Happiness Doesn’t Always Come As Rainbows and Unicorns

On Finding Joy in Unexpected Places



Photo by Claire Kelly on Unsplash

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” -Heraclitus

There was a lemon tree in the corner of my old yard. Came as a scraggly gift from a stranger who lived two blocks over from my old apartment four years ago. She’d stapled handwritten posters to telephone poles-adding to the assortment of announcements about underground punk shows and dog-sitters and yard sales. When she opened her door, a strong smell of cigarette smoke and baked beans greeted me. I gathered 5 dying plants from her in an attempt to nurse them back to life. Over the course of a year, one died and I gave three away, but I kept the lemon tree.

Most days, I think our hands weren’t made for texting. For hours of typing. For the internet. They were made for warm presses, tending fires, watering flowers, planting trees, cutting through brush, snapping twigs, sewing patches. I’ve switched out my midnight existential crises and 2:00 am conversations for 7pm dates and lipstick-messy kisses. Traded the bottle for the kettle.

The wish for death has quieted, yet it still beats an almost imperceptible tune at the base of my skull. The restless dream of running away has turned into a hope for hardscrabble labor-to trade this laptop for a lighthouse. For digging into frozen soil and hauling buckets. The want to live without electricity and away from wifi-to work with my body versus solely my mind.

I haven’t called the ghosts in a few weeks, but when the sun leaves at 6:15pm, my fingers twitch to dial their name. What if? A question at once alive with possibility and heartbreak, love and resignation. Occasionally, my feet trip over the heartstrings that used to threaten to hang me, but I’ve gently placed them to the side like the coiled yarn at the feet of my rocking chair. I have not found a basket that could hold them nor can I seem to wind them into neat, little bundles.

My friend and I are on opposite ends of the yard instead of snuggled together under blankets on the couch. We’re shouting across the way instead of giggle-whispering. There have been no skinny-nine-year-old arms wrapped around my waist, no 12-year-old invitations to…