Last night I was laying in bed reading another silly Anita Shreve novel. This one is set in New Hampshire, specifically the part of New Hampshire that I lived in for over a year. The story centers around the towns that crisscross the New Hampshire/Vermont border from the middle of the state upwards. The action in the novel occurs during a very cold, snowy winter in the hills. There are driveways that people can't get up, even in ambulances, and the ice is an omnipresent character in the story.
I laid there and thought, "Now New Hampshire is a perfect place to be very, very sad." All that snow, ice and freezing temperatures seem to encourage long periods of introspection and depression. People close their doors and hole up in their houses. The lack of friendliness in the town's people only personifies the belief that you either, "Live Free or Die" in that state. Independence is cherished and any sign of public weakness should be crushed out immediately like a cigarette butt.
It really is the kind of place where you could go quietly insane and no one would notice. The neighbors might find you once the ground thaws and the snow melts, but it would be too late by then.
Then I started thinking of all the places where I was unbelievably miserable. The places where I experienced chest tightening anxiety attacks and self-hatred so extreme that I rarely got out of bed. Places where, at times, I functioned only on a life-preserving level. Certainly, Lebanon, New Hampshire tops the list, but it's closely followed by McCall, Idaho - Telmen, Zavkhan, Mongolia - Oxford, England - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Friendswood, Texas.
Wherever you go - there you are. Unlike the airlines, your being never loses your baggage.
My baggage is a slightly different from other divorced/single parents that I've met. My baggage doesn't have needs. My baggage doesn't call me to tell me that it needs money or emotional support. I don't have to respond to my baggage and I can go weeks pretending it doesn't exist. My baggage can't keep me from seeing my son because it's in a bad mood (really, we all know that depression and it's twin, anxiety, are rarely in good moods. That's contrary to their nature). It can keep me from enjoying my time with Zac and from appreciating the joy and beauty around me, but I don't have to ask it to file a joint tax return or for extra time on the weekend to be with my son.
The flip side of this coin is that no one claims Zac and I as "family". There is no former partner that I can call that will stop everything to support us, even if they don't love me anymore. It's Zac and I. I make all the decisions, even though I yearn to be in a family of my own making.
I want someone to say that they will always love me - no, love us - regardless of the mistakes I make.