According to weathermen and the mayor, the recent snowstorm was supposed to have apocalyptic effects on New York City. In reality, a small amount of precipitation collected while a bunch of us got to “work from home” and Netflix probably experienced what I’d imagine was an apocalyptic surge in views of “Friends” and “Gilmore Girls” (because I know I would want to finish both of those series before the end of the world). I made it through the first half of Ross and Rachel and even got to the beginnings of Monica and Chandler, so I was pretty impressed with myself. But what I do find annoying about this lack of a storm is the collections of slush that have accumulated before every crosswalk and don’t seem to be going away.
While walking down Lexington Avenue the other day, I found myself hesitating before one of these puddles, trying to decide what fancy footwork would soak my toes the least. Despite the dreariness outside, I was in a great mood. I really don’t have much to complain about lately. Football season is over and Missy Elliot has returned to popularity, so all is right with the world in my mind. But I wasn’t exactly pleased when some woman slammed into my back during this moment of pause. I immediately had two thoughts: “typical fucking New York” and “fuck you.” Just like that, I went from grinning to glaring, glaring at a woman who probably made an honest mistake (or she was the worst).
I’ve been trying to be keenly aware of any dramatic shifts in mood I’ve been experiencing over the past couple of weeks, and there’s been quite a few of them. The other day I was sitting in a meeting at work, and all of a sudden I felt so happy I wanted to cry. No one gave me a promotion and my knight in shining armor hadn’t entered the room (umm, still waiting, dude), but I felt as if both of those things had happened at the same time.
It would be kind of nice, albeit overwhelming, if this were the case all the time, but in the past it’s been sadness and shame so strong that I haven’t been able to get out of bed. I know people say that a lot, that they can’t get out of bed, and we all have those days when our pajamas and our daytime clothes are one in the same. But when those days happen again and again, it gets old pretty damn quickly. It happened so much for me that I almost got used to that routine.
It’s not that the sadness ever became easy to handle, but at least it was familiar. What I’ve never really become accustomed to are the rapid changes: going from glee to loneliness to heartache to appreciation, all in the course of a day, maybe in the course of a few hours. It scares me, because I don’t know what’s coming next. And it takes me out of the moment. I appreciate the happiness a little less while I’m waiting for the sadness.
Regardless of what the mood is, it can be charged with an energy that’s difficult to explain. I’m wound up when I’m happy to the point where it’s uncomfortable. I’m one of those annoying people whose voice gets louder and just a little bit faster when they’re in a good mood. I become far too similar to a valley girl than I’d like to admit. And when I’m low, my words and mannerisms are shorter and tense. I’m like a less cool version of April Ludgate, who, if real, would rule us all.
All I wanted to do for so long was escape that energy, which is why I found different ways to numb out, which is why I secluded myself, which is why I chose to step away from my life. I still do those things sometimes, but more often than not, I take my feelings at face value and work with them instead of against them. When it comes down to it, the grief is going to pass and the good spirits are going to return. And life is not a constant wave of extremes. I focus on the depression and the exhilaration, but there are more tolerable moods that lie in the middle. These moods are where life is really lived.
The other night I couldn’t sleep. I woke up and felt nervous, nervous for no apparent reason at all. I was returning to the extreme, and my drowsiness left me ill equipped to deal with it. The night felt intolerable, and in a way it was. But in another, more real sense, morning came. I went to work and had a productive day, and caught a show that night. Things were no longer terrible because I didn’t make a desperate dash from my feelings. I just let them happen. I recovered from an episode of depression that in the past could have kept me in bed for days.
And now, as the Friends theme song fills the walls of my room, I feel settled and calm. I don’t know how I’ll feel in a few hours, or maybe a few minutes, but perhaps I’ll be able to deal with it.
Peace and love,