In spite of my reticence to accept that my childhood had any effect on me as an adult, I did realize pretty early on - say my mid 20’s – that I was much more comfortable when my life was in a state of chaos or great flux. Drama, whether it was over work, over a guy, any kind of upheaval in my everyday routine, was a familiar state of being, much easier to cope with in many ways than a more even keel, dare I say, routine and boring. I didn’t know how to function in an everyday, quiet, peaceful manner. I would get antsy, anxious, depressed if things were just – again the word – routine. I didn’t feel satisfied.
Of course, I knew this somewhere in the depths of my being, but I never would have been able to articulate it. I would know it, acknowledge it and then shrug it off as if to say, “well, yeah, but that’s just because.” I didn’t give it any further thought. Instead, I looked for some way to shake things up, anesthetize my feelings by going shopping (read “spend money I didn’t have”), eat, make sudden life decisions (“things would be so much better if I just went back to school”), or incubate under the bed covers while watching movies or bad TV.
It was times like that that I would pull out my box of writing that I’d done, determined that if I just focused, I could be productive and become the writer that I’d always thought I’d be by now.
And if I only had a boyfriend – the perfect boyfriend – then my life would be all right, because, of course, I was ready for one and it was time already to catch up with my same age college friends.
These were desperate times.
My mom likes to recall when I lived by myself for the first time in a rented studio apartment in downtown Sacramento, the only part of Sacramento that has any character to it and which is vaguely reminiscent of San Francisco. I had the top floor apartment, hard wood floors, ceiling fan and all, with a big window that looked onto the leafy treetops of I Street. For a studio, it had a full sized kitchen with room for a small table and a door to separate it from the living/bedroom. After a while I even managed to fit a futon and coffee table in the main room so that there was a sitting area rather than just my bed. Additionally, the bathroom and closet area was partitioned off by French doors which allowed for a small dressing room. All this for only $325 a month. It was a great apartment and my mom fell in love with it, with me, with my seemingly happy-go-lucky 24-year old life in good old Sacramento.
It was one of the best and unhappiest times of my life, the best because of the beautiful picture it painted, and the unhappiest because my insides didn’t reflect the picture outside.
Life was pretty routine back then. I didn’t have a lot of friends in Sacramento. I had no boyfriend, only hopeless crushes on men who wouldn’t return my feelings. My highlights were my weekend trips to the city, San Francisco, or Los Gatos, where my college friends lived, and suddenly my life was amazing. We would pretentiously go bar hopping in Pacific Heights, picnic outside at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, always with wine and brie and olives and strawberries, or walk through the local art galleries in small town, high-rent Los Gatos. At those times I was important, I mattered, I was somebody. But always, by the end of the weekend, I had to face the inevitable drive back to Sacramento, through Vacaville (cowtown) and to the loneliness of my studio apartment with all its nice touches and decorative reflections of the person I wanted to be.