Sinking Into Summer

I am determined to have a good summer this year. It’s time.

The last few years I have fallen out of shape, physically and emotionally. Fatigue became a synonym for laziness. Few things, if any, went my way. After what seemed like a lifetime of fighting, I gave up. If my body wanted to keep breathing, that was its business. I, as a matter of choice, didn’t want to do anything.

So in the evenings, after caring for my daughter, I would vegetate on the couch, cover my head with a blanket, and create a small hole for breathing, which my body still compelled me to do.

Thinking about how I got to this point made me more depressed. I thought I was doing things right, but apparently I wasn’t. I was an actor in a freak show except I didn’t know I was the freak. I laid down and willed my spirit to leave. “I’m ready,” I thought. I waited for something to happen, but nothing did. If there was a choice to press a button for my spirit to leave, I would have pushed it, but there was no such button, and my spirit didn’t leave. So I lay there in misery, waking each day to another day in misery, for years.

Depression did not quell my ambitions. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest (probably one of the greatest inventions ever) saving designs for my house. I bought bricks for a pave way around the back of my house, but after a few shoves with the shovel, abandoned the project. There is still a pock in the dirt where I started and abandoned the project.

Polina and her then 4 year-old neighbor-friend used the bricks I bought to build a house. I was impressed by their design and energy. Ah, the happiness of youth. After Pete’s repeated prompting, I moved the bricks back to the side of the house, where they still sit.

I fantasized about new curtains in my dining room. The ones I stare at from the couch are at least 10 years old and do not fit the colors in our living area, but finding and ordering curtains that fit felt overwhelming. So I lay there, miserable in the curtain’s presence, but overwhelmed to do anything about it.

I fantasized about losing weight, but had zero motivation to do even a 10 minute workout. On the couch, I could have ten windows open, as many as my old computer could handle, for days, and not read any one of them, even as I read and opened more articles, and saved even more to my reading list, convincing myself that I would look at them later. More often than not my computer froze from all of the open windows and I had to discard them. I felt sorry for discarding them, as if its presence meant more than its content. In fact, that’s how I treated it.

The one area of my life where I felt completely happy was with my daughter. I loved her unconditionally. I would do anything for her. In my darkest moments, I knew how unfair it would be to her if I were to leave. In my depression, knowing that it went counter to how I was raised, I still would have pressed the button.

One day after another became a routine until one day, something changed. The day after I went on furlough at my job May 28, the sun came out. Where the sky was grey and the air cold, it is now 80 degrees with clear skies. My daughter’s next door neighbor-friend, now 5, got a small swimming pool. Today, she played outside with him in or near the pool all day. “I want to learn to swim,” she said, even before she learned about the pool.

Whereas last summer I didn’t want to spend any time outdoors, finding the sun hot and uncomfortable, I am sitting in the sun’s afternoon rays as I write this, quite comfortable.

I have no idea what the future holds. I do not have a belief structure that protects me from the winds of misery or misfortune. All I know is that the sun is shining right now, and I’m comfortable.



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Julia Babkina

Formerly a reporter for The Moscow Times and Editor in Chief of The Polaris. I write from a unique angle.