Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting Grounded

I went to the movies yesterday. I'd been wanting to see "Up In the Air," with George Clooney, since it first came out and was afraid it would never arrive in this area. Yes, part of my desire to see it had to do with George, but I'd also read that it's a good movie, very relevant to our times, and it was made by Jason Reitman, who made "Juno," one of my favorite movies of recent years. I've been missing the movie-going options of Santa Fe, where on any given day you have your pick from the latest mainstream movies, recent documentaries that have intriguing topics, or foreign films, new and old; figure out your mood and you can pretty much find a film that will sustain it, enhance it, justify or alter it, depending on where you want to go with it.

I've also developed a bit of a hobby around my love of movies and theaters. Every year I try to watch, in a theater, every film that's receiving Oscar buzz. Then, on Oscar night I arrive in Hollywood via my television, ready to enjoy all the glitz and glamour, ooh and aah over all the right dresses, and wait for all the Big Moments. My big moments may not be remembered as anyone else's, but they brought tears to my eyes, sometimes big elephant tears.  Right now, as I type this, I remember Chris Cooper accepting his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in "Adaptation," a film about orchids in the Florida Everglades, among other things. He made it with Meryl Streep, whom he mentions so sweetly in his speech, big tears in his eyes. I suppose I thought of him because I saw a trailer for a new film he's in while waiting for "Up in the Air" to start. Which brings me back to the real subject at hand.

I'd read a few reviews of this movie, all alluding to the timeliness, given all the lay-offs and terminations that have taken place in the last year or two. Every time I think of well over six million unemployed people in the United States I ... can't even finish this sentence. Yes, that is definitely a theme in the movie, but it's not The theme. The theme is loneliness and how we cope or don't cope with it, how we choose to connect, or not. George plays a character named Ryan Bingham who does motivational speaking, along with flying all over the country to act as a hatchet man for those companies who need to relieve themselves of some overhead. Overhead, in the form of people. His "motivational" speaking involves a  backpack sitting on a nearby table, a backpack in which he asks the audience to, metaphorically, stuff all their ... stuff. And then set it on fire. Which gave me pause for thought. I thought, how many backpacks have I set on fire in my life, and, even more important, how many more times will I set my backpack on fire? At what point do I realize, too late, that I put something in the backpack that didn't belong there, or that I wish I hadn't?  Little things. Maybe a house, maybe a relationship. See where I'm going with this?

I have spent most of my life in one relationship after another since I was a teenager. Some of them were marriages. Some were short-term, some not so short. Each time I thought this is the One, or a reasonable facsimile. Reasonable enough to keep trying, even when the Universe set up road block after road block, one fallen tree across the road after another. I just pulled out my metaphorical chainsaw, cut it up, hauled it home, told myself it would make good firewood. I was not to be deterred and my listening-to-the-Universe skills were not as sharp as my chainsaw blade.

And then, weeks or months, or maybe even years later, I would move on. The open road would call, the wide horizon would beckon, something didn't feel quite right, it didn't fit as well as I thought it did, I would realize I'd made a false decision, and my life would, once again, be full of options and possibility. Up in the air.

So, now it's been going on four years since my last relationship, the kind where you have ongoing companionship, someone with whom you can to go to the movies, laugh with in the kitchen, exchange a quick hug passing in the hall, have dinner with in the evening, talk about the day, talk about the world. Like that. If it sounds like I'm whining, well, I am. Sometimes I get tired of being alone. I can hear your chorus now: what I would give to have the ability to make all my own decisions about how I spend my time, how I spend my money, what I eat for dinner, what movies I see, how I'm going to spend each and every day. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Well, it's not. Not always. Sometimes I feel very blessed to have all this freedom. Everyone deserves to have uninterrupted time; to make decisions about their life and how they want to spend it. A good relationship allows for that. I've had friends tell me they would love to have my freedom, love to be in my place, living with the flexibility I have, go where I want, when I want. But, I was talking to my sister in Texas awhile back and was describing my feelings around all this freedom. Both of us, at the same time, called up Kris Kristofferson's song "Me and Bobby McGee." Yeah. "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." And then we laughed. There are days I love my life and there are days I would definitely trade with my married friends, friends who are less-than-happy some of the time, maybe even a lot of the time. But, they have someone to go to the movies and laugh in the kitchen with, all of the above, and right now, The Biggie, they have someone to spoon with on cold winter nights. Right after that rambunctious sex that can make huskies howl.

I know I'm whining and I should be grateful for my life, and, I am, most of the time. But, sometimes loneliness kicks in, and I'm reminded of how many backpacks I've burned. Last night, in the dark of the theater, I recognized myself. I'm not nearly as good-looking as George, nor as charming, but as the movie went along, I found myself being asked to take a deeper look at the real issues here. And see what I think. I think I found myself receding deeper and deeper into my seat. When the movie was over, I did my usual credits-watching, letting my reactions sink in. This time, though, when the credits were over I felt stuck to my seat, had trouble wanting to get up and leave. And it wasn't just the arctic cold waiting on the other side of the doors. It was also the empty efficiency I call home right now, waiting for me. It was the voices coming from the neighbors, talking, sharing, having someone to communicate with, someone to make the world feel, not just hospitable, but downright cozy.

My biggest moment of recognition came, though, when the movie was over, when I had to realize that I had made decisions that brought me there, to that moment. And, here's the important part: I can make other decisions. I know this.  I can agree to open my life a bit more, a whole lot more, to all the possibilities. I can stop telling myself I'm not any good at relationships. I can make an agreement with myself to nip every negative thought in the bud. Every moment that calls up the notion that I am lonely, without companionship, let it go without resistance; let it move away from me without examination or entanglement. Because I am not. Not really. In the classic, timeless sense of Life, I am surrounded by friendship and beauty and laughter and goodness. I have to keep choosing these things, to really see and feel them. Make it real. Because it is. Always has been. I just have to open my eyes and See it. We always have choices; choices of perception, choices of how we will respond to each moment. And that is how I aim to move through my days from here on out. Each moment I will make a choice to see and feel companionship with the world around me and remind myself, as often as necessary, it's not about a singular individual. It's about an abundance of ideas and those ideas contain everything I need, not just to sustain me, my life, but to move through it experiencing that abundance. In every area of my life.


  1. After some thought, I think the previous post and this post are related and that this is one of those times to think about What Could Work!!And I couldn't help but think about how you described being alone...Teresa, the hardest part for me (for my husband was in the military and deployed a lot) was in the evenings, when everybody went into their houses and I faced that "empty efficiency" you described, but only in the wintertime. For some stupid reason, I thought people were inside, sitting around the fireplace or, of all things, dancing! Remember Dolly Parton's Christmas specials? Well, I told a friend (who know how I thought), "See, they really are dancing!" She laughed. But I still had that deep pang.

  2. Theresa, I love the way you express yourself so honestly. I hope you find what you are looking for. Did you ever see Under The Tuscan Sun? Diane Lane was crushed after a painful divorce, moved to Italy for an adventure, and found all the things she asked for, yet not in the traditional sense she had imagined. That to me, was so cool.

    I saw Up In The Air also, and how I rooted for George to make that connection! There were some twists and turns I didn't expect, but it made the movie exciting. I too, loved Juno and hoped for the same type of adventure. It did not disappoint.

    Today, I'm off to see Crazy Heart with Jeff Bridges. LOVE his acting.

    Take care.

  3. Kittie and LB, I can't tell you how much it means to me to have your loving support. Thank you both.

    Yes, I'm looking forward to "Crazy Heart," also!

  4. There is something about going to a movie alone that increases its impact. I haven't seen "Up In The Air" yet, but I can relate to your emotions while watching it. The thing is not to let it overwhelm you--just add it to your life experience. I have also lived alone and I found it depressing, but that's the sorta gal I am. You sound like you have a good sense of self so you're doing fine!

  5. You caught it...Blue Suede Shoes! Way to go, Girl!

  6. Teresa, I highly recommend Crazy Heart. It was awesome! I don't even like country music, but the music in the movie was great. Jeff Bridges' performance was powerful; sometimes difficult to watch, but I watched every second.

  7. Teresa... I keep writing paragraphs in response to this, and then deleting them. I think I just want to send you a cross-country hug instead.

  8. I can't tell you how much all your loving support means to me. Really. I am so grateful for each and every one of you.

  9. One can be alone but no lonely, our only child chooses to be alone but never lonely, she treats herself to her beloved friends, their tiny wee ones, but can go out the door to ther sweet kitty and be alone for her minds sake...She lives in NYC one of the most single cities in the world they must know something that others do, non married citizens there account to almost 67 percent of the population the married live in the new jersey, pennsylvanie and washington dc areas, the tri state areas, not in NYC..she loves it there, she travels the world and country in her job in Films no less she gets home to our area Seattle which is 300 miles from her true home often and we get there to be with her and enjoy her sweet self, she is enlightened and knows this life is just one go around why not eat dessert first...Yesterday Whitney Houston passed from this life, our only child used to hold up a brush and sing her heart out to all of her tunes, she adored her and is very upsett, I comforted her by telling her God my concept only and the angels called her home from a suffering life on this terrestrial our daughter is in Berlin Germany on work it seemed to help her understand how one so creative and gifted singer, actress was on this earth such a short time..her only child Bobbie Christine is left motherless and only soon to be 19 years of age, her Mother Cissy Houston is left daughterless, oh, my the suffering that will entail is so so heartbreaking, but I believe when it is your time to depart this earth, no matter what you think it will come it will in peace whitnety houston, the reason I mention this is because of your spiritual writings and your beliefs, if more people were peaceful like you are it would be more loving and kind on this terrestrial...Don't fret, one as loving as you are and peaceful as you are - you are destined to be alone/lonely for long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I wanted to come back and say again, how very grateful I am for your kindness. It means a lot to me that you would take the time to write and leave your response along with encouraging words. I am so very grateful.

  10. I meant to say one as peaceful and loving and kind as you are is not destined to be alone for any length of time, unless you choose to be...I am sorry in a hurry, lots to do here and my mind is jambled, our kitty had to go to the Vet, our car of 8 full years and 100,000 miles died had to buy a new one I don't drive at all, it was a shock and the 3rd thing was our daughters flight from NYC to Berlin Germany was way overdue by 14 hours and I got ill thinking of negative things that never happened..Now I can take my Rooibus tea and attend to my hubby who was as worried as I was he enjoys his chai! Peace to you I love your blogs and you seem so peaceful and kind!!~~~~~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Since I wrote this, I have found more peace around being alone, I'm less lonely. I have a dog now for companionship and a place of my own in the country with gardens to attend to in the summer, which helps. I feel strongly that if I am meant to have companionship it will happen and I will be ready in every way. I am enjoying these alone years, as I married for the first time very young and never had this time earlier in life.

      It's always a bit stressful when a beloved pet needs veterinary attention and then a car breaking down is always challenging. Your daughter sounds like an interesting person who leads an interesting life. I have always thought working in films would be fun. It's always a concern when our children are out there and difficulties arise. I trust she's arrived safe and sound.

      It is very sad about Whitney, particularly the loss to her daughter and mother. I hope they all find peace in the days to come.

      Thank you immensely for all your words of encouragement. Should you ever wish to write and leave your name, I would love to attach a name to your kindness. But, only if you wish. Thank you again for the kindness you've shown me.

      I love chai, too! :)

      Have a beautiful day.

  11. Replies
    1. Yes, it is. I agree. Thank you for reading this, OF.

    2. Hi Teresa - read this again and of course it still rings true. This getting older thing is all new - never done it before. You give to get but it gets real old getting little back at least that's what it looks like to me.

      Fact of the matter is as you age the less relevant you become to others. Part of that might be human nature.

      And this is why I am returning to the Vallarta area because right out of the box one has several important things in common with other expats that lend themselves to the minimum of at least decent conversations. Not the gringo tourist but the others.

      I can't say that for where I live now. I very much feel like the Lone Stranger. Make no mistake all in all life is decent and I am fortunate. Lonely at times but lucky. Not like that in Nogalito and looking forward to the return.

      I hope you are well!!!

    3. The Vallarta area sounds like a really good place to be ... your photos of it are wonderful ... and expats can be some fine company ... hope this winter goes very well for you ... thanks for checking in ... All is well ...