Night Shift: the Anxiety of Staying Put

Last night, the world was silent, still, and dark in the state park I camped in with Sammy, Blanche, and Betty.* So dark I couldn’t see the RV parked next to me just fifty feet away.

If I walked to the edge of the lake, lights from small-town enclaves pierced the darkness at the lake’s perimeter and stars punched holes in the sky, but to see the ground in front of me required a bright flashlight beam. Thus far, parks and roadside campgrounds have been blessedly light-free.

Trees in Lake Whitney

Tonight, I am “camped” outside a business in a suburb of Dallas. (Permission of the proprietors) Brilliant security lights make reading possible through Blanche’s largest window and freeway traffic noise is as constant and thunderous as a storm day on the Surfside revetment. But I have power, a full water tank, and safety, and I am only a thirty-minute drive from my grandchildren.

I appreciate this brief way station and the reduction in costs it allows. Dallas isn’t exactly a haven for campers. Campgrounds I might have chosen were either priced higher than I prefer to pay currently or had, shall we say, issues. Add to that the significant distance from my family and the idea of setting up in those places was unappealing at best. Nor would Blanche fit comfortably, even for a short time, in East Dallas neighborhood streets.

So here we are, listening to the traffic storm and looking at the patterns in the ceiling carpet.

Ok, so there’s no pattern. It’s just beige carpet. There’s not much to look at, it turns out. Sleep would probably come if I were actually sleepy.

Sleep might come if I could shut my mind off and stop worrying:

  • About all the things I cannot do and have not done. 
  • About all the people I have disappointed or have disappointed me.
  • About time and the cruel forward motion of it. 
  • About his moss agate eyes.
  • About how none of this really matters. Not him. Not time. Not my failures or that of others. Not traffic noises in a lot behind a business. Not stars nor darkness nor silence. 

None of it matters. When I am dust, I will simply be dust. 

Cheerful meandering, eh?

I awaken to brilliant North Texas sunlight and blue skies, a brisk breeze, and the kind of space within which I can take care of life’s tasks that get set aside on the road: my old phone needs attention, Blanche had an injured turn indicator, I need items from shops not available in tiny rural towns that have only convenience stores and local diners.

My mood shifts slightly if only because to survive, to keep going yet another day, I have these things to do: little errands that hopefully won’t smack my bank account too hard.

It isn’t being alone that strains me or even lost relationships or love. Those are the rocks and potholes on the road. It is the inevitability of failure drummed into me since I was a child: “Come on, baby. You’re smarter than that.” “You’re intelligent. You just have no common sense.” “Darling, you forgot x again.” “You’re so intelligent. Why aren’t you more motivated?” That last while putting constraints on how I could use my education.

It isn’t the road I’m on that beats me down. It’s the road that came before.

I’m exhausted from the voices of my past. The voices of my future don’t stand a chance.

Unlike all the people around me lecturing me on how to move forward and how to find strength, I can’t quiet those voices. I try every day with new efforts and goals, but every night the darkness (no matter how well lit by security lights or stars) reminds me I am still me and I have only come so far and have so far to go with yet so little time left ahead.

I want to end this entry on some pithy, upbeat note. Some motivational preciousness that will redeem my mood for those of you who will tell me to put on a smile or “let go and let God.” Compartments, again.

I am, perhaps, a writer for the very reason that I can’t do those things. I can’t pretend I have no discernible income. I can’t pretend my heart isn’t scarred. I can’t pretend I believe I will survive despite staring down the barrel of 60 and having nothing to show for it save a higher education and a dog companion.

So I wrote this and y’all just have to take the agonizing posts with the pithy and hopeful.

*I’ve finally named my bicycle: JT (based on the brand and model). Now all pets and vehicles are officially named and as such are dependents that require I keep going.

5 thoughts on “Night Shift: the Anxiety of Staying Put

  1. Aimer Boyz

    Do you supposed it’s part and parcel of aging, this “cheerful meandering?”
    I’ve had the same thoughts often and often, usually about 3 a.m. 🙂

    1. Lee Ellis Post author

      It’s definitely late night thinking. Some of it is age, for sure. I can’t fight the feeling that it’s all behind me. That no matter what I do, I’m done with forward motion and I’m kidding myself. The last love was the LAST love. I can’t feel that again for anyone but him. And no one can feel that kind of love for me. I’m old. I’m flabby. I’m done. My usefulness to society is nil. I am too old to get a job, be productive short of working my ass to death for Bezos and NFW will I do that! I’d rather end up in a landfill. (These are just 3 am thoughts)

      Some of it is just depression on the heels of loss.

      I have had a glass of outstanding Pinot noir and am less than rational. 😁

  2. Aimer Boyz

    When the sun comes up, I try to remember that I’m lucky to still be here. Old and flabby, but here. I hope when you and Blanche are back on the road, you’ll remember that too 🙂

  3. Jim

    Forgive me for saying so, but the Lee I met was beautiful. No fluff. A strong and independent woman who you can not help but to admire and care for. It pains me to hear her speak of herself in this way considering the fact that her last love must have been brain damaged to let her go. And a fool. Good luck, lady. You deserve much better than any man could ever give you.

  4. Anne-Sophie

    Lee, you don’t know flabby. Besides, if you were anything like this, you would not fit in Blanche.

    So lovely looking in your pictures, stamina for rescues, and your forgot your degrees.

    Wine is not a cheering substance, despite all the ads dispensed by expensive French Houses of bubbly that are not seltzer.

    Because of your degrees, your gift for writing, your smarts and remote work, many non-profit that do good for animals and people look for your background.


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