I wasn’t feeling grateful on Thanksgiving. I just wanted to sleep in and do nothing. It’s not that I don’t feel grateful for good things in my life. I do experience gratitude throughout the year. I think I don’t like the idea of being forced to express gratitude on one particular day. Generally speaking, I am averse to only appreciating veterans on Veterans and Memorial Days and the 4th of July. I am not in favor of showing appreciation for Jesus only for Christmas and Easter. The same goes for anyone on their birthday, and so on. However, it’s easier to accept that we have holidays to express appreciation for people on special days of the year that are set aside for them, but expressing a particular sentiment on a certain day is different. It’s different because you can still appreciate a veteran on the 4th of July even if you don’t feel like celebrating as much that year. With Thanksgiving, it’s almost imperative to make some assembly of family and friends feel like you are thankful for them.
At any rate, I was really just wanting to sleep in, and had to drive down I-35 to visit my Aunt and whatever family showed up that year. There was my dad, who made absolutely no effort to communicate or interact with my baby boy. There was my pompous cousin from my Aunt’s last marriage, who can’t have a conversation with you without critiquing everything you are doing and suggesting all the ways he knows how to do it better. Most of these people I am not related to by blood at all. They are cousins by marriage or adoption, and it is simply more convenient for us to all gather here than elsewhere. But, the ones who are related by some blood, usually a shared great-grandparent, don’t feel any more or less like “my people” than the ones who aren’t related by blood.
I would argue that I’ve never met “my people.” I’ve always ended up hanging out with the people in school or at work who were kind of the default misfits along with me, for whatever reason–and often their reasons were very different than mine. I’ve never met my people partly because I have never completely been able to define who I am.
The older I get, the more I can see that I’ve allowed parents, teachers, older siblings, so-called friends, bosses, etc. define who I am, and more or less went along with it. Am I more masculine than feminine? Am I more of an intellectual elitist than a populist? Do I prefer being surrounded by nature over a bunch of large buildings and crowds of people?
If I could be anyone at all, who would I be?
I wish I were someone who had a lot of friends, and I don’t. I wish I lived in a large city, and I don’t. I wish I were making more money, and I’m not. I wish I were younger, but I’m not. I wish I could say that I’m having a career, but I can’t. I wish I’d spent so much more of my life travelling, living abroad, and living in places like NYC and SF, but I didn’t.
I am 38, and my patterns of graying and thinning on the top of my head look apace with my cousins who are 20 years older than me. I am 35 pounds overweight. I have repeatedly hopped jobs in hopes of gaining traction at a company so that I could move up and become a manager, and I have not until very recently had any success at this.
I can’t stand where I live right now, but I can’t leave because I am no longer single and free to leave when I want to. When I was single, I was so full of fear and debt and craziness about what would happen if I left Austin, that I never did the whole time I was single.
Look, I try my damnedest throughout the year to be optimistic, look on the bright side of things, and not whine and complain. I get that I don’t change anything by thinking about all of the things I wish I’d done, but at the same time, it also feels like I am just bullshitting myself and covering up serious issues that might well up and cause me to lose it some day.
If you have the ability to never let any regret get the better of you, great. Here’s a gold star for you. But, I’m a realist, and I have my moments of intense sorrow and grief for all the things and people that I’ve lost. And, at the end of the day, I’m hardly expecting life to be perfect, I’m just expecting there to be a few good things that bring happiness–and none of them should be chemicals.