My life is too good, and it’s starting to scare me.
I can hear sympathy turning off all over the internet, so let me hasten to say that my life is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That’s kinda the problem.
It’s going too well. I have moderate writing success, a boyfriend who is deeply and genuinely good, which sounds corny and really isn’t, and enough money in my bank account that I don’t need to worry about how to pay the electric bill, and believe me, if you grew up poor, that feels like vast and inconceivable wealth.
I find I am waiting for the hammer to fall.
It may be Catholic upbringing or a generally well-concealed pessimism, it may be a superstitious belief that the gods are jealous of too much happiness, it may be coping skills so well-honed that they are desperately seeking things to cope with, but I can’t help but feel that somewhere, surely, there must be a hammer. In the deep watches of the night, I wonder where it is, and whether I’ll see it coming, or whether I’ll just get an aneurysm and die on the toilet.
This has nothing to do with whether or not I deserve to be happy. Everybody deserves to be happy. Everybody deserves joy and peace and recognition. We don’t all get it. Life is full of things that nobody deserves, both good and bad. The fact that sometimes we get what we don’t deserve is hope and dread all at once.
And it has nothing to do with talent, which again, is as much a matter of life landing on the deserving and undeserving alike. There are people who couldn’t wordsmith their way out of a wet cardboard box who can light their cigars with hundred dollar bills. And there is someone out there right now with ten times my talent and none of my flaws, who is writing a book of miserable, shaky-eyed beauty, the sort of the book that makes you howl like a dog and gnaw on the covers, and when they are done, they will shove it in a drawer and twenty years from now, the executor of their estate will say “Hmm, old papers. Put it out by the curb.”
That’s just life. If you think about it too much, you won’t ever get anything done.
No, I think it’s a well-honed sense of narrative that makes me worry. When your life is wonderful, that’s not a story. That’s where the story starts, and it generally involves all that being taken away, and I start to hear a narrator somewhere in a made-for-TV movie trailer starting up with “SHE HAD EVERYTHING, UNTIL…”
What happens after that depends on the kind of movie, and also on my mood.
…UNTIL SHE GOT HORRIBLY ILL! (Life-affirming story of overcoming disease du jour, or possibly short, tragic plea for greater funding for disease du jour research. Hopefully not really heavy-handed life-affirming story of recovering from horrible brain injury and learning to paint again with a brush held in my eyelids, because Christ, I am not cut out for that.)
…UNTIL A DERANGED MURDERER TORE HER WORLD APART! (Movie version of Dean Koontz novel, in which case I will end it with a golden retriever and a working knowledge of firearms. Alternately, trailer for Saw 23: Saw vs. Predator vs. Leprechaun.)
…UNTIL IT TURNED OUT SHE WAS MARRIED TO A SERIAL KILLER/RUSSIAN SPY/STEPFORD ROBOT ALL ALONG! (While I would absolutely be the person going “No, honestly, I had no idea at all!” I will say that Kevin is doing one hell of a good acting job and has disposed of the bodies really really well, and also that the Stepford robots fart quite a lot in their sleep.)
…UNTIL CLOWN-FACED VELOCIRAPTOR CULTISTS FROM OUTER SPACE ATE HER HEAD! (Sci-Fi Channel is probably involved in this one, and as I have large breasts and cannot use a chainsaw, I am at least assured of being put out of my misery in the first twenty minutes, although my zombie body may come back in a suitably wet and badly ripped t-shirt to act as bait for the stupider members of the protagonist’s party.)
Well. It’s a high-class problem to have, as they say. The problem is that when things are good, and you’ve pretty much got everything you ever wanted—moderate success, a garden, love…I guess it’s probably normal to be afraid of it all going away. And lord knows, life will probably generate enough suffering to keep me busy between now and my eventual possibly-velociraptor-assisted end, and I should stop worrying.
Still, it nags at me. Mostly at night. Worry is not so easily turned off merely by knowing that one should stop.