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Anticipation and Agitation
Ever since graduating, I have been reading whatever I want, including Billy Collins' poetry, the rest of *Carry the One* by Carol Anshaw, the science fiction issue of "The New Yorker" even though I'm not historically a big sci-fi fan, and now, a few Dara Horn novels from the library at my sister Deb's recommendation. Otherwise, though, I'm agitated by the bonus time I have. Just writing about it decreases the agitation a bit, though, so I'll keep going.
It's like I'm uncomfortable with sitting still till I figure out how to spend the time. An IBM mentor said, "You could spend more time with Pat, you could become a volunteer...." Another friend to whom I bemoaned my less-than-routine exercise regimen over the past several months said, "Now, you'll have more time for exercise."
I have been trying to spend more time with Pat, though I'm finding that I keep feeling compelled to do more in the work realm to fill the gap, like last night: We were going to eat out and I was doing LGBT Community stuff for IBM past 6 pm on a Friday. And I didn't even realize Pat was waiting for us to head to dinner.
As far as volunteering, do I work with LGBT youth? Do I do something with animals? Do I become a docent?
Certainly, I have more time to blog now. Do I start vlogging (video-blogging)? This might be among my more tedious posts, but it's actually helping me to splay my anxieties here. If I have time back, I need to be using it well. What if I just get swept up into the mindless part of Facebook? What if I use social media as a tranquilizer, rather than as a way to feel more connected to humanity? What if I just become average again? When I was in school, I was special because I was heroic -- working full-time while studying part-time. How virtuous. Now, I'm just another person, going to and coming from work.
I want to be special always. I want not to pressure myself so much. Why can't I just relax? The classic observation that therapists and all of my close friends have made is: "You're very hard on yourself." I want to be more at peace. After all, I'm far from how I was in my early-20s: daydreaming with a spoon of ice cream in my hand, then mouth, then hand, then mouth, telling myself, Any day, I'm going to start writing. And it'll be published and loved by millions, and I'll be famous. A childhood friend remarked recently that she just assumed she'd be famous and it hasn't happened yet. Me neither. Still, since my 30s, I have written and then blogged routinely, have had a creative job, and since my mid-20s, no longer numbed myself with sugar, so that's huge. Who am I trying to convince? Myself.
More to Anticipate Anxiously
The other thing that's happening is I'm feeling agitated about Pat's and my upcoming trip to Israel, which Pat is giving me as a graduation present. I want so badly for her to love it like I do. I find Israel to be an addictive place. I need to go back there at least every decade, now that I can afford to. This is Pat's first trip and I wish I could wipe away her worries about terrorism. She's coming with me to Israel with the same attitude I had about going with her to Alaska: I knew she wanted to go, so I went. Last night, Pat said, "But you liked the glaciers and the whales." She realized that those were the high-points for me. I also liked swimming in a community pool in Juneau and reading on the ship. And the ship's naturalist, who looked and sounded vaguely like Alfred Hitchcock and who gave great lectures.
I keep saying, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, and I hope she is. In addition to wanting to control Pat's reaction to a whole country, I'm feeling anxious about seeing family while we're there. Pat & I have been together for just about 20 years and yet these relatives, other than my first cousin Maishe, who's been here for a Bar Mitzvah, have never met her.
Israel can be fraught with danger for me, too, though different from the danger that worries Pat -- the danger of flashbacks to my early, tortured romantic reaches, all of which were ultimately thwarted there: a lovely Israeli girl at 15; at 20: a Costa-Rican guy on his way to Jewish conversion; a Jewish-American guy, who also went to the University of Michigan; a Jewish-Australian guy with Israeli parents; a French woman, who was also deeply closeted then, and who was also on her way to Jewish conversion; a tall, handsome Orthodox-Jewish-American guy for whom I wore a modest skirt on our one date; two Jewish-American women I met through my program, a couple of months apart; and a wonderful Israeli childhood friend who became a gorgeous, rugged-looking, gracious-acting man -- the ultimate clue that I could not be attracted to men sufficiently to make a life with one.
If I catalog all of this Israel-based romantic fumbling, maybe I'll feel less haunted by it. Instead of feeling celebratory about this trip, I'm feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of being in Israel for the first time with someone who loves me back and with whom I've been in a healthy, 20-year relationship. In all of those cases of misbegotten cupidity, the people loved Israel, but didn't love me. Finally, I'm with someone who loves me, but who does not necessarily love Israel. It's not that she dislikes Israel, it's just that she isn't drawn to it -- kind of like how the objects of my affection in Israel ultimately felt about me. I have to go meet some friends shortly, by 9:30, so I wonder if I will want to write more later, or if I've already said more than enough....