Maybe it wasn't really a failure.
She was second-guessing herself again. Maybe this was where she was meant to be. A decade from now, she might see it as a happy accident or just a natural progression of the general direction her life was going.
Doors had certainly been closed, forcing her to try new ones, perhaps ones she never considered and would never have considered if those other doors hadn't closed. The upswings and downswings came every day, but they were part of a larger trajectory that was written over the course of weeks and months. And those swings happened over the larger arcs of years and decades.
Nobody could really judge where anything was going.
There were brief periods, moments really, of great joy, along with the long stretches of both hopelessness and numbness. It was difficult trying to make sense of it all at once. Maybe she wasn't meant to. Maybe she was just making things too complicated for herself.
It was hard to resist, in those long stretches of time when nothing else was happening, except the thoughts spiralling in her mind. But the sun was out. The day was bright. She didn't have a place to go, but she decided to put on her shoes anyway.
A comfortable pair. She didn't know where she'd end up, or if she'd need them, but it was worth a shot.
And out of her door she went, with no particular goal in mind. There were a few scattered clouds overhead. Instead of focusing on the streets around her, she followed the clouds instead. There was no particular reason not to.
It would give her body something to do, to keep her thoughts away from the grand scheme of where she thought her life was going. There was no way she could really predict it anyway. The sun beat down and she could feel it on her skin.
Sunscreen. She should've thought of that before she left. It was too late now. She could always head back but she would lose all momentum and probably just end up spending the rest of her day at home again. She pressed forward, attempting to find a few rare patches of shade to walk under.
The wind picked up a little. She could feel its coolness blowing across the sweat beaded on her arms. She hadn't brought her phone with her. She had no watch. If she was going to judge how far she walked, it would have to be by her knowledge of the neighborhood.
Fortunately she had been around long enough to recognize all the major streets, though if she wandered down some of the smaller ones, she'd surely find things she'd never seen before. Good for exploring, bad for finding her way back. But it was a good distraction from her life. Yes, gotta keep herself distracted.
Get too comfortable in a rhythm and she'd start thinking about the past few months, the past few years again. Dreams dashed on the rocks of cold reality, perhaps unrealistic dreams to begin with. No, definitely not something she wanted to overanalyze, not right now anyway.
There was a set of stores up ahead. Maybe she could force herself to think about what they were peddling by going in. A drug store. Nothing she particularly needed or wanted from a drug store, but it would have to do.
It certainly had shelves of various different things. Maybe they could hold her attention, draw her out of her mind. She wandered in absentmindedly. She imagined the employees could tell she had no real reason to be there, not making any particular show of looking for something. Then she saw the greeting card section.
Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. Maybe she'd be able to find some folksy wisdom among the cards written by those paid to condense their thoughts and emotions.
She scanned the various sections, reading a few cards here or there. Most of them were trite, or at least it was hard to bring herself to care about their messages. Perhaps that was unfair. Someone, somewhere, had put real effort into making something that they hoped would appeal to at least two people at the same time, two people who knew one another intimately, yet for one reason or another, were unable to fully communicate what they wanted to communicate.
She picked out a few that she thought were especially well written, but she didn't know what she was going to do with them. She didn't want to display them at home. There was no point in starting a collection. No, she wanted something she could send.
She put the cards she had picked out back. They were well-written but they didn't apply to her life at all.
She left the store with a person in mind. And one card. A card without text, only art. Impressionistic. Mission accomplished. It was no great success, but what really was?
Her trip for the day was done and she started home, at a more determined pace this time. She would not be looking at the clouds or thinking about where her life was going. She would be thinking about what to write in the card.
Maybe she needed to do this more. Maybe she'd come back again the next day, taking the same route to clear her head. Maybe she'd write to someone else she hadn't talked to for a while. That would be a plan. She wasn't going to force herself into it, but that was something that would be interesting.
She didn't know where it was going to take her, but it was high time she took a few steps in those directions.
It wasn't so warm anymore. She wished she'd brought a jacket. Her feet were starting to get a bit sore. She'd need to remember to find some better shoes. She was sure she already had some somewhere. In the meantime she was mentally preparing a collection of messages and notes she needed to write, or at least wanted to write.
Maybe she wouldn't get a response. She didn't know. But would even that be a failure. Maybe that wasn't where she was supposed to be looking. Maybe she was supposed to be looking at the writing itself, and in the sending. Some things she'd never be able to control, but she could try harder to change her own behavior and her immediate surroundings. Perhaps that was how she should've been measuring herself all along.