All of my emotions, no matter how normal or beautiful, are truly tiring. They change and switch so quickly, sometimes feeling like a tacky, well used game at an arcade, where you drop a coin in the slot and watch as the lights flash wildly and gears turn until they all stop and land on a random number that shows how many tickets will be spit out. After hours of collecting these tickets you can trade them in for what becomes the most expensive package of silly putty or paper airplane you’ve ever owned.
For me, every so often, something triggers a response in me, and that response drops the coin into the slot, and the gears turn as a new emotion is chosen, until a little bit later a new coin drops in. Happy, afraid, excited, disappointed, depressed. anxious, obsessive. The last three are the scariest, causing me to either cower under the bed or expose my cat claws from their soft hiding places.
Today, and most days lately, I was feeling very other. I don’t really know how to describe it, except I don’t feel like me. I’ve been feeling very uncomfortable in my own skin, and when I’m hyper focused on my body, all productivity ends, creativity shuts down, and I’m trapped like a prisoner inside these thoughts. Throw in my OCD and things feel like a lost cause. They lock arms and join forces, and all of a sudden, everything is over, I’ll always be like this. I’ve also been feeling very discontent with my art and creative process, and I start writing all of these essays but can never finish them.
This past weekend I was supposed to be filling out an interview on my little business, Drift and Dwell, explaining my process behind it. But the secret I’m keeping as I’m trying to sound ok and excited is that I don’t even really like the medium I’m using anymore, and I was exploring other ideas of what it could become, but then everything shut down. All through the interview I’m trying to sound convincing and genuine while secretly harboring the fact that I haven’t created something new in weeks. And I have no desire to. So very unlike me.
I was working today, and around noon three old ladies walked into The Station. They were radiant, and you could tell that they had years of friendship saved up between them; it was smooth and seemingly effortless. They moved in sync with each other. They took a few slow laps around the warehouse, commenting on how beautiful things were, about who’s granddaughter would love this or that piece, and how vibrant the plants were. They went on and on about the plants--how healthy they looked and how so and so used to have them in their garden. They would shout, “come here! You have to see the patterns on this leaf!” or “You have to see these colors! Have you ever seen a plant like this?” Their conversation made me feel so happy and pleased to see The Station bringing these ladies so much joy.
While two out of the three walked ahead, the youngest one came up and told me that the oldest lady had just lost her husband and was very depressed. The two other ladies kidnapped her to have an easy, carefree day together. They had been friends for a long time and wanted to surround and lift up their sad friend. I was brought back to all the times my friends and family dragged me out of my dark hiding places and helped me get in the light, regardless of me shielding my eyes from the sun. The warmth felt good.
They spent almost an hour at The Station, and eventually I was roped in to reaching for things off of high shelves, zipping up the back of dresses they tried on just for fun, and looking up facts about certain fabrics and plants. Their presence filled me.
At the end of their visit, the oldest one came up to me and boldly put her hand on my cheek, cupping my face gently and playfully. She asked me what my name was and I suddenly realized that I had never introduced myself and I didn’t know any of their names either. I told her that my name was Rachel, and she smiled and said, “I should have known. You are exactly a Rachel.”
She patted my cheek and walked away as the group talked about how they were about to get ice cream. And in that moment, my heart filled up because despite feeling confused and lost and very other, I was seen, noticed, and confirmed that I’m exactly a Rachel.