There is no post that I can write that can properly convey the lump that is in my throat. There is no way to look at you and turn my pockets inside out, bow my head, put a hand over my eyes and let tears leak through my fingers. This is a post that I wish I could put in brackets – I know that things will change, I know that I will be ok, but right now – this is what is slipping through that space between my knuckles and running down my wrists.
I walked through the grocery store last night twice, once to pick up everything I needed, and once more in reverse to put 75% back on random shelves as I was pretending to look at something else. Slipping cheese behind the apples, putting soy-milk in with the corn pops, porkchops with the frozen juice. I added everything up in a notebook standing between tampax and toilet paper, painstakingly calculated the 16 % tax.
I looked at my hands, at my notebook, at my cart, at my things, at my purse, and it was all I could do not to sob. Since when is this where I pictured myself? Since when did I think that at the age that I am that I would be standing crying in front of cheap panty liners wondering if they’d be more cost effective than buying eye makeup remover pads? Exactly where was “dodgy deli meat” in my life plan? When did I forget to learn how to cobble a life and three square meals for us out of a paycheck that was in total, (to the ironic penny) the ammount of tax I had taken off my last paycheck before I left?
There hasn’t been a night of late where I haven’t had a bankers ledger running through my mind, shifting money here, paying bills there, planning and scheming for saving ten dollars here, five dollars there. Constantly plotting for when I can get another job for the evenings, so that we’re covered for rent and can have our cupboards full too.
When did this stop being fun? When did “I’m broke” start meaning so much more than just not having any money, but referred to the actual state of my heart when I look at my bank statement, night after night? I remember when I would laugh about having no money, laugh about scrounging change and digging in coat pockets. Exactly when did being broke refer to my fractured ability to provide for my tiny little household?
I have this constant feeling of late of having made incredibly bad choices. That if only I had gone right to university. If only I had a degree that was somewhat more functional at making me money and not just the worst drinking partner in the world. If I had just not bought those boots a year ago. Choruses of ‘if only’, and ‘had I only’, and ‘I should have just’ cloud my brain and drown out the silence as I lay in bed balancing mental checkbooks and mania with a stupid hopefulness that it will turn around.
The truth is, we’re going on luck. I was lucky that somebody hired my pierced, pink haired self to do anything but work at Wal-Mart in the stock room. We’re lucky that if I don’t go back to school and I just keep working, we won’t have to move home. We’re lucky that right now, our fridge is full and we have each other. These are not things that I have forgotten or discounted or misplaced amongst the wealth of sadness I’m feeling. They are, however, strange and impotent salves to smooth over the incredible burns that reality is brandishing. When I have time to think about it, I think that this is not where I thought I’d be in my life right now.
This is the worst, when the tabulating and shifting and pandering stops. When the ‘could haves’ fall away, when I can’t see the electricity bill in front of my eyes as if it were there, when I’m not planning each meal down to the late bite. It is the worst when I have time to think about what I’m doing. About what I could be doing. About what I’ve done. And how when I think of all of those things in a moment of silence, I wish for all the mental math, ledgers and bills to come rushing back. Because the only answer I get to that question seems to be the same as paycheck at the end of the month. Nothing.
We throw blog parties, and we hope.