On finding new ways to like myself and like where I’m at

Springtime Tay in Door CountyTime has taken on a strange, shifting shape over the past year, I think. For a lot of us. Time gained, in some senses—in commutes that were suddenly no longer, in evenings once spent at happy hours or the movies or any other number of events from the Before Times. Time lost, as well. It seems to take me longer to get going for the day when I work from home, as I watch Schitt’s Creek and drink my tea, lumbering from task to task until I finally sit down at my kitchen table or couch to work.

Law school gives you so little time to deal with, well, anything beyond school itself. When I went through a breakup and the death of a family member within a span of a few weeks in law school, I just buried all that hurt and sadness and moved through the semester completely numb. It was the unhappiest I have ever been.

The opposite was the case this fall, both due to the pandemic and to my move to a new state, to a small city I had never heard of. In the aftermath of a breakup, especially, the dichotomy between the exciting, terrifying, dizzying pace of a new job and career—only to come home to my giant empty apartment and sit alone with Netflix and my feelings for hours—felt jarring at best, and completely crushing at its worst.

I read and reread a journal entry I had written a couple summers ago, after I had developed a new crush in a new city, one I had also never really been to until I moved there. It was a reminder that sometime in the future, the evenings and weekends wouldn’t stretch on in solo monotony, in winter temperatures trapping me in my apartment, menacing in its spaciousness (a thing I had so badly wanted after moving out of my tiny studio in Iowa City).

That I would feel OK, maybe even good or happy, again someday.

I spent a lot of those long winter months watching terrible teen movies on Netflix, going to bed at 8 p.m. (to be fair, I do this when I’m perfectly happy, too), and crying on the way to Domino’s when I was too sad to cook.

Since then, I have filled my now new-ish apartment (I’ve been living in Wisconsin for nearly a year!) with wall art, with new houseplants, with picture frames and corny coffee table books and loud music and scented candles I wish would never burn out.

I watched this video from Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin’s Just Between Us YouTube Channel, after Allison’s fiancée abruptly left her last fall. At one point she asks, “How do I get to a point where the edges of the pain are not as sharp?”

Spring in WausauI like the sound of that question, the way it leaves space for the pain to still exist, to randomly pop up, but to soften. Maybe it’s the fact that spring is finally here, that tonight I can hear the pouring rain on my roof for the first time in months, that I’m (halfway) vaccinated, that I (very occasionally) know how to do something in my still-new job, but I’m glad the pain has softened, that I am back to being the girl who buys a new houseplant every Saturday, to blasting Love Drunk by Boys Like Girls (still a banger, folks) with every window open in the house, to posting my third homemade breakfast casserole picture of that week alone.

The edges of the pain softened, and I found new ways to like myself and like it here.

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