Not here

I think it is going to be a very good thing to take a break from my life this year. I understand why people idealize the solo traveler adventure shit. It is a chance to stop dealing with all of the expectations of you. I’m not going to be alone. But I’ll change the rules.

I won’t have to fucking vacuum a floor for months.

Some of my friends would cheerfully tell me to hire a cleaner and never clean the floor again! I have big issues with that idea. Big ones. I’m not so fucking good I deserve to never fucking clean a floor again. I don’t know that I think you are too good to clean your own floor either.

Yeah yeah, time management. I have class issues.

I feel worry that I upset a friend when I said I could never live in Alameda. She (potentially, I project that she) felt I was disparaging her home. I’m not trying to disparage the town. The architecture is lovely. I hear the schools are fine.

That doesn’t mean I would feel comfortable there. I would feel dramatically uncomfortable living there because it is beautiful and fine and I am not.

I’m aware that people in the 1% would not especially perceive me as “rich”. Compared to everything I knew before marriage I am filthy, stinking rich. It depends on your perspective. That said I will never have the attitudes, morals, and behaviors of a rich person. I have been white trash too long. Could I act the part in severely delineated ways? Probably. But I can’t carry the ruse on forever. My neighbors have to accept me leaving piles of shit around for months.

I’m gross. I think bodily functions are just fucking fine and if you prompt me to apologize for farting or burping I may get mean. I’m not going to accept being shamed over stuff I cannot fucking help. “I’m not shaming you. I’m just trying to teach you good manners.” You are just trying to get me to apologize for existing. Fuck you. If you want to do it, whatever. I’m not going to. Although I would appreciate you not doing it in my house. Here we are all mammals and unashamed of that.

(Not really fuck you. I’m going to be cussing more than usual for a few days. I have some frustrated energy to deal with. I can’t talk about it. So instead I will sublimate a few extra “fuck yous” into every other part of my life. Wheeeeeeeeeeee.)

I have no desire to have the house of a rich person. I would feel wildly uncomfortable. When I am in a rich house I feel like I am there to be a servant. I *have* had that job. (Cleaning houses.)

And it doesn’t really take being that high on the hog before I feel wildly uncomfortable. I live in a lower middle class tract house. Now that I’ve put a bunch of plants in the yard I’m very content. I have a desire for a bigger bathroom, but otherwise… I don’t want a bigger/nicer house.

I would spend my time there feeling like I was polluting it. That house should be filled with someone who has the decency to apologize for farting.

Noah told me that reactions to farting are class based. Rich people pretend it doesn’t happen. Middle class people apologize for it. Poor people laugh. I laugh. Noah used to apologize, now he ignores it.

I feel … not exactly “anonymous” here where I live. I feel … more acceptably average. There are more genuinely poor people here. There are actual derelict buildings. We have a lot of multi-generational living. Most houses in my neighborhood have extended family living with them. Only a few of us don’t.

When I ask to spend time with my neighbors they assume the kids will play in the yard not that we will go somewhere and fork over a bunch of money to be “entertained”.

I have no desire to raise children who expect frequent entertainment. Ha ha ha. Make your own entertainment. As a result they are really good at entertaining themselves. We don’t go to many shows. We go to the park.

We do go to Disneyland. That’s more so I can have the cheerful ambiance, let’s be clear. That good cheer boosts me up. I think as much because I can dream about my next trip on hard days than because being there is actually that magic. Being there is work. But it is work in a friendly environment and I totally love that shit.

I frequently have the feeling “I am not supposed to be here.” I am not part of the “us” for this location. I am an outsider. I do not belong. I should go.

Alameda is like that for me. I recognize that there are good restaurants and good people who like me and other fine benefits. They are not for me. I don’t belong in Palo Alto either.

I couldn’t have a wacky ass yard full of weeds I don’t pull in Palo Alto. My neighbors would make me very sorry. And my kids wouldn’t be allowed to play with their kids. It would be lonely and hard. My behavior would be “wrong”.

No one in my neighborhood gives a shit what I do with my yard. They are nice to me when I’m out front. They stop to chat about the weather and the kids and they admire the flowers. They don’t complain about how unprofessional and unfinished it looks. They tell me it is wonderful to see me playing with the kids. Then they smile and go on their way.

I fucking love my neighborhood. Have I had issues with people here? Yeah. But not big ones. The hardest-to-deal-with issue moved away. They said they were up for being pen pals but we were never given an address and we’ve never gotten a letter. I don’t think they were telling the truth about being up for writing. I really wish people wouldn’t lie.

That said, I totally forgot to write to Pam when she was overseas. Because I am a douche.

I tell her about my life here in the blog! Although, to be fair, when I’m talking to her one on one she gets way more details than the rest of you get. That’s the benefit of sticking around for 17 years.

Well, there are other people who get the same level of disclosure as her. But lately she spends the most time here so she gets the most stories. That’s just how that works out. I can’t put a lot of the stories in writing.

You think I have no tact?

Oh man.

I want to be not-here for a while. Where “here” is my life. I’m not feeling suicidal–which is frankly wonderful. I feel like I got more of a burst of fighting spirit. It’s more that I’m spending too much of my life feeling like I’m about to do the wrong thing and destroy everything. I want a break from this tension.

I don’t know how tenuous the connections in my life are. So I will spread them really thin. And see who holds.

The people who want to come back will come back. And I can maybe not be such a jackass. Ha ha ha. The people who don’t reintegrate into my life… weren’t meant to be. Worrying won’t change what happens. Well, worrying is more likely to make bad things come true.

I need to stop looking around me all day every day with this whining feeling. I feel anxious and like I need to run away before everyone discovers I’m bad, bad, bad, bad.

I didn’t do anything wrong. This time. But that hardly matters, does it? I will do something wrong soon enough. I’m just getting a little bit of it back in advance.

It isn’t that I think I can’t visit places like Alameda. But have you noticed that I start wanting to tidy? Obviously I should be there to be the help. It’s a thing. Ok, that’s a complicated reaction on my part. Part of it is just obsessive control issues. Order! Must! Impose! Order! I’m a lot better than I used to be…

I want to go out into the rest of the country and remind myself that I live in a bubble. A wonderful bubble where I am more safe than I would probably be anywhere else. My specific flavor of weird is so well suited to exactly where I live. Fremont is a small town in a big urban metro area.

So it turns out I have two friends who live on Alameda about five houses away from one another. They all have little girls who are the same age. They don’t know each other.

We know all of our neighbors. Ok that’s not true. There are houses we don’t know. We make up for it by knowing more than 60% of the people on every street within our whole housing development block. I don’t see that happening elsewhere in the bay area. Folks are too pissy about being interrupted. There are a high number of questionably employed people in my ‘hood. Lots of them are retired folks and my kids will get to understand the circle of life through losing these dear people. We’ve already had some have to move into assisted care.

I think it helps that a very high percentage of our neighbors are immigrants and they are thrilled someone wants to meet them. Fremont is the second most language diverse city in the country. In addition to trying to meet the new folks I have introduced folks who have been neighbors for 30+ years. “Stop calling her the Chinese lady on the corner. Her name is _____. Come over here and say hello. Yes, now.” I love playing social director.

One of the good things about hanging out with folks who are in their 70’s… they don’t really give a shit if you throw the occasional temper tantrum. They shake their heads and snort. They mutter, “kids” under their breath and don’t hold a grudge. I feel… tolerated. I’ve talked to the old dudes about being suicidal. They were more comforting than you might expect. They didn’t have solutions or answers but they listened and have been really nice to me for years since. They make a point of walking by and yelling a “hello”.

They want me to stay. So they show up.

I really like my neighborhood. I’m scared of how it will change over 30 years. Because it will totally change. I’ll have to keep being the welcome wagon. Maybe over time the percentage of people I know will increase instead of decreasing.

I think that part of my problem is… I know I’m a lot of work to be friends with. I am hard along a whole bunch of different axis. I do not know how to spell the plural of that word and I’m too lazy to look it up.

I’m always afraid of when other people will run out of spoons for dealing with me and abruptly drop me. They have to for their own self-preservation. I get that.

I think that is one of the reasons Pam feels so safe. She has a huge family that constantly fill her spoon drawer. She has more surplus than anyone I know.

Everyone else has a lot less support of their own. How in the world can I expect them to support me when they aren’t getting the support they need? And I do need a lot of support from friends. I need a lot of listening. I need a lot of accommodation in terms of physical behaviors and verbal mannerisms. I’m complicated.

I get why it isn’t worth it to most people. I really do.

It is hard to see what other people get out of bothering. I get it with Noah and Shanna and Calli. I see the biological imperative I fill for them.

I’m not even fucking any of my friends these days. Why do they bother?

I want to run away from these feelings. But I’ll come back. Because I know that my feelings are lying to me. I know that people clearly love me and find value in a relationship with me. They are still here. Whether I understand it or not is beside the point.

But I really want a break.

The joy of traveling is reinventing yourself every day. The impact of a given mood on the rest of my life is likely to be zero. What-fucking-ever! Freedom.

Not that I plan to act psycho across the country. I want to make new friends and strengthen old ties. But I can be pretty wacky and intense. People can handle intense in a nice, safe, time delineated box. And I come in with my built-in reality distortion field. I have to be “appropriate” for my kids. Which makes for a very specific kind of intense that is different from my previous more inappropriate modes.

Life is always changing. But sometimes it is hard to see how much you’ve changed if you always stand in the same place.