Shortly after the whole nervous breakdown/divorce/get the nuts out of my house debacle, a friend of mine took my tearful ass out to catch a cup of coffee. Over coffee, he asked me simply: “What do YOU want?”
I sat there stunned, holding two packets of Equal, googling at him as though he’d suddenly grown a head from his shoulders.
“What I want?” I sputtered when I finally could make my vocal cords work again.
“Yeah,” he replied. “Becks, what do YOU want?”
Slowly, I shook my head side-to-side. No one had ever asked me what I wanted, unless they were looking for an answer like, “An Uncrustable,” or “John C. Mayer’s head on a platter so it cannot sing “Your Body Is A Wonderland EVER AGAIN.”
I didn’t answer him; I couldn’t.
Not because I didn’t want to respond to the question, but because I hadn’t thought about what I wanted in many years – that’s part of being a parent, a writer, a wife, the caretaker to many – you don’t have the option of putting yourself first. It’s not a dig at any of those roles, it simply is. How can you possibly nurse a migraine in a dark room with an icepack on your head if it’s going to lead to resentments from your partner or simply impossible – thanks to a gaggle of kids who’d prefer to poke you in the eyes and ask the same question 10382 times? The answer is that you can’t. Not often, anyway, and certainly not without a glistening pile of guilt.
I’ve been living on my own for a full month now. I have enough to pay rent (although that bitch Sandy is going to sorely affect my ability to freelance, considering NYC apparently looks like a zombie apocalypse has swept through it), which makes me beyond proud. I did it. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone, but I was wrong – the fear is a lying liar who lies.
In one month, I’ve spent more time thinking about the future I want to have, The Happyness I need to find, and what happens next than I have in 9 years. I’d put all plans for having my own life on a shelf, just out of reach, once I got married to a workaholic, popped out two more kids, and began blogging as a way to find the community, the friends I so desperately craved.
It was a full life, but it was a lonely one.
That’s not to say I have regrets – I don’t. But I’m left grasping at straws and rediscovering who Becky Sherrick Harks really is, beyond a mother, freelance writer, leader of a non-profit and blogger. Certainly these jobs I cherish, but we all know, Pranksters, that there’s more to be done. I don’t want to be an old woman, sitting on the porch, wishing she’d taken that risk, chased that dream, followed her heart.
So I won’t.
Divorce doesn’t mean that my life is over; that I’ll never find love again, I’ll be stuck in front of the TV night after night watching Dexter reruns, pretending to be married to men from television. Divorce doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to become a crazy cat lady or hoarder or a recluse who collects her pee in jars. The things that have changed are those that needed to be changed in order for the next part of my life to begin. It’s time for me to find those dreams left trapped in a jar (clarification: not pee-filled jars) on a shelf somewhere, dust off the cobwebs and figure out what, exactly, I want to do with the next chapter of my life.
This is my life to live. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or next week. I don’t have any way of knowing if the dreams I once had will have stood the test of time. If they have, I will chase my heart. If they have not, I will find a new dream. Life has a weird way of working out like that.
I can hardly wait to see where it takes me.
It’s been no secret that I’ve been depressed.
I’ve stared at the blinking curser on a blank blog page, all Imma talk about it I don’t know how many times (at least twice), but realize that whatever I say will be all wah, wah, wah, bleeeerrrggg, because I’m not depressed about things that are entirely fixable with anything but time. I’ve done my best to keep my head up through the storms and keep one foot in front of the other – that is, when I’m not too busy falling over kitchen appliances and giving myself minor concussions – and keep on truckin’.
It’s the only thing I can do.
So instead of telling you my laundry list of things that have been depressing and/or heartbreaking, it’s time to take a gander at depression through the ages. That way, when I’m sad, I can stop being sad and start being awesome again.
Depression, Age 10: “Wahhhhhhh, I broke a lace on my new skates and now I have to wear these rental skates and NO ONE will want to slow-skate with me because I’m going to be all stinky-foot on their asses. These skates smell like at least three people vomited inside of them. How does that even happen? I need my mom to buy me a new pair of these kicky shoes – Chuck Taylor’s. That’ll help with this OMFG humiliation of skating in barf skates.”
Depression, Age 15: “Wah-Wah-Wah, I’ve just dumped this guy that I OMG loved so much with all my heart and I just knew we’d be together forever even though we only were “together” for a night or whatever, but he’s SUCH a good kisser and I’m SURE he’s my soulmate. I know we’ll work out*. In the meantime, I need some kicky motherfucking shoes. AND, I need my friend to pee in his mailbox. Clearly. Oh, if only I had a social network thing to quote very, VERY meaningful song lyrics and/or quotes that remind me of my lost looooovvvveee.”
Depression, Age 20: “Holy fuckstick, I got a baby in my belly and he’s all dancing on my bladder and shit and I have to pee two ounces every three seconds, and if he’d just lay off my liver, things would be okay again. Well, that and a simple, “Congrats!” from anyone – kinda sick of these angry looks. I’m twenty years old, not thirteen. I bet a new purse would do wonders to cover up my gigantic ass. Who the shit gets pregnant IN THEIR ASS?”
Depression, Age 25: “Ha! TAKE THAT! I proved those motherfuckers wrong – I raised that baby up, I got married and I graduated at the top of my nursing class. With the whirlwind I’ve been living in, I don’t see AT ALL how I didn’t notice that working as a floor nurse might just make me homicidal. Oh, and autism kinda sucks ass – I thought it would be better once I had real time to devote to the kid. Oh! I know what’ll help – ANOTHER BABY. So why can’t I get fucking pregnant?”
Depression, Age 30: “I got this. I may be miserable, but who the fuck wants to think about that shit? I can totally just push it on back there and be all, “MY LIFE RULEZ. It’s important that it has the “Z” in RULEZ, because obviously. No one needs to know how shitty things are, even IF I do have a social media network to whine on – who wants to read that? I bet a joke about squirrels in diapers would TOTALLY cheer me up. I should tweet that shit.”
Depression, Age 32: “Starting over again, huh? Not the way I thought it would be. I could put up some inspirational shit on my social media networks, but that might make me stab myself in the toe with a blunt fork. Who cares if “tomorrow is a new day” if today, like all the days before it, has sucked ballz. YES, ballz needs a “Z.” Why? Obviously. Being this whiny means I should probably shut my whore mouth until I’m able to say something awesome again. So that’s that – when I get sad now, I’m going to stop being sad and start being awesome.”
*he had a tiny wang – think pretzel rod, Pranksters – and we never did get back together. Thank the Good Lord of Butter. Bullet motherfucking DODGED.
(when you can’t find me here, you can find me here, which has some rad guest posts on it. Why? Because when I get sad, I stop being sad and start being awesome. Duh.)
We’d been tasked, The Guy (at the time) On My Couch and I with wrangling the children outdoors because the window guy was indoors, ripping out our old drafty windows and installing brand-spankin’ new ones. The house was an investment, and we couldn’t WAIT to have windows that properly opened and shut so that we could do things like, “feel the warm breeze” without the cats jumping out the windows in a desperate effort to save themselves from our formerly white (WHITE!) carpet.
(Pointless aside: who the fuck installs white carpeting? Answer: not I)
We’d spent the day gardening with el kids (a couple of neighborhood kids thrown in for good measure), laying down grass seed and puttering around doing old people shit. Dave, on the other hand, was indoors working on something very important – perhaps a game of Civ 5, I can’t be sure – I’m no gamer, so they all look the same to me (read: equally baffling).
Finally, we sat in the garage, sweating our nards off and talking to the window guy who was done with the install for the day. He explained that he was waiting for his partner to come and pick him up, but that he’d be back tomorrow to install some whoo-dillys and whacha-ma-callits. I just nodded, happy to be out of the blistering sun and away from the bugs, if only for a moment.
Soon enough, a child-napping van pulled up into our driveway – perfect for both kidnappers and tradespeople alike – and his “partner” popped out. When I’d envisioned “partner,” I assumed he meant an older, more grizzled version of himself, someone who likely wheezed upon any exertion – like getting out of the child-napping van. But no, his partner was a woman.
She practically ran into the garage, begging to use my bathroom.
“Sure,” I said, sympathetically. My parents had performed a procedure when I was quite small in which they replaced my own bladder with a squirrels, which means I have to pee approximately every four seconds, while somewhere, skulking around Illinois, is a squirrel who hasn’t peed in over seven years.
“It’s right behind this wall,” I gestured. She dashed inside as we continued talking shop – a euphemism for listening to someone who knows a lot about whoo-dillys talking wildly about Mr. Gadget shit while I sat there, nodding and trying not to drip sweat into my eyes – with the Window Guy.
The minutes crept past us as we jabbered on, The Guy On The Couch and The Window Guy, while I began counting the mosquito bites that had formed a particularly awesome pattern on my legs. Soon, my mind drifted and I began to look for patterns in the bites. Just as I thought I saw Jesus composed entirely of mosquito bites, imagining the lines of people who may line up to see my legs and pray over them for upwards of two days – or until the bites subsided – she flew back out of the house. She’d been gone so long I’d assumed she’d found Dave and had begun to talk to him about video games or sealing wax, or other fancy stuffs.
“Thanks again,” she said to me, as I nodded sympathetically. “I’ve been holding that a REALLY long time.”
“No problem,” I said to her, “happens to me all the time.”
“Yep,” The Guy (then) On My Couch affirmed. “Her bladder is the size of a Fruit Loop.”
The Window Guy and his partner made their way back to their child-napping van, where I hoped they would go home WITHOUT kidnapping innocent children, and I turned to The Guy (then) On My Couch, “Holy fucks, I gotta pee, motherfucker.”
He looked at me, deadpan, “This is my surprised face.”
I flicked him off on the way into the cool house, the sweat on my face practically freezing as I walked indoors and into the bathroom, ready to evacuate 2.5 ounces from my bladder.
It hit me like a freight train as I flicked on the bathroom light: the incredible, unmistakable stench of shit. I googled a bit, eyes watering, before closing the door and turning the fan on. Didn’t need that getting out into the general circulation.
After I made my way to the upstairs bathroom and back to the garage to watch The Littles, I pulled The Guy (then) On My Couch aside, “Holy balls, Ben,” I said, “She dropped a HUGE deuce in there.”
He laughed, “Really?”
“Yup,” I replied, my eyes wide as dinner plates. “I’m kinda shocked.”
“Me too!” He agreed with me. “Who goes and takes a monster dump at a complete stranger’s house? Isn’t that what gas station bathrooms are for?”
“Yes,” I said, eyes still open so wide they nearly fell out of my head. “That and weird creepy gas station bathroom sex.”
I thought for a minute.
“It’s always my fucking luck,” I confessed. “Or maybe it’s everyone’s thing – I can’t seem to find a bathroom to use that someone before me hasn’t taken a warm, steaming dump. I’m always fucking afraid that stench is going to get in my hair. I can’t TELL you all the times I’ve walked into to a bathroom to take a pee and I’m stuck gagging at the remnants someone’s dinner from the night before.”
“You do pee a LOT,” he replied flippantly.
Not really acknowledging what is, apparently, common knowledge, I continued. “But do you know what’s the worst?” I didn’t wait for a reply, “It’s when they’ve used that canned air freshener shit and I’m sitting in peach-scented poo. That shit never works like it’s supposed to – rather than mask the odor, it just ADDS to it. Fucking gross.” I shuddered as I dry-heaved a little. “Blech.”
He just nodded, laughing too hard to reply.
A lifetime later, a company sent me yet another bizarre item, which I promptly put into my box of items that were to be moved to my new home. As I was taking very little from our house, save for one set of the couches and a few odds and ends, I’d happily accepted anything anyone wanted to send me. You never DO know what you’re going to need.
The PR rep would occasionally email me to ask me about the item, which was called “ReJuvenescence,” and I promptly ignored her emails – my life was in boxes, and no, I hadn’t had a chance to try their new product, which sounded, each time I got the email, like something you’d use on your vagina.
Finally, once I was settled in my new place, I unpacked the box and stared into it – a little shocked. The wee box was filled with toilet paper plastic thingies (sadly no toilet paper). The instructions informed me that I was to peel some stickers off, pop a roll of TP on them, then relax and enjoy. Or something like that, I don’t really read instructions.
I wrangled the thing onto my toilet paper holder, curious as to what the nuts it would do. I hoped that it would:
A) Sing to me
2) Clap and/or cheer
73.7) Return my bladder to normal, human size.
It did none of those.
What it did do, however, was make my bathroom (and subsequently) my toilet paper smell kinda… nice. Not like that bullshit pine tree air freshener “nice” (which only serves to remind me of my days as a teenage delinquent), but sorta… good.
But let’s be honest with each other, Pranksters, I’d be more impressed if it sang Christmas Carols or various versions of the Pina Colada song.