I re-watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” this weekend. Holly Golightly refers to the mean reds. Like the blues, but worse. As Holly puts it:
“No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? “
That feeling has overwhelmed me the past couple months. And it always happens at work. Sometimes before I fall asleep at night. But at least twice a week at work. A switch goes off and I’m free-falling. I decided some months ago that I was done taking care of everyone. I was done making sure that everyone was okay first and then me. I needed to pay some attention to myself at this juncture in my life. I do that in my family. I do that with my friends. And I do it at work. And it’s tiring. And even more tiring. And I’m so done.
But in the midst of that I’m terrified. I’ll find myself sitting at my desk at work suddenly wanting to pick up my cup and throw it against the wall. I want to jump up and yell. I want to tell people to shut. the. fuck. up! There are mornings I contemplate continuing up route 4 and driving into Collinsville. Skipping work and sitting by the river with my camera and a notebook. I want to just go away.
And when I realize how done I am, I get terrified and cold and don’t quite know what I’m terrified of exactly. The Mean Reds.
It was especially strong today. As always it turned on for no reason and I didn’t know how to calm it down. It just lingered. All day. I had a meeting tonight and it was awful. Not only was it a waste of my time, it just made me feel less than a person. I felt belittled. I felt useless. And I was full of so much anger. So much anger.
As I fumed and swore and drove around to quiet my anger before driving home I decided to stop at a gas station for a cup of coffee. I walked inside and ran into someone I have not seen in nearly three years. For the sake of what followed, I’ll just call him Todd.
Todd and I had known each other for a long time. I think we may have even loved each other. But I was in a bad place. As I was for most of my 20s. I couldn’t focus on him or on anyone else in the way he probably deserved. So he left. Did he break my heart? No. Did I break his? Probably not. It was never at that level. But maybe it should have been.
In a lot of ways, Todd is who I still look for. The way he made me laugh. The way he challenged me. Who I was when I was with him. I miss that person. I really liked who Todd saw me as.
Running into him at a gas station in Guilford (or whatever town that stop is in) was probably the best thing that could happen for me tonight. It was like we never missed a beat. He gave me his smile. I smiled back. We hugged. I bought my coffee. And we sat in my car catching up. I stared at him for a few minutes. I was surprised how different he looked and yet he was completely the same. I thought back to our last few conversations before he moved away. Things were said. Things were done. But I don’t regret them. I know he doesn’t. And here we sat tonight talking like we had never been apart.
He told me about his new life out west (he was visiting family and flying back tomorrow). I told him about my life here. And I yelled about the meeting.
His response “Get over it.”
From anyone else that would have made me mad. From Todd, I knew it was right. Todd just said, the anger gets you no where. Only madder. It’s energy not well spent. He quoted Todd Snider. “Life’s too short to hate.”
And it’s true.
The Mean Reds are going to hit me. I’m going to suffer through them. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of where I am in this life. But I can’t spend so much time with my anger. Getting angry at work is getting me no where and it’s turning me into someone I do not want to be. Seeing Todd tonight reminded me of that. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to be bitter.
It may be another three years before I see Todd. The emotions tonight were all over the place. I’ll be processing those for a while. I remembered just how much I missed him. But more than missing Todd, I really miss who I was when he was around me. I was a better version of me. So much has happened in three years and in many ways my life stopped for a year. I stopped. But it’s all coming back to me at an obscenely fast pace. And I’m ready to go again.
Will I never get angry at work again? Probably not. But I’ll try real hard to remember how useless it is. And Get Over It. Because Life is too short to hate. The full quote from Todd Snider:
She said life’s too short to worry
Life’s too long to wait
Too short not to love everybody
Life’s too long to hate