Someone asked me how I am today, and I said fine. I said it even with a smile, and stopped to chat a few minutes, ruminating over how fast the school year has gone and the amount of mud the kids got on them during the end of year picnic. Someone asked me how I am, and I said fine. But I am not.
I am in a haze. I am walking through a fog, near to tears. My heart actually hurts. Literally. There is a constant pain in my chest that sometimes is so staggering I can't breathe.
I go to school functions and cheer on the kids. I bake cookies to bring. I talk with them, sing with them, hold the limbo stick and cheer them on as they go lower. And this takes a monumental amount of effort. To pretend to be fine. It is overwhelmingly difficult. And I am exhausted.
I smiled at the check-out clerk and told her to have a great weekend. Another asked how I was, and I said "I'm great!" She answered back, "That's what I keep telling myself." And I smiled again and said, "If I say it enough, it will become so, right?" but I knew we both were lying. We smile even as we are dying a little inside.
And as I leave the store, tears are already washing off the smile.
It is nothing. And it is everything.
Life around me is no different than it was a week ago. My children are beautiful and brilliant. My husband is loving and amazing. I have a perfect life. I tell myself this and I know it's true. I have a perfect life.
And I am sad.
Inexplicably, overwhelmingly sad. Waves that I am drowning in.
It is not the rejection, although I think that must not have helped. It is so much bigger than that. And smaller, too. It is either small things I am making too big. Or big things I think should seem smaller. It is one or the other. Or it is both.
There was before New York and after New York.
I went with high hopes of an agent offer in the near future, and hopes of seeing an old and close friend. I came back with a rejection, and the realization that the goodbye to my friend might be a very long one.
There was a city full of possibilities and new places and shiny lights and gorgeous people going about their gorgeous lives; a foreign world. Home is suburban streets and too many stoplights and ugly strip malls; the all-too familiar.
The days back since New York have been so much more difficult than I could have guessed. I thought it would be a fun trip - a short jaunt - then back home. Life as usual. I did not expect the jarring in my heart. I feel I am suddenly missing something I cannot even define.
But I tell myself what I tell my kids when I tuck them in bed after a particularly hard day.
Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow will be better.
If I want it badly enough to be so, it will be so. Because what else is there to do but move on?