Friday, April 23, 2004

Shrimp are Still Beautiful

My Grandfather and his girlfriend, Alberta, rolled into town in their giant camper last weekend. I was ready for some family time and rented a car to go and meet them, taking time to visit with cousins first and staying with my aunt and uncle in their open, comfortable house.

Work has been so exhausting lately on every level. There's so much to do, so many different type-A personalities to think about, so much to learn every day. My one year evaluation is coming up. My landlord has decided to change the rental agreement. I've started having anxiety dreams again, and I'm considering going on medication for my worry level, because even a year into my new career path I worry about being unemployed again.

I was ready to be hugged. I was ready for the long table filled with family and huge steaming bowls of shrimp boiled with onions and Grandpa goodness. I was ready to see my cousins. They're all so awesome, from Audrey and Jamie, who are my age, down to Ellie who is now three. Ellie's current favorite word is vagina, proving to me what I have always suspected since I first met the kid - we're on the same wavelength. Ruel is into biting people, and Colin proudly peed in the sandbox. And I laughed my ass off at all these things. My cousin Connie just returned from a teaching internship in South Africa, where she saw and tasted things I probably never will. She's ready to start grad school, and I remember how much I loved grad school. How could that have been over two years ago now? My aunt and uncle both took time to tell me how happy they were to have me spend the night at their house. I felt very loved.

On a whim I drove up to Nashville after that huge shrimp dinner, crashed Kati's welcome home party, hugged her and kissed Underdown and slept next to The Republican. The next morning I took my youngest sister out for some individual attention. We bought shirts at Bongo Java, and talked about the social politics of twelve year old girls, which are vicious. I hugged her and told her that she was one of the neatest people I've ever known, and always has been from the minute she was born and I held her after mom and dad did. It's hard for me to watch Abby, who has always been self-confident and original, who fought for her right to wear wigs to second grade, become unsteady and unsure of herself because of peer disapproval. I'm watching one of my favorite people approach the politics of Junior High with impending dread. I think she'll make it through OK. I'm going to reassure her a lot. But Jesus Christ, Sixth Grade...

I remember once Aral and I had a discussion about leg shaving. And basically I realized I shave my legs because I'm afraid the girls I knew in Junior High will come back and make fun of me if I don't. Thank goodness I grew up, that I now have unlearned all the lessons Junior High tried to teach me.

My life really is wonderful , you know? I live in the part of town I love best, and I'm considering getting an apartment on my own. I'm making money and although the job is stressful, it stretches my mental muscles constantly, challenging me and forcing me to learn again and again. I have a boyfriend who sent me a dozen red roses Tuesday for no reason other than that he was thinking of me. I am loved, I can buy whatever I need from the grocery store, I can drink coffee and read comics on a Friday night with impunity.

Of course, I worry too much that I'll lose all this somehow.

This week I worked so hard and so much, spending two nights away from home with my immediate supervisor. The next two weeks will be no better, and I'm thankful that I had the foresight to schedule some vacation time, next Friday and Monday. I'll go camping over May Day weekend with The Republican. I can think of nothing better than stretching on the warm green grass next to him, under the sun, eating strawberries and laughing about any goddamn thing.

All of that fun? It's made possible by my incredibly stressful job. I have to learn to celebrate that hard work, because as much as it wears me out psychologically, I'm definitely enjoying the benefits I get just by keeping on with it.

No comments: