My partner and I are currently between cities; in the process of leaving Seattle and finding a new city. Our roots are raw and recently cut. It's hard to be without a real home. It's even harder when I get sick.
I'm sick today and I was sick yesterday. I thought I might not be for a full 12 hours. But i was wrong. I suited up in an unapologetically dapper ensemble and took my sweetie out for fancy french food. It was excellent except for the vapid couple sitting next to us prattling on about the pounce of internet speculation. Though even through that my companion and I enjoyed exchanging mutually disdainful looks. My partner tweeted about his fears and cynicism surrounding the tech culture and ruthless gentrification in San Francisco.
Neither of us want to live here but the job might be the right thing for my partner. So for now, we tolerate it.
After dinner and the 3 tablets of acetaminophen one of the waitstaff was kind enough to give me we left to go to a party. It was a party hosted by my partner's employer and the second one of this type that I've been to.
I had great conversations and even remembered a lot of people's names this time around. I was having a good time but found myself a bit lonely.
My partner was doing some "work" (having private conversations and bolstering confidence of students and coworkers). This meant I had less access to him and ended up talking to people I didn't know very well. I don't mind this, but it takes energy.
And I like the people my partner works with and for. They are friendly and think well of me. This is apparent in every interaction I have with them. But the conversation fatigue set in much faster than I'd anticipated. But I miss the ease of a crowd that include people who're already my friends. A social slight completely unintentional and certainly indiscernible to anyone but myself started me down a spiral of thought about how I don't belong.
One of the funny on-topic things I'd tried to put forth didn't fly and was passed over in favor of input from a community member. In that moment my joviality came crashing down. I made myself some tea and crawled out to the fire escape to spend some time alone. It was restorative but even then I felt my muscles shuddering softly in fatigue.
It took us an hour after that to leave. The long good byes were very long. We got wrapped up in an engaging but ultimately draining conversation about health insurance (which only served to remind us of how very uninsured we currently are). I knew I was tired when we got out on to the street. I let my partner talk as we walked toward the BART station. I wasn't really listening and found myself grateful that one of my partner's friends accompanied us and that they conversed while I could concentrate on walking.
When we got on the BART I felt good to be away from the party (crowds can be an big energy suck) I felt almost normal, minus the slight nausea and high sensitivity to the hot stuffy atmosphere of the train. My partner and I spent the whole ride back to the East Bay barely touching staring sappily into each other eyes. I was grateful for this elongated moment of emotional intimacy.
Unfortunately the instant I stepped off of the train I felt my energy crash again. On the escalator up to the terminal my partner stepped up to embrace me and I said "No. Too close."
The escalator up to the street was out of service so I had to climb the steps. The first two seemed fine, but each of the 25 or so after that seemed to threaten me with upheaval. I had to stop at the top and rest for a moment to make sure I didn't hurk.
During the seemingly endless four blocks from the BART station to our for-now-home in oakland I had a hard time walking and talking at the same time. The poet in my tried to consolidate what I was experiencing "I feel like a ghost".
My lungs worked half time, even the slow steps I took shortened my breath considerably. I felt my heat beat like an echo. The lag in my body's transmission of sensory information made legs clumsy and inarticulate. My marrow turned heavy like mercury in my bones. Last night was the first time I've ever asked a loved one "will you help me up the stairs?" If I'd had any energy left to feel I might have felt ashamed. But all I had room for was frustration and effort.
I wish I could just talk about just one of the three things that happened to me last night. My sickness, my social anxieties, my partner's bitter fears about career/location/health insurance, but all three happened in a drawn out mixed up progression that left my heart exhausted and my body ghostly.
This afternoon there is a part of me that thinks "maybe I shouldn't have gone out last night." It was extremely spoon-expensive and nearly drained all my bodily resources. I had no idea how fully it was going to take my energy. But ultimately I'm glad I could and I'm glad I did make it out last night. I'm lucky to have had the small burst of energy I did. And to have the energy I richly enjoy most of the time.
Fancy clothes and fancy dinner, flirty party conversations were worth the risk and the cost. But it's important for me to talk about that cost. At the end of the night I was a wreck. I needed my partner to help me up the stairs and into bed. I didn't have the energy to empathize with his fears about my health or our future I could only ask for tea and help taking off my clothes.
We're both scared about the future and uncertain about what we can handle and what will sustain us. Cobbling together hard limits and expectations form the world around us is nearly impossible. But we're working on it. Together. For that I am endlessly thankful.