For the last 15 years or so, my mom, her longtime partner, and my aunt have all shared a house together in Port Angeles. You should see the view from this place, it’s perched on a hill and oriented towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A great busy expanse of water topped by mountains can be savored from their windows, with Victoria, B.C. glittering in the distance like a collection of fairy lights.

My mom’s partner John died about a month ago. He was a man of many hobbies and interests and a full-blown packrat, so there has been an enormous amount of stuff to go through. You know: stuff. So much stuff. Papers, miscellaneous electronics, gadgets and equipment and tools, double and tripled-up supplies of various kinds, furniture, and on it goes.

There’s been a lot of work to be done, not just to clear out John’s no-longer-needed things but to go through their collective things as well and make fresh space for an updated living arrangement.

I’m several hours away, they can’t do a bunch of heavy schlepping on their own, and we’re all in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with particularly high numbers where they live — what a mess, right?

Except when I arrived last weekend to help out, the garage had already been largely tackled by a neighbor. While I was there, a friend’s husband came by and hauled away all the electronics, and another friendly neighbor arrived the next morning to take away a full dump run. I’m not even going to get into the whole stranger-than-fiction story of the young car enthusiast couple who bought John’s beloved vintage Thunderbird, developed a lovely relationship with my mom, and are carrying his ashes in the car so part of him can join their driving adventures.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” my mom mused during my visit, and I had this moment of realizing that I have been fully stuck in worst-times mode for weeks now.

THESE times are the WORST of the times, they’re the fucking WORST, I hate EVERYTHING ABOUT THESE WORST-ASS TIMES, is generally how my thought process has been going, and listen, I’m not here to aggressively bright-side what is legitimately a steaming pile of worstness, however:

there are good things happening too, and people who are looking out for one another, and it would probably be helpful to focus on those things sometimes, self.

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I read once about a traumatized baby chimpanzee whose fiercely gripping fingers were briefly pried loose from a trainer’s shirt and then his/her two tiny chimp hands ended up clasped together like glue, so strong was the baby’s instinct to hang on.

This is me, lately. A monkey just trying to cling to something as we’re all propelled along in this shit-tsunami of ever-worsening world events, but I’m scrabbling at ghosts. I’ve been trying to hang on to so many things: my little boys, my not-yet-middle-aged self, a pre-2020 world, a pre-2016 world (even better), a world where there was hope for what a COVID vaccine could solve.

Then there are all the leaking bags of ancient reeking brain-garbage that I don’t want anywhere near me (especially NOW isn’t there ENOUGH garbage already) but I keep hauling them around all the same. The same old stories of worthlessness, station KFKD on full volume. You. Are. No. Good. It would be such a full-bodied relief to lay them down, they have been crushing me under their toxic weight for as long as I can remember, but no. I’ve got them in my chimp grip.

A while ago I wrote how I was hoping for more connection in 2021. Halfway into the year, I’m pretty sure I’m feeling more disconnected than ever. Jaded, angry, sad, disappointed, and honestly just … sincerely fucking lonely, you know?

But maybe more than anything I feel stuck, stuck in my head and in the past and in things I cannot control. Maybe before I can even figure out what’s next, I need to pry myself loose so I have a fighting chance of a better view.

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