In my social media feed, I see your family photos.
You’re smiling ear to ear, sans makeup, your hair a mess, mom clothes frumpy and wrinkled. You don’t work out, from what I can see, and you brag about eating whatever you please.
Your kids look healthy, rugged and outdoorsy. They win contests and are athletic. Your husband, overweight with a duck dynasty beard, flannel shirt and Dickies from Walmart. He wraps his big, strong arms around you by the woodshed.
Even your dog looks messy, happy and loved.
You look confident, radiant and in your bliss. You stack firewood and work on construction projects with your husband. Out for a beer with your mom pals in their frumpy, wrinkled, ill-fitting outfits, sensible shoes, mall store haircuts—you’re all so perfectly relaxed, supportive and content.
These nights, you put on lipstick and a “fun” top. You have girlfriends to talk about your kids and houses and bake sales. You take limos for girls’ nights out.
Are your conversations light and cheerful? I wonder.
I’m a trainwreck.
One divorce and two broken engagements behind me. I let one ex keep our house after toiling over its renovations for years. I ran away with my belongings stuffed into 32 contractor bags. I couldn’t get away from him fast enough; after years of crazy codependency, it was done.
Later, I lived with a narcissistic abuser, had a stalker, and then kept a flat in a building where a dead body was pulled out of the dumpster.
I worked three jobs to keep afloat, and still, I struggled.
I have no health insurance.
To date, I’ve moved 13 times in 39 years.
Currently, I live out of two suitcases and a book-bag, traveling with a musician.
We’ve been to 43 cities in 15 months. Every seven to 14 days, we arrive in a new city, motel, hotel, sublet.
Always moving, always changing.
I see photos of you with your parents doting on their grandkids. I longed for children once, when I was younger; my ex didn’t want any of it. Not until I asked for a separation; then, out of the blue, he wanted to procreate so that I’d stay. I didn’t.
I’m genuinely happy to see you and your clan thriving. Perplexed by it and also in absolute f***ing awe. Your life is like a Norman Rockwell; mine, a de Chirico—confusing, empty, weird.
You live in touch with and surrounded by nature and beauty. I ache for normalcy, comfy clothes, a dog or kitten to cozy up with by the fire. Frumpy flannel pajamas and big bowls of mac ‘n’ cheese. Comfort foods eaten in a kitchen with a vase of tulips on the counter. Chet Baker records spinning as I make homemade pasta and sing along.
I’ve loved people and given my heart. I’ve let them use me, cheat on me, diminish me and toss me aside like yesterday’s pastry.
I’ve let it all happen; I know this.
Now, as I face another crossroad in my life, I can’t help but wonder, how did you get it so right, and how did I become such a f***-up?
Is it too late for me to find stability and peace and calm and, dare I say it, normalcy? Is it still out there, and can I try to grasp for it, like the tail of a dragon zipping by?
I have faith that yes, it is, and perhaps it’s time for me to forsake the open road and let deep roots grow.
Your social media images may be honest or false, yet they’ve inspired me to work towards calm, stable, easy.
So, girl who turned out nice and normal, whose photos I see in my newsfeed, thank you.
Author: Anna Maria Giambanco
Editor: Toby Israel