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Today is a blank page, a clean slate. Somehow even this little text box looks different—it seems to hold such promise for the coming 365 days. I love how I feel when I wake up on the first day of a new year.
is probably the best word to describe it. I feel like I can let the past go and be grateful for the promise of new chances and new opportunities to make this year different. Like most, I have several goals for 2014. Mainly, I intend to make it my most creative year yet.
I turned to him. "Tell me about Delia," I said. I looked down and saw that he'd loosened his hold on the gun. Should I reach for it?
The old man looked at me with his watery eyes. He signed. "Delia was special. Beautiful. I met her in Nashville, and I knew I wanted to marry her. But she was mean. So mean. And one day I couldn't take it anymore. I killed her. I had to. I just loved her so much."
Nothing he was saying made sense. He killed her because he loved her?
"I don't understand," I said quietly. He loosened his grip on the gun even more. I don't think he intended to use it. "Will you tell me more?"
The old man's eyes looked into the past. "She didn't listen to me. Oh, at first she did, but then she got to becoming like everyone else, all those people who've ignored me or worse, called me stupid and idiot." He focused on me. "Can't you see? Can't you understand?"
I didn't know what to say. I
understand—not at all. What could I do?
Last night I organized my art journaling supplies. I guess that goes with one of the resolutions I made, which is to get things in order and reduce clutter in this house. It seems, though, that my new obsession with art just means that I'm bringing more stuff in. In fact, I bought new supplies just yesterday. But this morning I'm thinking—why? Why do we follow passions if those passions don't go anywhere? I don't anticipate my journaling being more than a hobby, so is it even worth it to pursue it? Am I wasting my time? Hard questions...
After yesterday's words, it shouldn't surprise me that my art journaling last night wasn't as fruitful as I'd hoped. I did some work, but I couldn't finish the page, and I woke up today still agonizing over it. The "Why do this?" questions are back, but I'm determined to press on. Last night I dreamed about sketchbooks—how I'd found some and asked my friend if he thought they would be good for art journaling. (In "real" life, my friend is a poet, not an artist, so how would he know, really?) But he said yes, and I found hope.
How do I condense thirty-plus years of things and memories into a handful of boxes? I guess for some people, that would be easy. My stepson, for example, is twenty-five, and he has no trouble throwing everything away. He told me once that he's not sentimental at all, and he laughed. I'm more emotional, I guess, and it's harder for me to toss everything away. I don't laugh. I'm still decluttering the basement. So far, I've gotten rid of thirty or forty boxes of things from my past. As the clutter dwindles, letting go of things gets harder.
We talked about the weather (cold); our lunch (sandwiches: ham and cheese on rye); the way the sunlight shone through the ice on the kitchen window (like lace); what we planned to have for dinner (takeout: Chinese); how the minister's hair looked in church last Sunday (wispy and filled with static from his ratty black winter hat); the time we needed to get up the next morning (6:30); the paint on the bathroom wall (apricot); the next-door neighbor's dog (small and cranky); and the Bible on the coffee table (dusty and unopened). What we didn't speak of: (us).
We didn't speak of us. We didn't speak of the time before things changed; we never brought up the moment that we felt the shift in our lives—
What was it?
We hid it away, didn't we?
No, instead of
, we spoke about life things, mundane things:
Does the car need gas? What about an oil change? Is the water heater set too low? Don't forget to buy cat food tomorrow when you go to Wegmans. Have you sent the hospital registration forms in yet?
We need to talk.
Is it too early in the year for me to feel good about my progress with my 2014 goals? Maybe. So far, though, they're going well, and I've made progress on each of them (some more than others, of course). Okay, so that's my pat on the back...
Things I've observed this week: marshmallows stuck to the bottom of mug that once contained hot chocolate are not good; eleven degrees can feel like a heat wave; too much togetherness is not a good thing; never underestimate the value of me-time; when you crave chocolate, eat it—always.
Today was scary. I fell in the kitchen—slipped on some melted snow near the door—and I landed (I think) on my belly. It all happened so fast that I can't be sure, exactly. My immediate thoughts went to the baby—I'm 27 weeks pregnant—and I jumped up quickly, terrified. My left leg was hurting; it had gotten slammed in the screen door when I went down—but I didn't care about that. My doctor sent me to get an ultrasound, and thankfully, everything was fine. The baby was moving and seemed happy. I'm so relieved and grateful.
My stomach is in knots. We had another disagreement yesterday, and there's a lot of tension here. You know how many people can agree to disagree? He can't. If you don't see things his way, he holds a grudge. He never forgives, and he never forgets. Last night's incident will be just one more in a long line of things he "hates" (his word) about me; it'll be just one more of what he sees as my many failures. I'm sad and yes, a little angry, too, that he won't even try to look at things in a different way.
I'm having those "why do I bother?" feelings again. Everything seems so pointless—writing, art journaling, even reading... Nothing seems to matter. I completed a page in my art journal this morning after an entire week of working on it, and although I thought I'd feel elated—or at least somewhat happy—I don't. I feel blah. Who really cares, and what was the point of spending all that time working on something that no one will see or care about? It's discouraging. Is creativity really worth the effort? Then again, some days I think I'd burst without the outlet...
I have one week to clean out an entire room. I guess that sounds doable, but this is mainly a storage room, so I'm sure the task will prove to be challenging. I'll get it done.
I feel like I need balance in my life, especially right now as we get ready for the new baby to arrive. Is it selfish to want more me-time? I spend most of my day cleaning and cooking and organizing and taking care of others... I don't feel that it's wrong to want time for myself, but sometimes I feel guilty...
I didn't see the way you looked at me when I left that day for the last time. "I'll see you again," we said, but I know that neither of us believed. (Idle promises.) We were over before we began, weren't we? Futile. Doomed. Nothing could have saved us. Still, I clung to a small shred of hope that we
someday be together again. You were my safety net, and I yours. The change was scary, but knowing you were there (waiting) made it easier to say goodbye to us, to the life we shared, to everything.
It was scary to step out on that limb—to move across the country, to start a new, very different, life with someone I just barely knew. But the ironic thing is, as scared as I was to move, I made the decision out of fear: fear of being alone, fear of not knowing how to live without someone else beside me. And he was the one who was there. Would it have been a different person had I not met him that night online? I think so. I was alone and afraid; I needed someone. He was the one.
I think about paths a lot—the roads we choose in life, the places they lead... I play the "what if" game: What if I'd decided not to take that job? What if I'd stayed away from that Web site when I was feeling so alone and vulnerable? What if I'd just done what was expected of me instead of thinking I had to have more? Sometimes it's hard to think about these things—too much guilt, too much regret. I
happy about where I am now. I just question the path I took to get here.
My daughter had a pediatrician appointment yesterday. We lucked out with that doctor; she's kind, genuinely caring, and really takes her time with each patient. I got to talking to her about all the stress in my life right now: my husband's upcoming cancer surgery, the pregnancy, worries about my kids... I told her how most nights I can't sleep, so I lie in bed worrying about these things. She told me to stop that and think about them in the morning, which is, of course, easier said than done, but I found her advice (and her tone) comforting anyway.
Sometimes I can't read you. Do you mean the words you say, or are you simply caught up in the moment, spouting lovely sentences that have no true meaning in "real" life? I wish I knew. You know that I want to believe you; I want you to mean what you say; I want to believe I'm as special as you say I am during the lovely times we spend together, those times when our legs and hearts tangle and nothing else seems quite as important as the moment. So can I trust you? Because believe me, I want to.
I've heard artists talk about creating art and the high they experience when they complete a piece, and although I would never call myself an artist, I think I understand now exactly what they mean. I've been art journaling—combining my writing with art (things I've painted, cut-out images, odd bits of ephemera...), and last night I completed another page in my art book. It's not perfect by any means, but it expresses who I am, what I was feeling then. It's a high to have captured that moment in time, to have caught it and given it immortality.
I try to come here early each morning before my day has really begun: before the kids get up, before I've eaten, before I've done all the get-ready-for-the day things one has to do. Writing 100 words, no matter what they're about, clears my mind, and I always feel better prepared for the day ahead. I suppose one could call this writing a brain dump of sorts, although I'm not crazy about the term. Some days I have no idea what to write, so I just let the words come as they will. They surprise me sometimes.
...and sometimes, it seems like I have no words. My brain is a jumble of too many thoughts, and I can't focus enough to write about any one of them and instead I feel I have to resort to making a list of the mundane things I've done so far, but lists like that bore me (and everyone). Yet...I'm angry with my husband, frustrated with myself, overwhelmed by all I have to do, confused about which next step is the one I need to take, tired because I slept for only three hours last night (so mundane). How's that?
After all these years (and there have been a lot of them), I
have my own computer, a laptop my husband bought me for Christmas. Now I no longer have to worry about people reading my "stuff"—my poetry, my novels, the scribbles that are for no one's eyes but my own. So I should feel free, right? I should, but I don't. Instead, I feel stifled, uncreative. Stuck. I haven't been able to write anything "good" since early last month. It's like I'm frozen, like that computer caused a massive writer's block I can't crack. Ironic...
Every day I look forward to art journaling, which I can never do until my kids are in bed. It's nice to have something to feel excited about, especially when so many days seem like do-overs of the day that came before (and the one that came before that and the one before that...). I look forward to writing, too, but as I mentioned yesterday, I feel stifled; I can't write (or at least I'm unable to write anything I like). We're always our own worst critics, aren't we? It's hard, but I guess I find it motivating, too.
You turn and walk away. You don't look back; you don't slump your shoulders or look at the ground. Your head faced forward; you hold your shoulders high. How do you think that makes me feel? Can you guess? Do you care? Why isn't this ending affecting you the way it is affecting me? I keep watching you not watching me as you walk away into the proverbial sunset, the wind ruffling your hair, your hands stuffed into your pockets, your back straight. And as I watch, I question everything I know—everything I ever knew—about us. About you.
After the end—after that moment when, in my mind, you were only a tiny speck on the horizon—I turned toward my car, wanting to get away, wanting to drive as far as I could, wanting to drive into the ocean and feel the water engulf me, take me away from this pain that seemed to have no end, but instead I walked past my car, past all the cars there covered with leaves and thin layers of early fall frost, and I followed the path to the woods, picking up speed until I was the one running away.
I wish it were as easy as running away, but problems and worries never stay behind. No, they follow; they creep along by several paces. Unlike us, they never get tired. They never have to stop and rest. They catch up with us. Always.
Running didn't make me forget him. I was only racing myself as I ran through the woods that day, branches scratching my arms and slapping against my face. I emerged on the other side (there is always another side), my knees bloody from stumbling, and the sun was there, rising as it always does.
...and the sun will rise again. It always does, although it feels in the moment that it never will, that the world will remain dark and cold—the way rejection and loss make the soul feel. And yet we never seem to realize this when we need to, when our worlds are crashing down around us, when everything seems hopeless and the future is without possibility. Then one night we'll go to bed feeling dejected and afraid, only to wake the next morning to sun shining through our windows. It happens just like that—so quickly (and yet so slowly).
My husband is having surgery tomorrow. I'm nervous—anxious, I guess. The worst part is that I don't know if I'll be able to visit him in the hospital. Right now, the one where he'll have the surgery is banning kids; the patients' risk of flu is just too great. I don't have anyone here to watch mine, so I might have to rely on phone calls to the nurse's desk to find out how my husband is doing. That's not the same... I think that deep down, my husband is nervous, too. It would help to have me there.
My husband will be having his three-to-four-hour cancer surgery in less than an hour. I wish I were there with him. He insisted on going by himself, though. I would have had to keep my daughter home from preschool, and he was adamant that she (and my son) have as normal a day as possible. We'll go to see him this afternoon if we can. The hospital recently had a restriction on visitors under twelve, and I'm not sure if it's still in effect. It's just weird being here while he's there. The day feels different—strange.
My husband's surgery went well, and he'll be coming home around noon today. I'm grateful. Now we're in for a month-long recuperation period. I'm sure we'll get tired of each other in a short time. I truly believe that there is such a thing as "too much togetherness." My parents and a friend are concerned that I'll have too much on my plate, what with the pregnancy and caring for two young children, in addition to my husband. It'll be difficult, I'm sure, but really, what can we do? You just take things as they come, and you deal.
I hate it when people invite themselves over. I don't care who they are; it's rude to presume that you can just inform someone that you'll be stopping by. Case in point: the minister. He called this morning to say he'll be here at 11:30. Never mind that I told him my husband is resting, that he
to rest since he's just starting to recuperate from surgery. This just makes my blood boil. On top of everything, now I need to speed-clean the house. It's been a rough week, and I'm behind. I hate this.
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