From the very beginning, we promised each other we would be at the top of our “game” and live every second “in the moment.”

“We don’t have time to be depressed about our situation,” we agreed.

And we don’t. I’m clear that we certainly have all the room in the world to be sad, depressed, angry, disenfranchised, lost, ashamed, moody as all hell, immobile, deer in headlights, walking zombies… and a whole slew of other messy emotions. Of course we would feel that way. OF course we would want to give up, because SCREW YOU, WORLD! Of course it freakin’ sucks. Of course we’re tired and it’s not fair and we have every right to be pissed off and bitter.

The other morning I woke up feeling some of these things. I felt like over the prior week I had taken an emotional turn towards the negative. I was angry at the world. At Obama for not helping us, at our situation…. Tired. Frustrated. And I didn’t want to get up another Monday morning and head into to my temp job for five straight days of filing.

Then, exhausted by my own attitude, I thought: “I could just be happy.” I’ve had friends lose their spouses at a very young age, others pass away long before their time, friends lose both their parents… so for me to use this financial hardship to justify being small, petty and at the effect of my life is just not a possibility. Yes, things can always be worse. They can always be better… who are you going to be about it today? On Monday, I chose happy.

Here’s how:

I get out of bed, remind myself that I really love life and turn on The Big Chill soundtrack. This cheers me up. I crank it up loud. Bob is in the other room checking his e-mail or something. I can tell he’s in a mood. Like I was. And it occurs to me that my sudden change in attitude– my cheerfulness might actually annoy him. But I soldier on. I begin to sing with the music and dance. I do a little saucy dance for him in my bra and panties to cheer him up. He just looks at me as though he’s thinking:

Turn the f——- music down and leave me alone!

I don’t let it stop me. I try to get him to dance. This is not happening.

SO I go back to the bedroom and try not to let his negativity piss me off (I’m happy, you should be too!) After all, I was like him a few minutes ago. I know how irritating it is when you’re in a funk and someone says in a nauseatingly cheerful voice: “Just look outside at the beautiful day!” You suddenly want to shoot that person in the face. Or at least tell them to go look outside if it really is so beautiful.

I sing in the shower. I move my body. How great is The Big Chill soundtrack, right?! I mean, does this work for anyone else? Because it is really working for me. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling like I can face anything. I’m feeling alive. And… happy.

Bob drives me to work (we’re down to one car) and I’m being as cheerful as possible and trying really hard not to be annoyed by his funk. He, likewise, is trying hard not to be annoyed by my happy-go-luckiness. We kiss goodbye. And I go face my day with open arms. I’m good.

I keep this up all day. It’s in my body now– my positivity.

When Bob and Pablo pick me up from work at the end of the day we decide to take a detour. Instead of getting on the freeway, we drive north through downtown on Main Street. From the bowels of the Garment District, through the fringes of Skid Row and the new Tribecca-esque edge of the Art District, past Olvera Street where they’re filming something… a commercial, perhaps, past the California Endowment Building (I love that building) and the old post office into Chinatown and north on Alameda to the new park.

This park is amazing. This is where the public art installation- the corn field- used to be (“Not a Cornfield”). Yes, there was an actual cornfield here. Now it’s a meticulously maintained 32-acre park with several walking trails, desert grasses, a field of wildflowers and open stretches of grass between Chinatown and Lincoln Heights. Sandwiched between the 110 Freeway and the warehouse district- a place I would not want to stroll through at night. It is, we’re told by the signs, the site of the original Los Angeles train depot and hotel and is named the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

I take Pablo’s leash and break out into a run. We run from the beginning of the park to the wildflower meadow. I’m wearing my work clothes- a dress, tights and flats and I’m running. Pablo’s loving this and so am I.

We stop and wait for Bob, take in the scenery. The Metrolink train, Dodger’s Stadium way up the hill just west of the park; To the south- Chinatown and then the skyline of Downtown L.A.; to the east, old warehouses- some dilapidated, some restored; and north- a bridge. I don’t know what bridge, but it looks like quintessential L.A. The bridge, the hills- Palm Trees.

Bob catches up with us and we walk the path through the wildflower meadow (that happens to be fully in bloom) and encounter a woman in a vintage gold lame dress posing in a very Postmodern, I’m-not-posing sort of way for a camera. A photo shoot for a portfolio? A headshot? Facebook profile picture? She’s no make-up in a gold lame dress. She’s blooming wildflowers and dilapidated warehouses.

It occurs to me, this is how I feel. I am a dichotomy. Nature and city. Old and new. No make up in a vintage dress. Barefoot walking through a field of tall desert grasses– the rough edges of the city in the near distance. Everything quiet. Breath held. Time suspended.

Right here, right now I’m happy. I have everything. I have my fascination, my curiosity, my need to always know what is around the next corner and my ability to enjoy it when it comes.

NOT A CORNFIELD – Official Site
LOS ANGELES STATE HISTORIC PARK- California State Parks

 
 

2 Comments

  1. Posted March 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful post. And, yes, I LOVE the “Big Chill” soundtrack. It can be SO HARD to have a positive attitude, especially when your partner is in a funk. Sometimes, I feel like there’s this equilibrium to be kept…and if he’s down, you really have to be up (and vice versa) or you’ll both go nuts. It sounds like you were able to CHOOSE happiness (I totally believe it’s a choice). Like you said, things can ALWAYS be worse, but that’s neither here nor there really. In fact, when people tell me that, I get annoyed. It’s not about the random things that COULD be worse. It’s about the here and now and your perspective about it. Your current situation does suck, but it doesn’t have to mean life sucks, or that your mood sucks (though I would say you’re totally allowed to have crap days, as we all are). I’m inspired by your attitude. It’s great. I know I could use a dose of that more than sometimes.

  2. Posted March 29, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Kim. I hear what you’re saying about “things could always be worse”… you’re right. It’s about the here and now and your perspective about it.

    The dynamic between couples when one is up and the other down is something that fascinates me. Because it seems to always work out where when one is down the other is up. I guess what happens is that if we’re both down, one of us will rally to uplift the other. I think it’s unconscious because it usually just seems to work out that way. And when it’s not unconscious. When it takes an actual effort, that’s where the power of choice comes into play.

    Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments!!

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