Freedom of choice
I could write to you about small things, socks and underwear and handkerchiefs, the laundry ephemera that dogged my afternoon. There were the dishtowels I pinned to a drying rack, twisting in the blue sky breeze. My other laundry baked on another rack that stood on the dusty pink-tinged concrete of our front yard, the sun pulling the dampness out of my shirts, out of the soil, out of my freshly-washed hair. My afternoon was made smaller by the absence of the boy, who spent it getting his hair cut and enjoying Daddy’s Office Camp. There was a time when I would have thought being alone, without him, without anybody, would enlarge my existence, would add instead of subtract. I now know that isn’t true.
I use every chance I can to study, to keep up. In a couple of weeks, the deadlines start to hit, midterms, papers, presentations, so I am trying to keep in step, maybe even a few steps ahead. Since three of my classes are jammed together, one on Wednesday evening, two on Thursday, by Friday my brain feels jammed, too, and if I follow the classes with studying (which I have to), with the endless go round of my brain, too long on one subject, not enough oomph for the next, well, I get to a position of zero brain space.
I am writing this in the form of a blog post, but I am still on a blogging break, an academically imposed break that I’ve defined very narrowly. Over the last two weeks, I edited the website and reloaded some of the old posts, though most of my hair shirt oeuvre is gone, saved in my personal offline archive. It is interesting – and sobering – to see how I’ve presented myself over time, how I present myself still, as though what I feel and want is too much and what I can do competently is too little. Fuck that. And that’s all I’ll say on the subject. Except there is an example of it right in this paragraph: hair shirt oeuvre? Is that what I think of my work? Yes, a lot of self-flagellation a lot of, well, rumination, has gone on in this space, but most of it I had to experience to get here. I stand tall on my work, on my process, but I don’t want it to define me, either. So it’s gone from public view, at least as much as I could remove it in a virtual land where things never quite die.
I’m at ends as far as this blog is concerned. I don’t know who I am writing for or why, or maybe the reasons I had for writing are less important now, but still the pattern wants to keep on going. The nothing itself nothings (so Heidegger told us) and the ruminating itself ruminates, like some sort of self-propelled sleeve-tugging angst machine. I have some writing habits to break, some smoky desires to finally blow away. It’s time for a reinvention. So much of writing in this space was about being heard, about showing my ugly insecure bits and having them be accepted or at the very least aired out. It was great. It is great. But as a writing model it doesn’t work for me anymore. It makes me crazy. It becomes compulsive. It doesn’t represent the truth.
But what does work? I’ve thought of this space as conversational, even when the conversation was mainly one-sided. There are a few readers who participate, either here or on Facebook. Grace, Anne, Jim, John, rcb, Holly, Jennifer, Angela and Heather come to mind. Some of you are silent regulars and that’s fine, too.
Silence is fine. Underrated. If you want to comment, if the words come, great. If there are no words, that’s ok, too. You are here and that is good enough. I’ve almost stopped commenting on blogs myself, though there are some exceptions, and I know that in order to continue the conversation, to bring in new blood, I have to reach out, a task I don’t have the time or energy for right now.
To follow through on my pledge, I have to sit on this. I have to not post until Sunday (I started this on Friday, March 1 and as of Saturday evening, have shaved off another day from my deadline, crossing Monday off early: Sunday it is!). It’s better that way, right? If I have to sit on it, its importance will become more apparent over the next few days. It will settle within me. Maybe you’ll never read a word of it. But here you are.
I took the small things and made them square. I married sock to matching sock, sorted the shirts, the underwear. I opened drawers and deposited folded items woven out of cotton, out of linen, out of blends of the natural and manmade. I did the woman’s work and knew, as my stockinged feet felt the crunch of sand grains on top of hardwood, the physical manifestation of boy energy, that I was tired of minutiae, tired of it being my job and that I had a choice in the matter.
And I was going to use my freedom of choice.
Image by Chiot’s Run.