Stranger

Lately I've been feeling wildly unhappy, and I'm not actually sure why. Even though my life is perfect. Even though I am healthy. Even though I have a wonderful support system. Life could be so much worse. 

But I've been thinking about dying. I've been thinking about how much my life would be different, if only I had stayed in Thailand, if only I hadn't decided to chain myself to a university, if only life wasn't focused around getting a degree and finding a secure job. If only.....

Last night I turned off all the lights in the house and sat cross-legged in front of the fire. I watched the glowing ambers and started to cry. I told the burning logs how unhappy I was. I could hear the logs telling me "things could be worse" "that doesn't help." I screamed back. 

I feel like I should be strong. That I should swallow back the churning salted sea in my throat. I angrily tried to wipe the tears off my cheeks but they only continued to pour down faster. 

A couple hours passed, filled with angry tears and complaints. I grew hungry and grabbed my car keys. 

A bag of junk food dangled from my arm as I hurried out of the grocery store. And then I saw him. He looked about fifty and he walked with a limp. I fished for my car keys and started walking across the dark parking lot. I hear shuffling behind me and turned. 

"How are you tonight miss?" I looked at him almost annoyed. I thought for a moment and then in a hollow voice I answered that I was fine. 

"Yeah?" He asked his eyes searching my face

"yeah" 

How am I? I smiled cynically to myself. I am a stranger in my own skin. I am lonely, even though i am surrounded by loved ones. I am anxious, even though I have nowhere to be. I want to be touched, but also I want to be left alone. I want everything to change. I want nothing at all. Numbness. Emptiness. 

I turned back to my car. 

"You know happiness is a choice." I turned again, raising my eyebrows I searched his face.

"I guess" we were both quiet for a moment. "Its so hard sometimes." I finally whispered

"I was sad for eight years. My son was murdered." I chocked and looked at him. His eyes were sad, full of untold heart break. His body bent in weariness. But he was smiling. I couldn't believe it, what did this old man have to smile about. 

"Eight years of cursing God, it took me eight years of wanting to die before I realized happiness is a choice we all have to make. And I chose to find my happiness. Despite the pain. 

I've probably said too much." His eyes shifted across the dark parking lot and then back at me
"Have a good night young lady. I truly hope you find your happiness." 

I stood fixed to the parking lot. I watched as he disappeared into the night. 

And that is when I felt it. A small glimmer of hope stirring within. 

Thank you dear stranger, for helping me realize happiness is a choice. I am glad you found yours.
I pray I find mine. 

joelle griswold