A day in which I don’t write leaves a taste of ashes –Simone de Beauvoir

These strange plague days, I sometimes feel as though I am choking on the ashes of the fires of the last two years. I’m not talking about trees burning, though at least 16,000 acres of forest have burned around and near Flagstaff. I’m talking about the deaths of friends – all younger than I am; about the incineration of civility (If you doubt, drive I-17 from Kachina Village to town almost any time of day on any day.); about the death of any joyful anticipation that might involve being around strangers.

       I once relaxed after a day’s work by going into town to shop; for support meetings; to walk the trail at Buffalo Park; to grab coffee at Macy’s; to sit on a bench in Wheeler Park and watch people show me stories. That is, I once relaxed. Those islands of ease are either badly altered – or gone. Of course, I know that I’m not alone in these losses.

       And, of all the losses beyond the deaths of friends, I miss stories the most. I’m bored with my own thoroughly explored and worn-out story. I’m too observant and cynical to write the standard Old Woman Talks About the Losses of Age and then has an Epiphany story. Besides, I’ve noticed, as you may have, that all those perky op eds are written by women with sufficient income.

       And I refuse to write about the constant companion of my current days. Fear. Irrational fear. Groundless fear. Diffuse fear. Fear which I have harbored since I was eighteen. Fear which evaporates for a few seconds when I lost myself in my work; leave somewhere; go on-line or start the car. Insidious fear, sneaky fear – after all, I am writing about it here after refusing to write about it.

       So, I’ll write about how hard it is to be alone so much of the time. I’m shocked at the intensity of this almost visceral anxiety. I came West in 1985 to live alone after at least twenty years of being a divorced mom and the willing sole support of three children. I occupied my solitude joyfully – for nearly every moment since I had arrived. And I fiercely protected what was once referred to as “my space.”

       Now? Ah, but I’m in peril of repeating myself.

       As you might have begun to realize, this Breakthrough is a request, damn near a plea, for allies. Not allies to give me tips about what I can do to get rid of this fear; but allies who might be going through their own gray Now. Please send me your stories of Now – to shebetsherlife@mail.com

       Thank you. Mary


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