. It doesn’t feel serious and it’s a fun distraction and gives me someone I can switch to thinking about when thinking about H hurts.
Sadly, my boss was there but was outside in a spot where it was unlikely he’d see me, unless he happened to look inside the store while I was picking up my paycheck. I hope he looked up and saw my ass looking cute. I feel sheepish about this vice of vanity + secret crush but given what a big giant viceless square I am, I think I’m allowed this.
It doesn’t feel fair to know that in spite of my baggage and weirdness I’d make a good significant other for someone – I’d be kind, listen, communicate, and put few expectations on someone because I myself prefer not to feel that I’m being loaded down with expectations – I’m not looking for someone to save me, I’m not looking for someone to be a sugar daddy, I’m not looking for someone to be a stepdad and help me shoulder the burden of parenting – I just want a simple scenario in which there’s mutual attraction, caring, companionship and fun.
No one is going to know that about me, though, because the circumstances of my life will make it so they don’t even want to try dating me in the first place. The only people that are going to look at a divorcing mom of 4 working in a grocery store and want a shot are douchebags that think they smell vulnerable prey, and divorced dads that want someone to help THEM parent, and probably need therapy before they get into another relationship.
I was talking about the subject of divorce and the future with a coworker that also does work as a divorce mediator, that managed to navigate his own divorce successfully and that speaks well of his ex and her new partner – I quipped that I could put on my profile that I don’t have 4 kids because I’ve been collecting baby daddies, I have 4 kids because I was raised in a cult. Luckily it earned the response I was going for – laughter.
Later, though, when we were both on door duty together and had some free time to chat, he asked me what I was most looking forward to and I brushed it off – obviously trying to be helpful and cheering he tried to expand on the question and for a moment I lost composure and my entire face fell apart – or at least that’s what it felt like. Most of my expression was at least hidden by my mask.
I can’t think of anything to look forward to in a positive sense, just the absence of certain negative things. Most of my life has been shit and will continue to be shit in the macro sense, with me just trying to stay focused on whatever peace and joy I can eke out of the immediate moment of existing.
That’s not me being relentlessly negative. I’m a problem solver. I’m someone that actively tries to look for what is beautiful and good. When I find it I appreciate it and adjust my existence to include it. My sense of humor, however grim, is shaped around being able to see the contrast between the light and the dark and to appreciate the silliness of life. I know there’s an enormous difference between what’s possible and what’s probable, though.
I know what the circumstances of my life are and I know these aren’t the kind of circumstances that suddenly resolve into some kind of sweet happy ending.
I live north of Indy, and work in the northside, while H works in downtown Indy (well, when there’s not a pandemic) and lives in the south side. So the drive from my work to his apartment clocked in at 30 minutes, mostly on I465. This was just fine with me – I was looking forward to getting out for a longer drive, something I hadn’t been able to do in a while. It’s stupid, but when I merged onto I465 and my GPS told me to continue for 21 miles it gave me a little mood boost.
I did note that I’ve quickly come to rely on my smartphone and technology – I’d never been to H’s apartment complex before and I didn’t even look at the route or any intersections in advance, just trusted that my GPS would deliver me safely. It did, more or less, though it didn’t take me to the exact building and I almost left the bag in front of someone else’s apartment before spotting the number on the building and realizing it was the wrong building. I dropped off the bag at the correct place, then parked by the office and texted him that it was there.
After that I got back out on the road – this time, though, I couldn’t get the same mood boost from my 21 miles of interstate because all I could think about was how stupid and minor the things are that give me a lift and how even those stupid, minor things are things I can’t just indulge in when I want to. Fuck my life, fuck my ex, fuck this pandemic, fuck the universe.
Just to add to the depressing things – I refused to contact my mom on Mother’s Day. I also refused to contact her on her birthday, which was earlier this week. Mother’s Day and birthdays come every year. Me going through the dissolution of an 18 year relationship hopefully happens just once and she hasn’t been there for me at all. It’s May and she’s never reached out even just with a perfunctory inquiry as to how I’m doing.
Well, that’s on her. She’s the parent in this relationship. I refuse to take on the expectations of being the one to maintain what was always a shitty, toxic relationship that caused me a lot of trauma.
Now my birthday is around the corner. I was relieved to see I’m scheduled to work that day. I don’t feel like celebrating another year of time lost to other people’s shitty expectations for my life.
I don’t want this entry to make it seem like this is how I am all the time right now. Most days I’m stable and existing in the moment without getting dragged down into that river of depression. I work this afternoon, tomorrow and Sunday and all of that will help me climb back out of this temporary slump.