The last day of February was 50 days from the first day of my 30th birthday road trip. I changed the plans already, slightly – I’m leaving a day earlier and adding a stop in New York. I’m not sure why, really. I explained the decision to someone – I didn’t want to drive the full 14 hours in one stretch after all, I wanted to see Niagara Falls because I’m a goon, etc – but I don’t think either of those is correct. Not fully, anyway. I think the truth of it is that I’ve been trying to find something to look forward to, and even this trip – this trip that I have until recently, been looking forward to, been using as some kind of ridiculous beacon, was starting to not be enough. So I amended it, hoping that would be enough. Hoping.
I’ve been so stir-crazy and uncomfortable lately that I tried to worm my way into a work trip to Tampa for a few days this week. I offered my skills as a person who knows how to set up an office network and is willing to drive 14 hours to do it, but that didn’t pan out. Luckily for me, probably, because I think my desire to leave town was fueled in part by the very specific irrationality that sets in when a person (or a person like me) has been in a very specific kind of physical pain for a long, long time.
I went to the doctor instead, and tried not to be too obvious about the fact that I wanted – badly – painkillers. I got a shot of Toradol in my “hip” (read: “I got a shot of Toradol in my ass”) and immediately got sick, but I also got the hydrocodone I needed and my surgery was rescheduled for a date two weeks earlier than originally planned. Not only does this mean I only have until this Friday to prepare for the emotional fallout that will come with the stupid things I know I’ll say as I’m coming out of anesthesia (I am, unfortunately, familiar with the way this goes), it further confirms that my body is a disgusting mess. Great!
A new Fleet Foxes song came out yesterday. I won’t pretend I had any strong feelings about it beyond “I can’t believe I’m going to try to listen to a 9 minute long song this early in the morning” and an impulse to put a reminder in my phone to try to get presale tickets to their Merriweather Post Pavilion show with Animal Collective, because I didn’t until I read this interview with Robin Pecknold.
In counseling the day before, I had talked at length – for longer than I have talked about anything in awhile, I think – about how this past weekend sunk me deep into feeling like there wasn’t really any value in trying to make meaningful connections with people, because – without getting into detail too deeply, because this is a story that is tangled up in like, my entire personal history and my existence as a person within the context of my family – to make “meaning” in situations like the ones I have been consistently putting myself in (because I’m afraid of being alone but also afraid of pursuing new and potentially healthy relationships) is to accept and commit to a life like the one I thought I was getting the opportunity to avoid when I moved for graduate school. That life being, to put it most simply, one where I fall, over and over, back into habits I need very much to not depend on as antidotes for the shame I feel when I walk willingly into relationships that function only as long as I’m willing to give of myself to my own detriment.
This is unfair to everyone and it is a superficial (and stupid!) way to live. Constantly trying to find a purpose in negative situations is exhausting, and the solution sounds easy: stop doing it.
Anyway. That interview. When discussing the themes of the new Fleet Foxes album, Pecknold says
I’ve struggled at times with finding a solid, objective reason to live, or I should say I’ve struggled with the notion of needing an airtight reason—almost anything you cling to can be explained away with logic in one way or another if you’re crafty enough. So that has meant coming around to making my own meaning, and finding meaning in connection to other people.
Lyrically, a lot of the album deals with perception, and the difference between how I have seen the world and how it actually is, in terms of people or situations or self-assessment, or any other permutation of the problem. As I get older I try and take people as they are and project less onto them, either good or bad, not make damsels or heroes or villains out of people who are just individuals doing their best with the hand they’ve been dealt.
Not to put too fine a point on it, or to say here that I need to find something #relatable to make myself feel like maybe this struggle – this desire to find (or not find) “meaning” in people – isn’t one that’s unique to me, or whatever, but: the timing was useful. For me. Gave me something to chew on. I guess. Thanks Pitchfork.
Speaking of timing: I opened instagram this morning, and the first image that showed up on the search page suggested I tell my anesthesiologists if I smoke weed. Guilt coming from all angles this week, man. Can’t even trust social media algorithms these days.
Did I say something about not wanting to listen to a 9 minute long song early in the morning? I made it home at 6am on Sunday and spent an hour and fifteen minutes with this:
I don’t know what I was thinking.