In my youth I NEVER worried about who I might be or what I planned to do with my life. The answer shown like a beacon. Grow up. Leave my father’s house. Become a bride. Move into someone else’s house. Have children. Make sure they were happy and not afraid. Try to make sure they remember their childhood as carefree and loving and just plain fun.
That picture of the perfect family grew strong in me. It settled in my mind, I recognized it. Knew the edges of the scene, imagined colors and dialogue and kisses and hugs. And almost all of it came true. I created it in my mind first. Then I set out to make sure it really happened in real time. Of course this did involve a certain amount of manipulation and intrigue. And sometimes a stark reality would fall and hit me on the head with real force. Most of the time I could avoid seeing the parts I did not like. I ignored what did not fit the photo in my mind. And that amounted to quite a lot. Oblivious does not quite describe me, yet it seemed as if those parts were “greyed out” like words on a computer screen tool bar that cannot be “clicked upon”. They were there but not to be entered. Intrusions included extra people for dinner, a trip to the emergency room for one of us or the children, a litter of puppies, or a possible change in staff. I could handle any of that with ease.
What it did not include was introspection and inner work which might entail turning over a few rocks to look underneath. MY clothes were important, my shoes were lovely and often uncomfortable. My help at home was constant. Our nanny, Lucy never took a day off except for every 6 weeks when she would go home to Charlottesville, for a long weekend. SO I was covered, and never had to take full time care of my children. At night I was free to go out with my husband and never had to skip a party because the baby sitter did not show up. I felt 100% entitled to this freedom. It was deserved and expected. And what others might be going through, never really applied to me. I missed it, completely that we were not the norm.
But something felt wrong, or unfinished, or ragged underneath, like a tiny stone in my shoe. It was often not apparent, and even when it was it was so off to the side, I rarely confronted anything unpleasant At moments when I least expected it the things that were wrong and felt horrible struck and shattered my precious “picture”. So I went to great lengths to repair it and even greater lengths to hide the damage. That was not cool. I was not cool. I was a quivering bowl of jelly inside.
Now, I am waaaay cool. Even though heavier than I have ever been, and certainly older than I have ever been, I feel cool. And that is because I am a writer and author. And I am going to pursue this avocation with all that I have. There is no other thing taking up my time. Mother though constantly there, is not really an onerous burden because there is so much help with her care. Much of my job is keeping the roof from leaking the, walls from flaking and falling in, the pipes from freezing and all the other little items necessary to keeping this place solid for the next few years.
So I do all that, and I write. I entertain mother, and I write. I try to keep the staff healthy and happy and I write. And myself, I try to keep me healthy too. and I write. The writing part has become a constant. Before I only wrote now and then. When the mood struck me I would write feverishly, but often it did not amount to more than a few words, 500 being a lot of words for me. Now I realize that 500 words is just a warm up. Like the first quarter mile of a 3 mile work out. But this new habit of daily writing is most satisfying because it has given me a body of work. It is real. I can look it up. And if I were more organized I would figure out a way to find it again.
That would be the coolest me. An organized me.