It was 4 am and I was debating the virtues of putting the kettle on or brewing coffee instead.
Coffee won, after multiple other activities: hair washing, laundry, starting up the essential oil diffusers, watering the plants, topping off the fish tank, arguing with the cat, and using the shop vac to tidy the garage.
All before 5:30 am.
And now the lawn is watering, I am prepared to grade a few last papers to close out one of my classes before day’s end, and I have coffee. If you were to happen by my home at this very moment, you would find the front door open and if you stood at the street, you could probably hear Birocratic playing, since that’s who’s on the streaming music just now.
You’d probably also figure the person who lived here was insane, which may or may not be true.
Many people figure that fiction writers are, at minimum, a pinch off-center. After all, we see the world as a collection of stories to be told, don’t we? We see amusing, lurid, frightening, or heart-tugging tales everywhere we look. We put them to paper (or screen, as it were) and send them off into the wilderness. Sometimes they are adopted by a curious reader and sometimes those curious readers come searching us out, desiring to adopt more word-children. That’s how we get published and become known folks, but those on the other side of the page still figure we are a bit, you know …
I have decided already that I will finish off the last little corner of the chicken parmesan I cooked several days ago. I have to go to the market later and have no real desire to do it and that meal will fortify me. It is Friday and there will be lots of people in there — as it is payday for many, the bank line (there is a branch in the front of the store) will be long, there will be college students and others loading up on cases of brew and ice for the weekend. Like the local cat lady, I need to pay one bill and purchase dog (and cat) food, plus I want one meat item because I have a plan for a dish that I’d like to try and create.
There is something that happens when you no longer have the same levels of responsibility for others that you once had. I have always worked; I got my first job at 16 and have had very few months without gainful employment in what feels like centuries since. I was pregnant and working when I got the call that my dad had died in a car accident on his way to work. I went back to the office as soon as I was healthy enough to do so after my son was born prematurely and my C-section healed. I went back to work the week after the first husband died. I was a single mom for a while and my universe revolved around the needs of my son. I married again and while my husband worked on weekends, I worked our little side business and was a sidekick/errand runner for his dad, who was older by then and needed looking after. I worked the entirety of my time as a doctoral student. I was off for about two weeks while we moved cross-country, during which time I packed up one house, drove across the nation, unpacked in another, and continued my dissertation work, which I finished while working full-time. I had a stint of not working for anyone else and was a freelancer on a part-time basis when Christopher got sick, but I typically carried my laptop or other device to work on when he was in hospital or at doctor’s appointments.
I am no longer married, no longer a caregiver. My son lives elsewhere. I am beholden to the fish in my family room, the cat in my garage, and the two dogs who are staring at me as I write this latest missive. I stand in the street and chat with the neighbors. I talk to my sister-friend’s dogs down the way, my doggie niece and nephew. If, in the middle of the day, I decide I want to watch TV or go shopping for a new shirt, I do. If I want to work in my robe all day, I do. If I want to laugh out loud like a braying donkey or yell about the exciting thing on the show I am watching, I do. That’s not to say I wouldn’t share my universe again, but just now, I am leader of the pack — unruly, only partially contained. I am, at least at present and on occasion, a bit more squiggle than I am line:
I suddenly think of the Twilight Zone episode about the old man who plays Kick the Can and how his fellow nursing home residents thought he was nutty. And he ended up happier than all of them.
You might think I am legally insane, but really, it’s just part of the process. My soul spaces are healing. I am enjoying life in my own private sanctuary. Give it a go. People might think you are insane, but wait until you see how good you feel.
I dare you.