the blonde asks, are you happy?

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on tuesday during lunch with jillypoet (the blonde of “the blonde and the redhead” fame), it didn’t come up at all: not writing, not blogging, not happiness. we spent the entire hour talking about divorce, boyfriends, children, work and ailing parents. surely that’s not all we’ve become. not every conversation has to be indicative of the state of affairs, of course. but it came up the next day via text: how did i not know about your new blog? she asks. and i answer, omg. i forgot all about it. and today via text, The Question: are you happy?

it’s the thing that gives us momentum, right? that search for happiness. it’s what helps us change our lives. so we did it. we changed our lives. to the extreme. and then it takes us months and months to dare ask, are you happy? it’s a fair but dangerous question. and i think the answer i gave her was that i was happier, which could really just be a way of saying that there are degrees of misery and i’m less miserable than i was. but it’s hardly a confident, assertive yes, i am happy.

i felt disappointed with myself that i couldn’t answer immediately and with certainty. i entertained for an afternoon that i might have failed. but i’ve been looking more closely at it. and i have a capacity for joy that i haven’t had in more than a decade, maybe longer, and as a result, i do have moments of happiness. exquisite moments in which i know with absolute certainty that i have done the right thing.

of course, it’s tempered by difficult challenges and severe consequences. and that’s life. i have lost an extended family that’s been part of my life since i was 19. i have lost friends i relied on for more than a decade. i will likely struggle the rest of my life to stand on my own two feet. i will have to go after everything – my mfa, my manuscripts, etc. – at a snail’s pace. and that’s just the start of list. it goes on.

i think that’s where the confusion lies. things are just as difficult as they were before. the daily battles are different, that’s all. you trade in one set of problems for another. one of the smartest people i know told me that early on. and that’s why it’s hard to answer a resounding yes to the question: are you happy? because life ain’t easy. but really? it ain’t easy for anyone.

the biggest difference now is that i have shed everyone’s expectation of who carolee was supposed to be. that, by itself, makes me happy.

but don’t worry, if you’ve come to this blog about divorce and poetry and living downtown hoping for some drama, some bitch slaps and some whining, you’re not in the wrong spot. i’m an intensely emotional person. i entertain anger and despair far more than i should. it’ll come around. and often. but yes, i am happy with the new life i’m making. it suits me. take that, bitches.

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