I can be highly resistant to change in some ways, while blindly and happily plunging into the unknown at other times. There seems no correlation between caution and success, so I can’t credit instinct for random pigheadedness. The latest thing I resisted was upgrading my phone’s operating system, which automatically took google maps off and replaced it with another, unknown version. You know what they say about the devil you know.
I finally updated my phone and found the new version of maps is almost identical. I gained some features, lost some — it’s a wash basically and the new one might be better. The way it told me to drive home from a weekend trip to see family in another state reminded me how memories linger and fragments remain oddly intact. We drove past not one but three places I used to live long ago. Near the traffic light by the apartment my husband and I shared before we were married, I thought of our cat when he was a kitten and how we couldn’t leave pennies out because he would carry them away in his mouth and I was afraid he would choke. Driving near another old apartment, I saw a mall I had all but forgotten about and tried to come up with some memory of shopping there but could not. I vividly remembered the time my husband chased a peeping tom through the parking lot of that old apartment complex with a baseball bat. When I later drove through a part of town I lived from birth to kindergarten, none of it looked familiar. I had the sudden compulsion to turn right and drive until I saw something – anything – that looked familiar, but I did not.
I was flooded with memories from my grandmother’s house too. It still smells the same as it did when she lived somewhere else altogether, proving my memory isn’t about a place so much as it is the people we were back then. On the drive home, I had such vivid recollection of a chilly, wet Sunday and sitting in the backseat of her giant silver Thunderbird while windshield wipers screeched across the glass and my grandfather flicked his cigarette ash through the open window. My grandfather is long gone, but I still have my grandmother, or part of her anyway. Time changes people, eats away at them a little like old memories. Because of this, I’m glad I made the trip with my girls to see her. I felt more patient this visit and my grandmother seemed calmer. My girls ran between the hydrangeas in her backyard, playing some morbid hunting game that you’d never guess based on how carefree and happy they looked.
This morning I woke up from a terrible dream that had nothing to do with the weekend, so I’m not sure where it came from. It’s just an issue I still struggle with and I wrestled with it this morning over coffee and then decided to do something I’ve never done before: I let it go. My grandmother might be prone to psychic dreams, but I am not and feelings aren’t facts. One of the things I’m learning I need to practice is restraint of tongue. Just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because it hurts to keep it in, doesn’t mean I should blurt it out. My girlfriend calls this “emotional barfing” and I think there are certain people it’s safe to emotionally barf on. These people are usually far removed from the emotions being barfed up. Quite enough talk about barf, yes.
These disembodied feelings continue to crop up almost a year from when they first started. I used to think people were full of shit at meetings when they talked about not feeling things when they were newly sober. I had maybe three months then and I was feeling plenty. But after time, I realized what they meant. It wasn’t a total absence of feeling before, but maybe the ability to escape whenever I wanted that kept most pain at a safe distance. It took a good five months for uncomfortable feelings to float back down from wherever they’d been, and the intensity I felt at the time surprised and scared me. Still, this small voice at the back of my head told me they’d go away if I just acknowledged each feeling, which was tied in with some painful memory. Honestly, I had no choice but to hear them. They were very loud. They did go away, though. Some never came back. Some came back in more complex ways, which let me know I was dealing with that pain or discomfort on a more evolved level. I guess this can be called growth.