I've finally discovered my party line.
(I don't even know if that's a phrase, outside of a shared phone line back in the day or a dividing line politically, but I'm tired so I'm making it a thing. A party line is the line you deliver at a party about yourself.)
"So, Bailey. It's nice to meet you. What do you do?"
And here's my answer, here forward until further notice:
"I'm a feeler. I feel."
People, I am so unclear on what I should be doing with my life, it's pathetic.
And I feel that. I feel the pathetic.
I feel the jealousy, the anger, the inability to let go of things that happened years ago.
I feel the sensitivity when a friend corrects me, tells me something as if I wasn't already aware of it.
I feel the fury when I go out of my way to be thoughtful and encouraging and focused in on another and that another doesn't do a d*mn thing back in my direction.
I feel the judge inside, harsher than any judge anywhere anytime. Bailey B. judging Bailey B. is ruthless. All punishment, no grace.
I feel that which can only be described as "the SQUEE" when I get a picture of my chubby nephew, hair spilling out of his Patrick Mahomes headband. I feel the urgent and consistent need to show everyone JUST HOW CUTE.
I feel this need to harp and woe myself and pity party like no one has pity partied before.
I feel the hard-learned job (?) to count my gratitudes, to give thanks for the warm chamomile at my side and the fact that I have shampoo in my shower so I don't need to stop for more on the way home.
I feel the list of gratitudes lift me. I feel the meditations lift me. I feel the social interaction lift me. (Almost) every time.
I feel the wonder, the ache, the fear, of what this life is going to look like if I choose to be a writer. Am I even going to enjoy it? Will it be harder to choose not to write?
I feel probably jealous of you. Doesn't matter what I'm jealous of, but trust me, I envy you. I envy your dinner, your money, your body shape, your career, your contentment, your laughing at that memory that I wasn't a part of, even if I was deep in a memory of my own.
There is a person in my social circles who I feel jealously obsessed with. I check on their social media account daily. I recognize the personal hell they've been through in recent months, yet I can't beat, can't push down nor squash nor incinerate the belief that they're happier than me.
I love my partner. I'm obsessed with my pet -- in a good, non-checking-his-social-media-accounts-for-negative-fuel way. My family is unreal and so many of my friends are funny, smart, considerate, kind. A joy to be around and they build me up. Through texts and dates and emails and G-chats they always leave me with a LEGO brick, stacking up a tower of fierce, variegated love around me.
Hi, I'm Bailey.
Oh, and what do you do, Bailey?
I'm a feeler.
Sometimes I hate it, sometimes it's fine. Sometimes it's new love on a golf course, sometimes it's funnel cakes and powdered sugar up my nose or fishy breeze whipping my hair cruising the lake at sunset. Sometimes it's irritation at the redundancy of my feelings on repeat.
Sometimes it's trying to write something brilliant as I feel myself getting more and more tired, making a joke via text about being a feeler, then realizing that's a blog post, then powering through the fatigue to tap it out, all the while wondering if this is going to alarm CONCERN.
Sometimes feeling is the responsibility of explaining that you're not crazy, you're not in need of intense professional care, you're just you. That after a solid night of sleep you might be a cheerleader on a trampoline tomorrow, and you'll just be like thank goodness I got a break from the bad feeling, at least.
I feel that if I post this, some of you might freak out.
I feel that some of you will be like I GET IT.
I feel like I will feel my way through all of that.
I will feel with my knobby tentacles through and around all of it. I will get stuck on things, suctioned into conversations of which I didn't wish to partake. I will get mad, annoyed, uncomfortable. I will feel no need to get involved, and I will dip my fries in more ketchup and could we get another round, please? Thanks.
I feel I will catch onto all of you people with my many feeling arms of emotion, and some of those moments will be beautiful and unexpected kismet and I will find God once again once again once again through the communion of His people as I duck into a space when I just need a break from the feeling.
Well, from the bad feeling at least. Or the feelings on repeat or the laundry list feelings or the "did I leave that candle burning?" feelings of crazy-making worry.
Y'all will feel through this stuff with me, in your own way. You're gonna make me nuts, I know it. Jealous, angry. Over the moon with love.
But what a lonely ocean it would be if my tentacles were forever waving in the surf, never to curl around your aimless, scribbling, dancing arms reaching out of the reef.
And what a lovely ocean it can be when our vacuumy rings bump edges and make a noisy, wet peck of greeting. The kind that hurts your ears, but in the good way. Not the obsessive social media searching way.
See you out there. May your feelings be content today, your gaze zeroed in on a dazzling school of fish, their commitment to traveling in a pack an inspiration to slip your wandering arm over to grab that of the one next to you.
Sorry, did that smooch on your cheek hurt your ears?
Nah. Just right.