Right now I’m reading a novel (one so good I feel hung over) called The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. There’s a line in it from one rather sad and lonely character Ismay, it reads “It’s a well-known fact that hate shows up on your face once you’re forty.” Ismay is attending the wedding of her brother-in-law. He’s marrying for the second time, after his first wife, Ismay’s younger sister, died. She is in a terrible marriage to a man who constantly cheats on her and she has had seven miscarriages in the last twelve years with no surviving children and now no hope of one. She is forty-four years old. She has very good reasons for being said and lonely, bitter and inside (though mostly well-hidden) hateful. Ismay is not the character you are supposed to connect with in this book, she is secondary. It is AJ or Maya or Amelia you’re supposed to love (and I do), but Ismay and this line also creep in.
This line creeps in because I feel it, I feel bitter and hateful and I wish I didn’t and I hoped it would fade. It hasn’t. And I’m not Ismay, I don’t have a terrible life, a terrible husband. I haven’t experienced her loss. Nevertheless, hate and bitterness reside inside me. What happened to me has happened to thousands of people, I lost my job. A job I loved and was good at and it happened in very unpleasant circumstances. It was unfair and hurtful, that is where my (mostly well-hidden) bitterness and hate comes from and I wonder, is it showing up on my face?
I do my best to put a positive spin on things. “Think of all the books I’ll be able to read” I tell myself. Or “I’ll get back into blogging” I think – it seems wrong to write a post like this on a blog about the good life. “Time for a change of career perhaps, that could be exciting” I say to people. Except, how the heck does one change careers? I don’t even know where to start really. it’s not so much exciting as incredibly daunting, frightening. The few jobs I’ve applied for haven’t even sent the thanks but no thanks email – I just get radio silence. With one exception, I’ve had one interview….. oh it was so, so bad!
The self-wallowing, I am aware, is not a good look on anyone. There ARE some actual positives. I have read dozens of books already – and I’ve realised I probably love reading more than anything else. Can I do that for a living? I’ve walked my girls to school and home every day and have watched Miss Five (nearly Six) start prep, it’s been a little shaky but things are improving. We’re about to embark on an amazing family holiday to Samoa (outside the school holiday weeks!). But still, at night, when the lights are out, that bitterness creeps in again. That thing I can’t shake. That thing I haven’t put a voice to until now. Perhaps putting it out there, into the ether, will lessen its grip. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?
And as of today, I’m going to try writing again. They won’t all be bitter, self-pitying ravings, but they won’t all be about the good life either. I hope that’s forgivable even if my blog is called The New Good Life. Should I change names?