Friday, December 7, 2012

On Day Dates and the Christmas Blues

You may not think the two are connected, but trust me. I'm an English grad student. I will find a relationship between a lovely, day-long date with my dude and feeling bummed out around the holidays.

It all started when our brilliant friends, the Lyons, posted that they were looking for a couple to shoot for their photography workshop. Thinking (incorrectly) that I didn't have to work on Thursday and assuming (bravely) that Rob could take the day off since the music industry basically shuts down for the holidays, I volunteered us. If you know Amelia and Justin, you know they are the coolest and talented-est, and you get why I would be willing to do anything — even get my picture taken — just to hang out with them for a second. (One of my little-known super powers is that I look amazingly awkward in most photos. Body dysmorphia, nose get the idea. Luckily, the Lyons have a super power, too. It's making dorkusses like me look decent. Moving on....) 

After failed attempts at the sock bun (disaster) and false eyelashes (├╝ber-disaster), we headed down to Huntington Beach to meet up with the Lyons and their pupils. It was just lovely ... like taking a hot tub time machine back to the day when they took our engagement photos almost five years ago. And for a minute, I was 24 again — working toward a promising journalism career (ha!), driving a car that still had a mat in the trunk since it hadn't yet been wrecked three times, never having to work on the weekends, always trying to "lose three pounds".... No thesis to write, no need to juggle multiple jobs, no crippling fear of inadequacy (truth: it was there, just lying dormant). No well-meaning friends telling us that it's OK that I just turned 29, we can still probably have a family if I get pregnant before I turn 30. No reason to wonder if I should feel bad that we still live in a teensy one-bedroom apartment and don't have enough money to fly ourselves home for the holidays. For one day, my anxiety disorder took a break, and we got to just enjoy being together with our friends, watching them be passionate and knowledgable and generally amazing.

Here's where the Christmas Blues come in. It's a thing. Definitely a first-world thing, since other people less fortunate than I am are too busy to feel bad about their lives because they're out there digging up blood diamonds with bare fingernails. But Christmas Blues can happen. Even to someone like me. My life is good! My husband is nice to me. My dog loves me so much that he wants to live inside my mouth. I have access to almost every modern convenience of the industrialized world (except a bidet...but soon...). And I'm surrounded by loving friends and an extremely supportive (if extremely dysfunctional) family. And yet here I am, sinking like Artax in the swampy mire of my perceived insufficiencies.

But now, here's where I snap out of it. It's time to stop comparing myself to the shining, happy people on the Internet. It's time to get off the futon, brush my teeth, and find a way to make someone else's life easier. It's time to remember that even though we only have a handful of days off together every year, sometimes I get to have a whole entire day with Rob in Huntington Beach, where the world looks like this:

Huntington Beach Pier at Christmastime.

That is something to feel very, very good about.


Victoria Blanchard said...

You are a really good writer. I wonder if God lets the lives of people who write well be a little uncomfortable and complicated (I said a little, I'm with you on the whole we have first-world problems thing) because he knows with our writing we can create some good out of anything.

Gretta Whalen said...

@Victoria: You are the sweetest thing. It's one of best feelings in the world to have a good writer tell you you're a good writer. I hope writing can create some good. I can't make a difference like some people can, but I can think, and I can write, and maybe my writing will help others think, too?

Anyway, you're one of my heroes.

britta said...

Fight against the sadness Artax! You have to fight against the sadness!

Or just let yourself seep down into a warm gooey bath of quicksand.

Jen said...

You know I adore you. But casually referencing The Neverending Story may just take my adoration up to borderline creepster levels. Still friends?

Gretta Whalen said...

@Britta: I bet a gooey quicksand bath is good for chicken pox.

@Jen: Duh. Super good far away friends.

Zen Mama said...

Oh I adore you and understand almost everything in this post as though you wrote it for me. Here's the funny thing about anxiety: even when what you thought was the root of your problems is gone (for me it was the unending struggle to make ends meet in California) the anxiety doesn't disappear. But the good news is that sometimes it does shut up. I think you guys need to move to Texas. I have a guest room you can crash and it's next door to the piano room.

(Heather posting from google account because blogger and wordpress don't hold hands anymore.)