Not alone

I have been having a tough time, friends. The Tubbs fire that ate up half my hometown is now listed as the most destructive wildfire in California history. It’s jarring and heartbreaking to see my hometown as a statistic in the news. I’m not used to looking at The New York Times, for example, and finding a map of my hometown, complete with the names of everyone who died.

I feel so lucky that my parents and our house are okay. But I also feel horror for the people who lost everything. And for the people who went to bed on Sunday night and then died less than 12 hours later. My town will never be the same. I have no idea what to do with all of that. As I go through my daily activities, I get stopped by random memories popping up in my head. And then I have to stop and think: is that structure still there? And then I have to shake it all away and try to remember what I was doing.

On top of that, I have some other stuff going on (such as: “OK Potassium, you really need to figure out what you want to be when you grow up…”) that’s been gnawing at me and keeping me up at night.

But this weekend, two things happened that gave me a break from all of the insanity. First of all, Cobalt and I went to Portland.

Cobalt helped our friend F move to Portland on Thursday. I followed them after work on Friday. I drove by myself through the Columbia Gorge. It was super windy at first, then kind of rainy, and then the clouds cleared and I was driving into a gorgeous orange sunset, complete with tufts of fluffy clouds rising off the top of the gorge. Plus the fall colors scattered around all the evergreens made a stark contrast to all the gray. I almost had to pull the car over because I was that stunned by the beauty.

Somehow I made it to Portland and Cobalt and I spent the evening with our friends M and P. We had Korean BBQ for dinner. Then we drank a glass of wine and watched The Shining in the dark while M’s and P’s cat purred loudly on the back of the couch. I found myself breathing deeper and snuggling into my blanket. For the first time in weeks, I felt at peace.

The other thing that happened is that I got a group text message from two of my childhood friends. We’ve been group texting since the day of the fire. But I realized on Sunday how amazing it is that I’ve had these friends my whole life and that we can be honest about what’s going on for each of us. It reminded me that despite feeling anxious about everything going on in my life, I am not alone.

About the picture: I have been doing Inktober on Twitter. That means I have to draw a picture in ink every day of the month of October. This picture was from Mental Health Awareness Day and it’s called “You are not alone.” I like it because the shark on the side is kind of nebulous. Maybe it’s not even a shark? I think that’s often how I feel when I feel depressed and anxious: all my anxiety is so clear to me that it’s hard for me to see past it to bring anything else into focus.

One last thing. This blog is 7 years old this week. WAAAAAAT. Oh and also I defended my PhD thesis 3 years ago today. Geez…

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