May 1st, 2008
I’ve wanted to write, yet I haven’t.
I’m doing that second guessing thing I do, hesitating to put anything down because what it might reveal about me — things I’m not too sure should see the light of day — or what you would think — but then I know this is for me, and an audience shouldn’t matter.
It’s been a trying week, for completely meaningless reasons, like spilled cheerios ground into our shag rug, Craisins spewed all over the car upholstery, and the whole house smelling like pee, and for weightier issues like spousal arguscussions and bad momness.
What I’ve discovered is that I’m a whiner, and this blog’s taught me that better than anything. I’m particularly embarrassed by the home decorating post, where I see the pictures of how lucky I am, but still somehow want more. Story of my life, that is. And it’s humiliatingly brought home when I take those angsty thoughts and commit them to “paper.” So much of what I obsess about is flighty and fleeting.
Feeling sorry for myself is an art form, I hate to say. This week, I experienced the pains of envy at other bloggers getting book deals and freelance offers and party invites and come on! I actually and truly cried when I thought about how I always seem to miss the mark with my dreams, have settled into mediocrity and never get what’s coming to me. I lay on the bed last night and told The Rock that there’s nothing special about me and how I’ll never rise to any sort of extraordinariness. Not fame, mind you, just an acknowledgement that I’m good at something, anything. Or not, anything, but something. And the realization that I may just need to settle at so-so, and there will always be those who are better, and whine, whine, whine.
The Rock, in true rock form, said, “Yes, there are plenty of people who are better,” and “So what? What are you going to do? Curl up and stop?”, Then: “How about your children? And your limbs, which by the way, you still have? And that we live two blocks from the beautiful ocean and you’re not starving and…”
So there you have it: I’m a pain in the ass.
As you may guess, The Rock is my rock, even though it’s been tough lately and not just lately. I’ve said before, we’re both opinionated, strong-willed, high-strung people and fiercely independent. So we clash. But I can always truthfully say that there is no one I’d rather be with. I don’t imagine myself with someone else, because no one else “gets it” the way he does and I’m thankful.
Our arguscussion the other night became heated and ugly and sad. Long story interminably longer: there was an AT&T UVerse installation which mucked up our infrastructure (our phone STILL doesn’t work) and we lost our shit and took it out on each other. Then, I had to go and throw in the “fact” that he doesn’t grocery shop or launder or clean enough and that was the gauntlet.
Truth be known, I’m tired and drained by motherhood, wifehood, personhood right now. As the mother computer here, I’m flashing error messages all over the place. I don’t want to think about birthday presents or friends coming to town or calling the phone guy or getting milk or preparing dinner. I need a reboot. I feel as if my brain is crumbling, bit by bit; and any original thought, talent, skill, I’ve ever had is crumbling like old paint. It’s as if it’s all I can do to hold onto anything real, or substantial, because real and substantial take effort and time and I’m so tired.
So, I took it out on my husband and kids and checked out mentally and emotionally.
I’m still there. But The Rock and I made up, mostly due to his habit of cutting through my emotionality and providing objectivity and a good dose of common sense. I’m glad he still tries. Especially since I tend to sit too long at my computer and ignore him when “Ghost Hunters” is on. I’ve seen myself through new eyes these past few months and I don’t like all I’m seeing. So much of my discontent could surely be attributed to knowing my need to change and being unsure how to proceed.
I just want to be a better person, that’s all.
And speaking of better people, here’s my friend Rebecca:
She’ll be 94 in August, but she hates labels like that, because she tells me to just “be,” don’t be in the context of an age, a gender, an expectation.
I began visiting her in 2001, soon after I was married. I volunteered through an organization called ElderHelp, which matched me with Rebecca, one of their pickier clients, as I was a writer, like her.
Rebecca is a Christian Scientist practitioner, who gently re-frames your thinking and guides you to the light. Really. And I’m so blessed to have her in my life.
Yesterday, I needed her.
I love Rebecca and her well manicured hands and her bright clothes and mind.
I love her saucy laugh. And that she’s had four husbands. And her stories of being a governess to a prominent Washington, D.C. family, of living at Haight and Ashbury and running away to Florida with a man. I wish her son, the one who died of pneumonia as an infant, had the chance to be raised by Rebecca.
I love that Rebecca painted this, and when I said it looked like a dream, she said that’s exactly what it was.
And that she gave it to me in honor of my dreaming.
She always makes me leave with something: a ring I’ve admired, a can of kidney beans, a tin of sardines or this stuff, which she gave me yesterday:
I have a key to her place. A key she gave me to clean out her apartment after she passes on, and I don’t like to look at that key. Rebecca is in excellent health and has all her wits about her, but still…94. On our way to see her yesterday, Toots asked me if Rebecca were going to die soon, and I said no, hopefully. I want my children to know her better.
I’ve loved Rebecca a long time. Five years ago, I wrote this about her:
Her name is Rebecca. I try to visit her once on week, on Sundays. She lives nearby, in a one-room apartment complex made up of active seniors. She has only one chair outside her door, so people stopping by don’t settle in and start endlessly talking about cancers, polyps, and liver spots. She rarely invites someone in for a visit. She prefers her own company to that of people who feel sorry for themselves. She tells me that a one-hour chat is enough. After that, it’s time to go.
Once, she made me rice and curried vegetables. That time, I stayed for almost three hours, her time limit for guests forgotten. We talked about her four husbands, her life in San Francisco with Hilton, a musician whom she loved very much. She told what she saw at Haight Ashbury firsthand. She tells me how she came to be a Christian Scientist, and that logic will save you.
She reads only non-fiction, yet indulges me by reading my book-in-progress out loud, one chapter each visit.
Once a week, she sends in a column to a local Macon, Georgia newspaper. The last column she wrote spoke of a house abandoned by a friend’s family in the 1920s. The family just left the house one day, with all of its innards intact. Furniture, food, bed linens, everything stayed in the house while the family moved 50 miles away. Rebecca’s friend talked about this house for decades, but couldn’t remember how to get there, as it was in the middle of the woods. One day about 40 years ago, when Rebecca was 47, her friend and several others, went on a wild goose chase to find the house. They just drove into the woods, and it all came back to Rebecca’s friend. She pointed out the tiny dirt roads they’d need to take to get to the house. About an hour later, they were snaking up the driveway. The woman still had the key to the door, a key she’d carried with her for many dozens of years.
When they’d all made their way inside, Rebecca’s friend saw that everything was the exact same as she’d remembered it. Dishes on the table, beds unmade, curtains closed. Nothing had been touched.
Except, when she looked out the window into the yard, she noticed a dogwood tree was missing.
Later, after Rebecca had read me this story, it was time for me to go.
She had paid $3 for a hotdog lunch, being served in the activity room. Normally, Rebecca dislikes these group functions, since they seem so child-like and silly, but she had decided to go this one time. Still, she tells me, she’ll only keep one chair outside her door.
So when I think about my life, and its imagined inadequacies, I remember Rebecca and what it is to be blessed.
And so maybe it’s not that you’re extraordinary, it’s who your extraordinary to.