There’s a thin layer of frost that ices the glass between the window that looks out of the airplane. From my seat I can look down and see the gentle folds of green and white, the valleys that rest between the Swiss Alps. We’re touching down in Zurich and I am “home” after spending the month back in North Carolina.
After leaving the mild, sunny days in Durham, the dreary dampness creeps into my body as an added insult. It’s a reflection of my own depression.
I’ve had a month full of medical appointments to tide me over for the year. Scans and skin-checks, blood draws and head shrinkings, all of the things I do to make sure my body is well. None of them, even my psychiatrist appointment, measures the condition of my heart or can really prescribe for my soul.
Two years abroad and maybe it’s finally the point where it really sinks in that I am on my own.
On my trip back to the U.S. my friends ask polite questions, but I can tell the newness of someone else’s adventure wears thin. There’s only so much vicarious travel one can do.
Some I’m sure feel abandoned and frustrated and want to give up on a real, working relationship.
I don’t have the answer to this.
In the end, I only know that my husband works in Switzerland and I want to support him. And so I pack everything up and stuff it into my luggage and board the plane. My carry-on bag is a false motif of braveness that I push in front of me like a shield.
What’s hardest is that it feels like I am really losing people in my life who I love dearly. How is that possible in this digital age of Face Time and Facebook and texting?
The plain truth may be that it takes more than words, more than intentions even, to be intimate.
Relationships need skin-on-skin time.
There is a freedom in running away from home, from leaving your past, your old stories, behind. You can hide, re-invent yourself, forget, move on.
But sometimes I think moving on is really just being afraid to stay in one place and face the hard things.
At least today that’s what I’m thinking. Ask me tomorrow and I may tell you that living abroad is a great way to get in touch and truly find yourself.
I don’t know.
I think some people think that my blog is too personal, too much information, and maybe an exercise in self-absorption.
Today that feels like it might be true.
But I hold onto it anyway, like a talisman. And I pass it along as a bit of advice.
One of my friends in the U.S. is depressed right now, and she asked me what to do, to give her some kind of advice to get through it.
I tell her: antidepressants, therapy, exercise and a UV light box. All good, right?
But the other answer might be: accept where you are. Embrace the depression. It’s just another part of who you are. Open up a little space to feel what you feel and see what else might come up.
I don’t want to tell her that this is the harder way. But it’s the only way I know.
I also tell her about my writing; I tell her that writing my blog is a way to bring the shadows into the light and that putting down my thoughts and feelings is a way to see a bigger picture, one with room for improvisation.
Well, I’m doing that today. And maybe it would be more appropriate for a diary, but here it is.
But I tell you this truth about myself, my pain, my struggle so that maybe you’ll read it – and I can picture you doing that – so that I’ll feel a little less alone.
So today, in a few minutes, I’m going to layer on my wooly running clothes and step out of this little apartment, and lock the door behind me, escape the stale atmosphere. I’ll stride onto the wet street and make my way down to the river. I’ll trot along the banks and try to peel back this tough rind of disappointment, in what I’m not entirely sure.
I’ll fill up my lungs with crisp air, get my pulse to skitter up a notch, and hope to free up some space inside my body to feel something new, and hope to move the pain along so as to make room for something else, anything else, damn it, other than this.
And I’ll hope for a little grace along the way.