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A Passing Cloud

I’ve been a little sad for the last week.

I’m not really sure why. Last night I finally tried to put words to whatever it is I’ve been feeling. I sat on the deck with Greg at dusk, the cicadas ringing in the trees and little drifts of fallen golden leaves all around us on the wood.

Tears dripped down onto my shirt and I stared out through the branches at the river swirling by.

I can’t quite put my finger on it. Something is amiss. Would it be wrong to say that I’m not happy? Is it impossible to feel that I still don’t have roots here, in my life in Chicago? That I miss California, but no longer feel like that place is home either? Is it possible, in the midst of all the good things in my life, I’m still not satisfied?

In one of the many articles I read following David Foster Wallace’s death, I distinctly remember a quoted passage in which he spoke of his depression. He wondered if it was an American thing, this not feeling satisfied even when things are better than they’ve ever been.

Still, a lingering quiet dullness permeates my days. There are bright moments, flashes of fulfillment, of peace, but overall, a drifting cloud.

I’ll try to be patient with myself. To keep walking. To hold still in those bright moments. To recognize the cloud for what it is, to not pretend it isn’t there. To remember that life, if nothing else, is always moving forward.


  1. Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

    Comment by Ange on September 24, 2008 at 8:51 am

  2. Claire,
    Your writing always resonantes with such a connection with your parents, their loss, and your connection to people of today who may be gone tomorrow. Perhaps your heart drizzles sweetness so much into the bowls of others that you’re in need of an emotional bailout. Those of us in California await you (and Greg) with honeyed drizzle sticks. You are so loved and respected. Your words inspire others to express or at the very least to think and feel. Find a flower from which to draw breath today. Take solace in the arms of that twinkly-eyed hubbie of yours. My, how he adores you! Smile today thinking of us sneaking a cigarette in the back by the dumpsters…hoping the black-booted monster didn’t appear.

    Comment by Zora on September 24, 2008 at 9:58 am

  3. Your minor melancholy seems a trifle self-indulgent.
    Your ambitions leads you to dissatifaction. Your expectations of the happiness and achievements that the day should bring are perhaps unrealistic.
    Do yourself a favour and set the bar lower. It is a good day if you or a loved one is not in pain, if nobody you know died, if you didn’t crash the car. With that kind of threshold, you can have heaps of good days. Then you can add more good things like warm sunshine, a good meal, a gentle touch, a kind word, a well worded article, until it becomes a wonderful day.
    Oh yes, and as you seem attracted to meancholy and tears, reserve a couple of private hours each week to think about sad and sweet things so it doesn’t hang over the rest of the week.

    Comment by Paul on September 25, 2008 at 12:49 am

  4. Thanks for the comments, gang.
    Paul, I think you’re right and I meant to convey that a bit in my post. My melancholy feels terribly self-indulgent. A feeling that only lends itself to more self-disappointment. Ridiculous.
    I’m working through it all, I think. It helps to voice it.
    Amber, thanks for your sweet words and encouragement. Can’t wait to see you soon!
    Ange, if I could live anywhere in the world it would probably be California again. Maybe not Los Angeles but definitely California. And maybe that’s in store for me down the road. For now, I think I need to learn to be happy here in Chicago.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on September 25, 2008 at 7:42 am

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