It’s story time today.
Ten years ago this May.
I don’t want to write about this. And definitely not in the mood to go into all the details.
So. Ignoring the mechanisms, the how and why of my world falling apart, some relevant pieces:
In May of ten-years-ago my husband and I left our Tel Aviv apartment that I loved so much. Maybe even more than I’d realized, in retrospect. Oh, retrospect, you are always so late.
His parents had given us a flat they owned in the suburbs. Next door to them.
Except it was still being renovated, and I was working in the city.
My shifts at the bar ended late — too late for buses. And a cab out of town would eat up all my earnings.
My husband stayed at his parents in the suburb. And I stayed on various couches of girlfriends in Tel Aviv.
Time is funny.
It was supposed to be just for a month. We’d see each other weekends and in between my shifts at work.
We didn’t. Not really. Renovations took longer. My best friend went to London and I house-sat for a while, then took care of her ex-girlfriend who was going through a rough patch.
I went to the States for a visit. Stayed with a girlfriend in Chicago. Went on a road trip. Place, perspective. Breathing room.
Timing is timing.
I was scheduled to fly out of Chicago on September 12.
This was 2001, so September 11 meant there was no September 12. At least, not in any way that mattered.
Flights were canceled. Flights to Israel were canceled for even longer.
Six months into seven.
Eventually I came back. The marriage, unsurprisingly, came apart. It was agreed that I would move out.
A friend of a friend was moving to Sweden. I could rent her apartment.
She changed her mind about if and when so many times that I lost count.
I stayed on more couches.
By the time I moved in, it was almost December. Seven months of couch-sleeping. Of not knowing when or where — or if at all — there would be home for me.
This six month period is by no means the hardest or the shittiest thing that has happened to me.
It hurts to say: this doesn’t even make the top ten.
But that doesn’t mean this time wasn’t terrifying and painful, because it was.
And sometimes I talk to me-from-then. I invent vacations for her. I put her up in hotels and buy her books. I take care of her. It’s what I do.
I have trouble taking time off. I have trouble stopping.
Until it’s an emergency, and Emergency Vacation is declared.
This is a known thing.
But to every absolute declarative “this is how things are” truth, there is always an exception. And here it is:
While I personally may be terrible at creating refuge for myself now, there is a version of me who knows how to stop.
It’s the me who invents vacations for past versions of myself.
Look at all the things I have trouble giving to me-in-the-present:
Time, space, money, attention, caring, forgiveness, comfort, reassurance, appreciation, protection.
And yet all of these I gladly give to me-who-went-through-all-that-crap.
Bless the loophole.
Yesterday, I took myself away on a holiday.
I took me-from-now and me-from-ten-years-ago, and we went on a little self-rescue mission.
We booked a gorgeous hotel room. We packed an overflowing picnic basket. Books and magazines. Slippers. An appointment for a facial.
Normally I would never do this for myself. But it’s okay, because I’m taking care of her. I’m taking care of her by showing her that now I can take care of myself.
She knows what I’m doing, me-from-then.
She knows this is my way of easing into being the person who can take care of herself in the moment and not just after the fact.
She’s happy for me.
And I am happy for her.
Very specific comment blanket fort zen for today.
This is really, really vulnerable stuff I’m writing about. It’s hard to do.
What is welcome.
The versions of you who are in need of a Retroactive Emergency Vacation, whether you literally might go on one or not.
Spaciousness. Warmth. A glass of wine or a cup of tea.
What I am not okay with:
Not that you would do this, of course, but just to have said it…
I do not wish to be told what to do, psychoanalyzed, judged, given advice or given that thing which is called tough love but is not loving in practice.
I do not want to be told that I shouldn’t be posting here if I’m on vacation, or that I need to learn to take time off.
Happy Retroactive Emergency Vacation to me. And to all of your various verisons-of-you who need one too. Hug.