I remember a picture of me from the 1990s. I was on the terrace of the law firm where I worked at the time. They were having a Secretaries’ Day “celebration” something I abhorred for its phoney show of camaraderie. But my friends were there and the food was always good so I went. I recall that I was on one of my Lenten abstainence from alcohol so I was holding a can of club soda, leaning against the railing with my arms up on the edge. I had on big sunglasses, my black and red print dress with a swirly skirt to it that always took me back to Spain when I wore it, and on my face a look of Bad-Ass Attitude. That’s who everyone thought I was when I worked there. And sometimes I was — except when I was wasn’t.
I sometimes still think of myself as that fearless looking woman in the 90s or maybe I just want to believe that she is my true person and this often fearful Annie is a passing shadow. Has my fearfulness gotten worse as I move my way into the 70s? A few months ago, I asked my friend and acupuncturist, M, if she thought I was an anxious person. In her deep, still-strong Australian accent she said, “From the first time you came into my office, I said, ‘Here is a very anxious person.'” But she didn’t stop there, oh no, not M, with a smile she said, “Ann, if there was such a word I would say you are a castastropher!”
I was ashamed of myself for being the whiney, scaredy-cat woman she described. But, thinking back on the 20 odd years she’s known me, I thought, Gee, she has reason to say that. I don’t handle my catastrophies all that well. I really don’t. I like to think that I take it in stride, move forward positively become stronger for my adversities. But I don’t — and that’s the truth. I may keep a running litany going of “All Shall Be Well, and All Shall Be Well…and All Matter of Things Shall Be Well” but do I believe it? No! I’m like the woman on the ledge of the falling building in the Gorey animation for Masterpiece Mystery. She doesn’t do anything to get out of the storm. She just lies there and moans about her unfortunate predicament.
I’m like that. I always think the worse. I create absolutely, disastrous scenarios of what will happen as a result of my life being upturned by getting old or health issues looming large at 4 am or marriage breakups or being booted out of my home of 23 years or developers looming large in my new neighbourhood. It’s a wonder I still have friends — including M — after they have suffered through my negativity and my chest-thumping Woe-Is-Mes as I muddled my way through this life.
I think its time to release that Bad-Ass Attitude Woman from the 90s and get on with this living while I still have a chance to do it. I took a tiny first step the other day and, finally, went for a walk down in the ravine that’s at the end of my street. I have not gone before this because I was afraid of creepy men and coyotes and foxes and falling down and never being found — except by those coyotes.
It’s quite beautiful and peaceful down there — nature right in the middle of this big city. Of course, I have to confess, I did go with my friend but that just made it better.