Know This Love: Putting anxiety to bed


This weekend I bought a mattress. The one I’ve been sleeping on since moving into my current place belongs to my landlady, and it’s so soft that it has started to hurt my back.

Buying a mattress is one of those things that seems simple at first, but very quickly turns into a complicated process.

After stopping at a couple of stores, probing the employees and stressing about where the money was going to come from, I found myself melting down in an anxious ball of indecision:

“Which mattress should I pick? What if I get the wrong one? What if Armageddon starts tomorrow and God comes down from heaven to declare unto me, ‘Thou should have waited on thy mattress purchase!’

How could I make this big of a decision on my own?

Even though I’ve almost totally avoided Facebook since moving to California, all this negative energy compounded quite nicely when I found myself on the Facebook page of someone better left in the past.

I saw things that hurt the sensitive tissues of my heart, and something broke in me that night. I wept till I shook, and well beyond that point, wanting only to curl up in a ball and be hugged.

*               *               *

On Dec. 23, I traveled back to Minnesota to see my family for a week. It was my first time back since I moved.

In small towns, nothing much changes. If a duck crosses the road, it makes the paper.

I drove through town in my dad’s pickup and surveyed what few changes there were. A new building had gone up on the main drag (an existing insurance agency had changed locations) – and as I’m writing this, it’s the only change I can call to mind.

My bedroom was basically the same as it was when I left, though a bit cleaner perhaps, thanks to my mom, and sparser for lack of all my stuff.

A sense of familiarity and stability settled into my soul, and something in me that had been tightened since I left home, relaxed.

Home, especially when it’s a small town, often seems frozen in time. We return for a moment, we see things and people haven’t seemed to change at all, and we know — with a touch of melancholy — that we’ve changed irrevocably.

Before visiting, I had begun to wonder on my darker days, whether I wouldn’t be happier moving back.

I soon saw, and felt, how wrong that was.

It’s like thinking fondly of an ex-girlfriend. You sometimes remember “the good times” and think, “Maybe that wasn’t so bad, maybe I should have stayed with her” – all the while forgetting there was a reason you broke up, a reason you left.

There were many reasons I left Luverne, Minnesota, and I don’t really miss it, other than in that nostalgic way you remember childhood memories.

I really only missed my family and a couple dear friends, and seeing them – my parents and grandparents in particular – cheered me in ways no amount of time at the beach could.

So when I returned home, escaping a -35 degree wind chill (yes, that’s a negative sign) for a much more temperate clime, it was difficult. I cried a little – couldn’t help it – just as I’d cried when I saw my parents at the airport.

*               *               *

Last night, bound up in anxiety about mattresses, money and lost loves, I finally lost it.

Not for the first time since moving here, I had a crisis of faith – in myself, in my “purpose,” in the future. I cried a lot, lost hours of sleep and talked on the phone with my parents.

Then the next day, I went back to the mattress store and told them which one I wanted.

It’s being delivered Thursday.

10th Winter Spare the Air issued for Monday

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