Notes from the Road #29: Connections

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It’s still dark outside, and I turn off the radio tuned to the classic country station on the FM dial, since the one on the AM dial doesn’t come in at night. I grab the Candy Cane Lane tea I have in my insulated water bottle, along w/ the prepped lunch I made the night before. This way, it’s ready to grab and go. After getting ready for work, I made sure everything I needed to bring was in my gym bag, taking a page outta Heather Dubrow’s book.

It was. I made sure to hunt for my old gym lock, once used for a job I had back in college and ended up losing due to a health scare that could’ve ended so much worse than it did.

It knocked around the house up until I lost the weight this time around, and got a monthly gym membership before my life turned to the forever garbage on steroids it is now.

I found an empty locker that I could borrow while I’m on assignment, w/ the administration’s permission just so everything’s kosher and on the up and up, in the interest of transparency and whatever. Turns out the key I thought went to the lock wasn’t on the lanyard I usually carry w/ me, the one that has my house key and one of my bike lock keys. The other one stays at home just in case.

Seems I lost the keys to my old gym lock after all. They weren’t where I thought they’d be.

Idk if I’m ever going back to the gym, even if I had the money to do so. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I did. There just wasn’t much I was able to do there anymore since the accident beyond the pool, the treadmill, or that stair climber doohickey. I had to quit going to the gym on account of the pandemic and the lockdowns, which started right as my February 2020 gym membership ended.

I’d been meaning to renew my gym membership for March, but never got around to it. Maybe that was no accident in the scheme of things. Since then, my neighborhood’s become my new gym. The fair is my gym, and so is the school playground.

The previous night, I had the chance to attend a journaling retreat, which can be found here. The next one’s next month, ICYMI for January.

There, we talked about gratitude, and while I was fashionably late to the party, I did catch most of it. I ended up not writing much about gratitude, but more of a story I’d started writing a few years back, as part of an ongoing anthology I started officially in 2010 for NaNoWriMo, but started back in high school. The character I wrote about in high school makes an appearance in this one much later on in, but at the point I’m at now, the MC is in law school.

That’s all I’m gonna say about that, for reasons. Just know this story will probably never see the light of day anyways, haha.

One of the topics we touched on in the journaling retreat was connections. Since my mom died, and since my old friend’s life has seriously taken off since before the pandemic, my connections in the 3D world are basically nonexistent.

That’s not to say my old friend’s done anything. Far from it, to make it clear to anyone who sees this! It’s just our lives have gone in separate directions, but we’ve always been able to pick up where we left off. The way I figure it, ppl can come and go from my life, and so long as there’s no deviant or egregious behavior involved, they’re always welcome at my table, any ol time.

For so long, I dealt w/ my mom’s ever-increasing needs as a caregiver by myself, which woulda been enough to sever any and all connections I had to begin w/. The one time I tried to reach out for help, they made it clear they didn’t give a rat’s ass, and refused to hear anything I ever had to say.

Fine. They can go kick rocks and get fucked, after what I got outta them. I suffered it all in silence until a home hospice agency intervened, and by then, it was all too little, too late.

If the tide of life ever turns on the ones who refused to help me or hear me, I hope they’re treated way better than they ever treated me.

The pandemic severed connections for many of us, yours truly included. When my mom’s illness forced her into retirement in March 2020 and the lockdown started, she had some coworkers who knew her for years. I won’t use their real names, so I’ll call em Rachel, Olivia, Shelly, and Steven for the sake of the story. My mom was closest to Rachel and her husband Charlie, and they were a huge part of our lives in the years leading up to the pandemic.

Once that started, it was no longer safe for them to visit. Rachel continued working through the pandemic, and both she and Charlie came down with COVID later that year. I’m happy to report that even though they were both high risk due to their ages and their own health conditions, they were both able to pull through, when they and my mom last touched base.

The pandemic was before I joined LinkedIn, but I lurked there and would check on several ppls profiles and keep em up on my screen as a way of having some company while I worked the few assignments I was able to get w/ my job at the time.

Otherwise, caring for my mom, and stepping out for whatever she felt she needed, wanted, and had to have was it for me. My journals kept me company outside the computer, and I was happy w/ that. I’d be the only one at the park, knocking around the desolate ghost town of a neighborhood, and on my bike to the pool, where a few others would be due to social distancing. Sometimes I’d go to school playgrounds in the neighborhood and try the equipment only to fail hard due to my injury.

On that note, Doc Martens and hopscotch, not even once.

Now that things are back on, and now that I got a job in the 3D world, it all feels so strange to me. That’s not to say I don’t love remote work, I do. In fact, I’m looking for a 2nd job, remote and part-time so I can fit it in w/ my schedule while I’m on assignment somewhere.

Connections w/ others are something I learned to live w/o, for the most part. I felt like it’s just easier not to bother. The general trend for me’s been for any attempts at connections to blow up in my face every time, and they make me sorry I ever bothered w/ them in the first place. Yes, this also included guys I was pursuing connections beyond platonic w/, too.

The silver lining is that those who fall into that last category are long gone from my life and they’re ancient history, which I’m thankful for.

Over to you, readers. What have connections been like for you? Got anything or anyone special to give a shout-out to? I’d love to hear all about it, along w/ your thoughts and takeaways, so drop it all like it’s hot and let’s talk.

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