It must have been Fall 2003 semester because I had moved into university apartments and, unrelated, had a brief affair with the pediatrician. But a classmate in my undergrad creative non-fiction class slipped a cd into my hands as we left class. “Calluna” scribbled in Sharpie over the front, it was housed in one of those old crinkly paper envelopes with a cellophane window. Aimee Mann’s “Red Vines” and “Long December” and three Tool tracks and a bunch I don’t remember and could never identify; it went long, had a logical progression, and I played it for 16 years until I bought a car that didn’t have a cd player.
I don’t remember his name, but I do remember it was after a workshop in which the class and instructor focused wholly on one event in my essay instead of workshopping the entire piece and I was exhausted. I was frustrated that I wasn’t communicating what I was trying to say, and worried that I would never learn to do it effectively. Aside from the mixes my son has made for me, this was the most personally astute and seasonably appropriate mix I have ever encountered, and I wonder still if anyone has ever considered me as well as that stranger from ENG 309.
And now I am forty. This morning I had to audibly tell myself not to go get a pair of maternity pants (my child is 2.5 years old), and I pouted putting on my “good leggings” and a pair of ankle boots in an attempt to Look Like a Grownup. My daughter often plants her sticky hands on the sides of my face and cranks my head around to wherever she is: “Look at me!” she says, and I know exactly what she’s talking about.
We had another stretch at home, everyone has been sick, and I’m in the middle of serial CDC testing. On one hand, I’m glad they are paying attention but on the other, I don’t have time for this. Because the world has decided to move on the we all are moving on and trying to do, I don’t know, our work? But we’re still in the middle of a fucking pandemic and all of this takes time. So much time.
The other day I thought that I might just dissolve into a smoking pile of Reductress memes. Here I am – with one foot on the escalator and the other on the ground making wild leaps in logic. See? I am making all of these moves purposefully and it will work out fine. There I go, glowering over my shoulder at a man looking over his shoulder! See where my eyebrows meet? That’s a permanent mark now.
That is to say, it’s the season of doing everything and nothing and smashing stink bugs on the office window and trying to remember all the tasks and appointments because if I write it all down I will asphyxiate under the weight of the 12pt font. The roof is leaking and there have been many phone calls with still no roofer, the toddler has a tick in her head and needs prophylactic antibiotics and this will require two trips to the pharmacy, three online portal messages, and three phone calls to the pharmacy. There’s an exam to study for, 56 assignments to grade, a paper to write, dinner to make.
Send up some thoughts for us this week, because my sweet, last baby is moving from Toddler’s to Preschool and I dissolve into tears every time I think about it. My entire strategy has been to not think about it. It seems silly but she is so grown already, brilliant and wild. Her Toddler’s teacher was there almost two decades ago when my oldest was there, and leaving her feels like I’m leaving home for the first time. We have been seen, fully, and tended to so well over this last year, and we are so much richer for it.