Don’t get me wrong. I’m not “terrified, freaking out, what the hell?!?” kind of scared.
Not “uh oh, the fuel gauge is on E, I wasn’t paying attention and there are no gas stations for miles, only the sounds of banjos playing” kind of scared.
Not “where did I leave my baby/dog/keys/purse/eyeglasses” kind of scared (but don’t you just HATE when that happens?).
Not “the test is today and I didn’t study” kind of scared.
Not “I can’t for the life of me remember what I was supposed to do and I’m in trouble for forgetting” kind of scared.
Not “Freddy Krueger is in the house and I’m hiding in a room with only one way out and no closet nor windows” kind of scared.
Not even “I’m watching the original Poseidon Adventure movie and I’m 8 years old and I’ve only seen Disney movies with princesses and talking animals” kind of scared.
(That’s a real thing by the way. I’m talking nightmares. for weeks).
So, back to my point: I’m scared but not for the seven reasons named above or anything relatively ordinary.
I am scared because for the second time in one year, I find myself without a plan. No Plan A, nor a Plan B.
So don’t even ask me about Plan C. Ain’t happening.
As Commander Adama used to say on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica
(man, I miss that show
), when he wanted a very brief explanation of everything in short order and just the highlights: “SITREP!” That’s short for Situation Report.
The fact he doesn’t even bother saying all the syllables and just barks “SITREP” always impressed me. I thought, “That is so cool. Like a BOSS! Just says two syllables and everybody stops to give the old man the low down. Cool.”
So here’s my “SITREP:”
- I need a full-time job and a place to live (in that order, preferably).
- My unemployment money is running out, probably right around February 14th. Valentine’s Day.
- I have already moved five times in 20 months: first to Danbury, then back to West Hartford to convalesce after a seizure, and then back to Danbury, then to East Haven…
- Then, last summer I moved to The Bronx(it’s at the top of the map; you know, “The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down!” No? Fuggedaboudit)…
- And now I am in Marietta, Georgia.
- My roommate here in Georgia, who took me in after I realized I could no longer afford a New York City apartment without a New York City salary, is moving out. Our lease is up February 14th. Once again, Valentine’s Day. And that’s fitting, because she’s in love, which is wonderful. She and her boyfriend are moving in together, and I’m very happy for them.
- So, her moving out of this spacious two bedroom furnished apartment means I am, too. I don’t earn enough to afford the rent by myself, I didn’t find anyone to be a roommate and, frankly, it’s a little too dark here for my tastes. But it was home.
- And now I’m not sure where to go. My dream is to go to my real home. Where my kids live, with their mom.
She’s the reason I don’t live there now, and she’s the reason I had to leave our home on May 1, 2013. I didn’t want to. But I certainly wasn’t about to kick the mother of my children to the curb, and she couldn’t live with me as I am.
And I am living as I am. There is no going back, no more than you’d ask a butterfly to wear a cocoon because you liked her the way she used to be.
I’m blessed to have had offers of help, a room, a couch, some money, and prayers which mean more to me than anything.
But I need to find a job. As much as I know I have to find a place to live, I must find some kind of job before the benefits run out and a bad situation gets worse.
A few hours ago, I got a text about my youngest son, age 8. He opened the fridge door and asked his mother, “where’s all the food? You need to go get some. I’m hungry!”
His mother didn’t share this to make me cry, but how could I not? My little boy is hungry and sees clearly that we don’t have what we used to. We’ve made it this far on the generosity of friends, through trips to the food bank and the occasional paychecks I collect for doing my two part-time jobs, and from her jobs as a teacher in a public school and at our Sunday school.
This cannot continue. I cannot draw money from our severely limited funds to rent another apartment, and yet I know returning to our humble home will make life difficult for at least one of us in this strained, almost 19 year marriage. That, too, must end (once we can afford a divorce), because the butterfly must go on flapping its wings.
Last night, I dreamed I was that free, to fly where I wished. I was nothing special, and yet that made me feel so wonderful: I was welcome in the clouds among the flying things that didn’t care whether I could always fly, or had just learned how to.
I dreamed of soaring over the heads of my children, seeing them looking up at me, laughing, filled with joy, my own face grinning at their smiling faces, and knowing the love they felt for me could rise up into the sky to touch my faraway heart.
I dreamed that this was not a dream, but a wish fulfilled. One that allowed me to descend into a careful, deliberate and smooth flightpath, sticking the landing in a wonderful hangar where I could do what I do best.
With my wings, I painted on a blank, electronic canvas all sorts of fanciful ideas and songs and spiritual, soul-enriching concepts, which in turn filled a cauldron of edible emotions and fermented barrels of liquid ecstasy, as a calliope of words filled the air.
And when I awoke, it was not with a bright smile, but to face a dark truth: I do not have a safe place to land. I cannot fly where I wish, and I am not accepted in the way I wish I could be.
Most importantly, and to the point of why I am so very, very scared: I do not know what to do next. I can’t stay. I can’t go home. I don’t know where else to go if not home. I can’t get my bearings, and damnit, I need to find my bearings.
“A good producer always has a Plan B,” I often said. “And a really good producer has a Plan C, too.” I can easily hear my old voice saying those words, over and over in my 30 year career in the broadcast television news business. I was a good producer. But right now, fuggedaboudit: I don’t even have a Plan A.
What shall I do?
On Sunday, I received a priest’s blessing (I’m a recovering Irish Catholic). The week before I did penance, after making my confession. I’m all ears, God. Anytime now, Let me have it! I’m here… okay, ready! Are you there, God?
Sigh. Must be talking to Margaret again.
Well, for right now, my plan is to go to bed.
To sleep, perchance to dream (oooh! I so wish I could take credit for that!) and to wake up tomorrow giving thanks for another day.
And maybe, in a few days, maybe I’ll find out whether dreams really can come true.
Marietta, GA, USA