1. In the book, Orange Buffalo by Grayson Queen, the orange buffalo is a legend. Tracking a regular brown buffalo is a feat of skill. A rare white buffalo thus represents the nearly impossible hunt for something, whereas an orange buffalo represents the search for something that simply doesn’t exist. Have you ever searched for an orange buffalo– a truly false or impossible dream?
I live ‘in an area’ where ‘buffalo are scarce’, most I can chase are white, or quite probably orange.
Truly t’would be a treat to buffalo some buffalo into befuddlement, capturing my prizes by surprise. That would be peachy, but it might be orange to even try.
To speak only slightly more plainly, but still make a reference, I’d like to live like I had a non-sick person’s Spoons (capital S).
That is an orange buffalo. An orange buffalo of ‘average’ expectations.
I needed a nap today after just 2 hours of visiting with my in laws for dinner. Having done no chores except laundry, accomplishing nothing else today, I woke from napping knowing I’ll be exhausted in 4 hours after doing nothing in particular, or sooner if I do something.
This is because I’ve got another sinus infection, something I can expect an average of 1-3 times a year for the rest of my life; times where I’ll have about this amount of energy for the month I’m fighting it.
Perhaps if that were my only struggle, the rest of the year I could chase as many buffalo as my feet could help me overtake.
In my youth depression rolled the landscape of my life into steep cliffs and deep chasms, the buffalo startled easily and mostly and jumped in to crevasses too deep to scale and even make a meal of their corpses.
At this point my anxiety eats up my energy, greedily gobbling my every second potential step, shortening the length of the hunt I can make for any buffalo I choose to chase.
I fight the winds of whisper, the autumn leaves whirling round me in buffalo shapes, taunting.
The hum of my heart beat set to an irrational drum, thrumming through my whole body with the urgency to flee, and there is nowhere to flee.
I tell myself it’s okay. I ask myself what’s wrong. I find my fears, drag them from the shadows, number them, label them, banish many with brands so they can not return, inform the rest they are unnecessary and push them from my thoughts.
I am sure I should be fine. I plead with my inner self “Please, if you calm down, we can do something fun”, very little changes, I thrum.
The buffalo I’m chasing now changes colour depending on the landscape of my health, reflecting the surroundings, just a white buffalo would in indirect light. When I am feeling motivated and well it’s in the thick of the forests of dreams, reflecting the rich mahogany. Then as I grow ill the forests burn, and through the smoke the buffalo appears orange against the flickering blazes. In the cool mists of my healing rains the buffalo is white, waiting for me to give chase again.
This buffalo is the embodiment of being “1/4th functional”. I’ll never be as functional as a normal person, but I think I should be able to manage being about 1/4th as functional.
I’d like to consistently accomplish simple day to day tasks and goals, have enough energy to do a few fun things, and hopefully go to school to further self actualization, and of course also work towards accomplishing long-term goals.
When I am at my most ill I can not do those things, and I wonder if I am even fit to take care of myself let alone any potential future child I want to have.
The edge of functionality, that’s where I tred, and trying to walk into the beautiful green field of accomplishment is leaving me stepping in manure piles, because it’s a place of getting shit done. Something which I seem only half or a quarter capable of, I can get up to the point where I’m pissing in the wind and the buck stops there because I get buffaloed.
I don’t want to be normal, don’t need to be, but I want to have enough energy to live satisfyingly by my own standards.
The orange buffalo of average expectations stands on horizon of my illness, a warm-yellow that might appear brown to someone closer in proximity, but against the sun it is orange for me, to expend my energy and ignore my limits and try to live as other people do chasing buffalo willy-nilly.
I can not, I must plan my hunts very carefully for buffalo nearer-by.
2. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a break-up?
Well first, I really like Rara Saur’s answer to this: “Building a relationship is about the shape of your life, as much as it’s about the shape of your personality. Sometimes people fit, but lives don’t.”
The breakdown of my parents marriage is probably the more important crumbling of a relationship in my life… So what did I learn from that?
That people can love you, and you them, and they can still be hurtful to your life and the lives of others you care about.
That even combined truth, love, and logic, can not change someone else’s behaviour, even if it’s good for everyone, including them, they have to want what you want.
That sometimes you have to care for the people you look up to, just as they do for you.
That you can learn to live without anyone, even people you thought integral to your life, it just hurts a lot.
That sometimes even if it’s not your place you, have to overstep your bounds, to keep worse harms from coming to pass. (I took it upon myself to change the locks on the house, and locked my mother out. Cold? Yes, a little. Also necessary to move out of a potentially endless cycle of hurt and half-hearted hope. My dad couldn’t do it and someone had to.)
That you can control hurt if you know how to set boundaries, and with them, see someone you once thought had to be cut away entirely.
I learned that even when you crumble you can be strong, because there isn’t just one form of strength.
3. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you get there? If not, what happened?
Most of my life I’ve openly acknowledge that I really haven’t known what I want to be.
When asked asked in kindergarten what I wanted to be, I lied and said I wanted to be a ballet dancer.
Lying made me hate myself, but I didn’t have a real answer and it was a semi-random selection on the mental list of things I thought they might want me to say.
Two of my cousins were in ballet, one of each gender so it seemed like a very open choice to me, and I was in gymnastics which my mom told me was similar; that made ballet a familiar option, low hanging fruit at the time.
On top of that, it seemed much less complicated than, say, being a doctor, which sounded so noble.
Someone made the mistake of informing me that I’d someday have to choose; leaving me with the trouble of not knowing all the options, but sure I needed to find a box to settle myself into. I didn’t want to, I decided I didn’t want to even grow up, I wanted to fly off with Peter Pan to neverland.
I just couldn’t picture myself trying to fulfill the roles I saw adults having, and trying to picture it scared me. I knew too that if I made the wrong choice, changing jobs wasn’t as simple as flipping cardboard outfits on my paper dolls. My dad had changed jobs, and we’d had to move from our little town to a completely different place, he even stopped living in the same house as us for a while; it all seemed very hard.
As I got a little older someone told me I should try to do a job based on things I like, and skills I had. So I decided I wanted to be an artist.
The idea of spending hours or days working on the beautiful illustrations in childrens books, or on the front of fantasy covers sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, just being able to draw doesn’t make that a viable career choice.
For most of the jobs you also have to know coding, which I couldn’t seem to make myself have an appetite for, or have a second job (or possibly career) on top of working on your art.
I still enjoy drawing, I’ll likely never give it up as at least a hobby.
It is my opinion that if you don’t want to be, you never have to consider yourself “all grown up”, something about that sounds like stopping learning, ceasing to dream, and those are things I’ll never stop. Even if I am already an adult, I’m not “a grown up”.
So now as I continue to grow up, I think I’d like to become a pharmacy assistant. Who knows, perhaps by the time I’m retirement age I’ll have managed it, or even who knows perhaps a full pharmacist. Or maybe I’ll eventually leave it by the way side, continuing as a hobby to learn about chemicals, memorizing pharmaceutical names for drugs and their side effects.
Perhaps I’ll have nothing but hobbies.
4. Is there something in your past you’d like to do over? How do you think it would change your life if you had the opportunity to do so?
I’m not sure. A lot of the things I’d want to change were also heavily impacted by either my lack of knowledge at the time, or external pressures. Many of them would also alter the general flow of my life and give me new things to enjoy as well as removing the parts of my life I currently like.
An example: My parents knowing that I needed to go to the doctor and get antibiotics every single time I got incredibly sick would probably have saved me a lot of misery, perhaps ‘saved’ my school life, that might have made me a more independent person– it probably would have impacted the whole rest of my life, I probably wouldn’t have met my husband as I’d be on a different track in life.
The me in that version of life of course wouldn’t know any different and so would just be okay with whatever she has.
Perhaps the simplest change that that impacts little except to improve freedom and quality of life, would have been for me to get disability sooner, and ensure my husband hadn’t lost his savings so that we’d not be in debt now.
That is something I could change in good conscience, which doesn’t impact who I am, and doesn’t remove the happiness I do have with my husband now.
5. In the novel there’s a repeating series of lines, referring to society’s predictions for the main character– the good and bad.
“What a nice boy, a good boy, so much potential. He’s going to grow up to be president, a novelist, a hypocrite, a sellout.”
Write your own.
What a bright girl, an empathetic and caring girl, so promising. She’ll grow up up to be a biologist, a poet, a doctor, an artist, a waste of space, broken beyond repair, selfish and crazy, just like her mother.
Thanks for the interesting frame work Rara Saur. 🙂
(If anyone else feels like answering these just link back to Rara Saur — I’d be keen to know other peoples answers. :D)