I realized this week, that the last time I had more than three sequential days off (without working) was in 2015. Remember the good ole days when people were actually allowed to take vacations? Freelancing didn’t allow for it. And then my corporate roles insisted that I could… but gave me a sense of peril when trying to schedule those days.
I like having a paycheck. So, if your company says you have vacation days and you NEED to take them, that’s awesome. My corporate experience has been that what is said never aligns. I guess you can look at that as job security maybe. Not that I am important, I just do a lot of work that is relied upon daily.
While I’ve had the days, I haven’t taken them. It is easy to manipulate someone with anxiety, with just the smallest suggestion that you really DO NOT want them to take time off. Or that booking vacation can be a detriment to your job. Not that it is legal to say that; but they are good at hinting at it with enough foreboding peril, that I acquiesce.
Let’s Get Out of Town
One of the things I really like about my boyfriend is how social he is. By day, he’s an IT dude that understands when I geek out about software, or website development and stuff. I like that I don’t have to explain the technical things. He’s kinda smart, among other attributes I really dig.
A great blessing to my world, because not only does he drag my hermit butt away from my desk, he understands anxiety. Like REALLY gets it. I have to say that I’ve never met a man willing to do the homework on it. Without being asked, he’s been learning Lori 101 by watching my reactions and learning my triggers. And in general, just trying to understand me.
So when he suggested I attend a gig he was playing in San Antonio, I wasn’t sure. I mean, I have started freelancing again and landed some new projects. Things are adverse at work (in general, there are a lot of upheavals and people are dropping like flies around me). People I liked. A lot. I soak up the fear and apprehension like a sponge.
Free Airmiles meant a free hotel room. I got my somewhat trustworthy dog sitter to let out the dogs three times to facilitate giving their mom some much-needed relaxation time. With someone whose energy makes me feel safe, cared for, and who is fun AF.
Yeah, I really like him. I am going to try my best to keep him for a while.
Note to dogsitter? Check! Cash for her services? Check! Cleaned my house and did my laundry too. So that I could relax on Sunday when I got back. Except, I had 4,500 words to try to get done for my new 30,000-word writing project. Which will pay for the deductible on my car.
Meet My Girlfriend the Narcoleptic
When I am stressed, I don’t sleep well. And I have been stressed for a long, long, loooong time. Sometimes I just look at other people and their lives, and I guess assume that they have it easier. My BFF points out that everyone is stressed these days; I’m just transparent about it. While others lock down the hard stuff, for fear of… being human? Dunno.
Dressed cute, we headed from the hotel to the metal bar. It was kinda beat up and cool. I liked it. There was a massive crowd, and my heart was happy for my boyfriend. It’s always exciting for indie bands to play to a full house. And it was standing room only.
Alcohol was involved. So were several nights of not sleeping in the past week. Also hoovered some carbohydrates, was low on water and hadn’t taken all my meds during the stressful week. Including my vitamins. Why was I tired? My brain did the math… and then promptly called me a dumbA$$ for not taking better care of myself.
Wanting to be the cute (never cool) but passable girlfriend cheering him on, I struggled to stay awake. In fact, I found myself in a cozy spot (no chairs) leaning up against a wall to the left of the stage. Sort of backstage. And prompted to fall asleep standing up. Repeatedly.
At the end of the night, we headed downstairs with some of his band. I finally found a chair (good thing too, my feet were killing me). And the fight to stay awake continued with me dozing off in the chair repeatedly. I guess I make a great impression. “Meet my girlfriend the narcoleptic!” No, Brent would never say that, but my inner narrative would.
A hot shower in the hotel followed by a quick semi-narcoleptic snuggle. Something magical about those arms. I can just doze in them, and then get embarrassed when I start to fall asleep. Why? He kinda likes it when I do. Says it makes him smile. But with two busy schedules, I don’t want to miss any minutes of my time with him. But my energy meter is beyond tapped right now. It’s flashing red.
I slept well in the lovely hotel room, beside one of my newest (and clearly special) people in the world. He has that magic.
Thinking About Life, the Universe, and Things
In post-divorce financial recovery, it makes sense to have a day job. More than ever, people are freelancing. Most fulltime. This also means the competition for freelance work has never been greater, as the global economy continues to struggle. The pandemic? Russia vs. Ukraine war? A recession is coming and we all know it.
Because I am paying off debt, I have an obligation to make a lot of money. I want to. What I consider to be a lot anyhow. Or as much as possible. Because I view that as a path to expediting my financial recovery. Getting back on track. Buying a house again sometime soon. All the things.
And savings. I used to be such a diligent saver. The “why” is adversities, and I will leave it at that. I don’t even have the energy to recycle what doesn’t matter. My war on the wallet has begun to alter my reality and get back to savings, no debt, and other things that make me feel safer. Even though for some reason, safe is the last thing I feel. Blame my neighborhood maybe.
I have crazy ideas sometimes. Living below my means accomplishes my goals. So, my apartment is super small and cheap. It’s not in the worst area of Austin, but definitely not the best. And unexpected expenses in June left me feeling deflated:
- Mover #1 bailed on me halfway through to do another higher-paying job. Thanks, Task Rabbit! I still left him a good review because… I’m a doormat apparently. But that meant an extra $380 the next day for a mover. A man that was supposed to come with another dude; didn’t. I worked just as hard as he did UP and DOWN to my new third-floor apartment. God, I thought I was going to die. I was so exhausted.
- My new apartment had air conditioning! YAY! For two days. I had to purchase a portable unit for $500. Well,$180 cash, and the rest same as cash with no interest. I still have to pay off the other $300.
- A tree fell on my car. Wait, I mean some heavy limbs demolished my hood, dinged up the side panels, gouged my windshield and roof. It was so nice of my property management company to clean up the debris. And not let me know their dead tree had done damage. Did I mention they are shady AF? But then again, I think I have the cheapest apartment in Austin. Choose your poison. My deductible is $500.
So, June presented another $1300 in bills than I anticipated. I was already tapped from paying the new deposits, etc. That as they say, is life. BUT DID YOU DIE? Nope. It took a bite out of my energy (you try unpacking in 96F inside temps!… Ugh!). But it also took another bite out of my spirit. That shit was hard AF… and I did it alone.
Time Together In The Proximity of Positive Energy
Despite being emotionally and physically exhausted lately, it didn’t put a damper on my one-day vacation. Because he drove, I crooned (badly) to some favorite songs. Made him laugh. Had deep conversations. And now on Sunday night, I have these warm flashbacks.
Like a man that reaches for you in bed to hold you. Automatically. That touches my heart, the way he (without being weird) likes to have physical contact with me. This is new to me. I like it. And the way his hand finds mine often. And when I look at him, he’s smiling.
Laughter. We both share the same sense of humor. Sometimes dark. Social commentary. Observant. The fact that he is creative is so nice. And his inner narrative blends well with mine. We end up in stitches and LMAOs often. It’s kinda cool.
Calmness. Now there are three things that quiet my restless anxiety-prone mind. Being near water mutes the inner narrative and allows me to be in the moment, in the embrace of nature, and peaceful. Diane. Yep, my best friend has a Zen-like quality about her personality that takes me out of Defcon 1. Quickly. She’s the wonderful energy I feel, even when I just hear her voice.
And this Random Guitar Dude. He makes me relax and feel peaceful, happy, and content. It doesn’t feel like infatuation. It feels like this uncommon ease between us. We get each other. And it keeps getting deeper which both makes me smile and triggers concern. Vulnerability feels uncomfortable.
You Don’t Need Me!!!!! (How Cool Is That?)
But then again… I’m not the same woman anymore. I’m approaching life with no rigid expectations right now. Surviving. Plotting the part where I start thriving again. Learning to really love myself again and forgive myself for the shit my heart got me into, by believing in love.
Somewhere in the drunken ramblings, last night was something profound I stammered to him.
Me: “I like that we don’t need each other.”
Him: “What does that mean?” His brow furrowed and I tried harder… to explain what I meant which was far more beautiful in my head than the way it came out.
Me: “Woah, okay, what I mean is that you aren’t looking to me to fix your world. And you know I am also independent AF… I don’t NEED you. You don’t NEED me. Our lives work. But I WANT you. I CHOOSE to spend my time with you because it makes me feel good. And I think I make you feel good too.”
[Insert relaxed smile and those gorgeous eyes that take a softer shape when he hears me be incredibly sloppily romantic and ineffective in my communication… shocking for a writer].
Him: “I get it. I feel the same way.”
Me: “Supposed to feel that way. That’s what the love of equals is. I mean, how I think that’s supposed to be. Choosing not out of necessity… wanting, but not needing. Imma stop talking now.”
And we did. But not before he slide my hand into his and gave it a gentle squeeze. My heart smiled, but I said nothing.