Sunday, May 2, 2010

the Downside of Happiness (Richmond, VA)

I have to be careful. On Friday, as I set out for work, I felt downright uplifted.

The last time I felt such sheer joy without reason was pure disaster: I exited a Chinese restaurant with a song in my heart, in my mind, and on my lips, sprang into my car, and promptly backed into an invisible (ok, not invisible, but unfore- and aft-seeable) brick wall. The resulting damage to my hitherto fairly to middlingly presentable Ford Taurus station wagon was minimal -- a mere chunklet of fender dislodged. However, three days later, I found that I'd lost a bad percentage of the bumper somewhere along the road. Now and then, it's not like I had been tooling around town in some sweet little "look-at-me" sports car, or in any sort of vehicle with the remotest panache, elan, or other even vaguely foreign-word-assigned chic-nicity. But suddenly, I was driving something that looked (and looks) like a wreck that had slid backwards off a tow truck.

So here I am again, in a car that no car thief would have the courage to be seen in or near, and I've got that "high on life" feeling that landed me in that previous bit of trouble the last time I felt it. Despite a sense of foreboding, I can't rid myself of this intense happy-osity, so I start to focus on what on earth could be the cause. I think about the things in my life that inspire me, but I can't make a connection.

Could it be Spring that's put a spring into my step? The warm but not hellish temperature? The gentle breeze that fingers through my hair without batting tendrils into my eyes? The intoxicating, mingling wafts of fresh air, fragrant flowers, and newly mowed grass? The landscape bursting in lush greenness and rampant, colorful blooms? The cloud-free, blue-to-the-nth-power sky? Nah, that's not it. Been there, done that and still didn't feel this way.

I'm neither more nor less in love than I was yesterday, when I moved around in my usual state of channeled panic.

My son isn't due home from college for a month or so and when I think of his homecomings, I'm always excited but when I actually see him, I'm usually so happy that I cry, but he's not coming yet and I'm not crying, so as I've said, that can't be it.

It can't be hormones because, as a woman of a certain age (WOAC), I don't think I have any.

I'm not dancing -- although I do confess to bopping around in the driver's seat, drumming on the steering wheel, and shaking my shoulders with relative abandon when I've got salsa, rock, or other danceable tunes playing on the radio. But it's 7:45 a.m. and I'm listening to NPR, so believe me, the news isn't something that would make me feel joy or even crack a smile. Yet, despite the bad news, I'm smiling or, perhaps, I now worry, am I cracking?

Maybe I'm manic depressive? Perhaps my usual non-stop energy and drive are really manifestations of mania that alternate with the total cessation of consciousness that I have, up to this moment, called "sleep," which is really depression so severe that I don't feel anything except exhaustion?

Considering the above, elation dissipates. Where do I have to go? To the office or directly to a school? How many presentations will I make today? Did I develop and translate the fliers for the workshops I'll facilitate next week? Can I make it to all three meetings in different parts of town that I've scheduled between 3:00 and 5:00? Did I remember to stick my planner (my bible, my life)into my bag, so I'll know where the heck the meeiings are?

Back to my usual, frenzied state of normalcy, I unrelax. I feel better and, therefore, worse than I did when I left home a short while ago.

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