I’m sitting here in the family room on my Crate and Barrel 15-year-old sectional. It’s 10:23pm. I just spent the past hour in my 8 year old daughter’s room reading “The Secret Garden” to her, in bed – trying to convince her that it really is a great book, if she would give it a chance. I tell her that my mom read it to me when I was little.
Her response, “They didn’t have that book when you were little.”
“Of course they did.” I said, trying to hold back the sarcasm.
What I really wanted to say was “Well, it wasn’t a printed book. My mom read from the carvings on the wall of the cave by the light of the fire.”
I’m thinking about another day passed as I navigate Apple TV. I think about gratitude. I think about accomplishment. I think about intention. My mind races around this time of night so I think about a lot of fricken things. I know I’m supposed to be grateful, count my blessings, appreciate what I have, smile, focus on the good things in life, appreciate the little things, breathe, observe, let go, blah, blah, blah. Fuck that.
The sound of crickets is seeping through the double pane mahogany windows. Too many to keep track of—crickets that is, not windows, although there are a lot of those too. I am thankful that the crickets are outside instead of at my feet.
I think about what my therapist said. “Dance.” She said. “Dance and draw.” She said. “Dance while no one’s watching. Take some time for yourself. Play.” She said.
Play. HAH. Play. Who has time for play? Wait. I do. I mean, I am free. I can do what I want right? So why do I feign a prison existence?
“I can’t remember the last time I was free to do what I wanted,” a friend said to me recently. “It’s a luxury to write all day,” she said, commenting on my multiple writing groups.
“Is it?” I said.
I thought about that. I traveled the paths of guilt in my mind. Is it a luxury to write all day? I suppose it is. But without writing, I would be unbearable. I think I’ve earned the right to a few luxuries. I’ve mastered my trade, paid my dues, taken one for the team. I’ve earned the right to write if I want. I’ve earned the right to decide my destiny. I’ve earned the right to live my life, grab the bull by the horns, hit the ground running. I don’t owe anybody anything, except maybe my children. My daughter, who always wants me to lie down with her before bed, who always drags out bedtime, pulling out all the stops, who always cuddles up and says “I love you, mama,” over and over again. So, I read to her. Then, I wait. I wait for her to close her eyes. I wait for her to stop shifting around. I wait for her to stop staring at the ceiling. Tick. Tock.
Once my daughter is asleep, I usually roll myself out of her tiny twin bed to have some semblance of an evening. I’m always hoping for some fun and excitement once the kids go to sleep.
I follow the same pattern most nights. I wander down the dark hallway to the boy’s room—sleeping. Check. Husband not in boy’s beds. Check. I continue down the hall. Husband asleep with his clothes on, on top of the duvet on European King. Check.
I make my way to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of my husband’s expensive, red wine (always Italian or French). I grab my laptop and head into the family room, where I attempt to watch TV, drink wine and write at the same time. You know, kill three birds with one stone, burn the midnight oil, bite off more than I can chew. Usually, two out of three win and writing suffers, but at least I feel like I made the effort, that counts for something right?
“Drinking Buddies.” Hmm. That could be a good movie. I like Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and drinking. Good combination. Good writing. Good fodder for my brain, maybe.
I wonder if I should attempt the writing exercise my therapist mentioned. A positive narrative. That’s what she said. “Write a positive narrative of your life so far.”
My life so far.
My life so far.
I have a TON to be thankful for. A TON. I do. BUT, I’d rather be Rand. I’d rather be Kerouac. I’d rather be Hemingway. I’d rather be Bukowski. I’d rather be Camus. I’d rather be Dostoyevsky. I’d rather be anyone else but me.
So I sit here, thinking about writing, thinking about reading, thinking about everything and nothing. Whiling away the time watching TV. Wishing I could write a positive narrative. Wishing I could ignore that negative voice in my head. Wishing I could. But then I realize I don’t want to. You see, it’s the dark side I am thankful for. I like the dark side. I like the depths of my thoughts. I like them. Why? Because they help me write. They help me create. They help me.
I mean inside, deep inside, I know I’m fortunate. I know I’m appreciative. I know I’m positive. But I’m none of those things in therapy. That’s not why I go to therapy. Right? In therapy, if I just sat there expressing all my positive thoughts, all dewy-eyed then WTF would be the point of going?
I’ve asked myself that question often, in fact, every time I write the fricken’ check I ask myself that very question. What is the point?
The point is to vent. And, in that venting that women so often do, in that venting that my friends and husband don’t want to hear, in the venting that has no real solution, comes healing, or maybe it doesn’t according to an article I just read.
Healing takes time. I’m not in a rush. I’m not. Because I’ve come to a realization that the day I can write a positive narrative of my life so far without reservation may be the day I stop writing, or at least the day I stop writing anything I want to read. So, I am thankful I notice the shit around me. I am thankful I’ve had shit in my life. I’m thankful I’ve got shit to heal from. Because I know that if life were a bed of roses, it would be one boring life. Hell, I’d be searching for the fucking thorns like my life depended on it. It’s the writer in me. What can I say?
So, tonight I will drink my glass of wine and watch The Killing. I’m three episodes into season three. I love Holder & Linden right now. What great characters. They both have some healing to do. Bring it on.