September 8th, 2014
“…the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light.” — Mrs. Dalloway
I make lunches at night now. For six years I’ve resisted spreading peanut butter on bread, pouring goldfish into bags, cutting fruit into bite-sized pieces every evening. I know why.
It feels a bit like torture.
I stand at the kitchen counter and I think about all that is ahead. I think of all the to-dos that tomorrow will bring. The unfinished papers waiting to be graded. The inevitable morning struggle over clothing or shoes. The meetings I’ll have to squeeze in. The groceries I need to buy.
Making lunches at night is supposed to make me feel more prepared. It’s supposed to earn me time and peace the next morning. It’s supposed to make me feel like a responsible adult.
But instead it just makes me anxious and a little bit mad.
Every night lately I wonder why I just don’t go back to the old way. To making them in the morning in a bit of a rush, to accidentally getting jelly on my shirt and having to hurry up and change. To sitting the night before with a blank screen and words and thinking instead about the good that’s passed and not ahead to all the rest that sits undone.
For some reason I keep making the lunches at night.
We are watching My So Called Life. I just watched this one yesterday, I think every time we press play on a new episode. But I didn’t; I watched it 20 years ago. It just seems like yesterday.
Yesterday I was Angela Chase, dying my hair a deep shade or red/purple to stand out and fit in and find myself. Or, at least I tried to – the color never really took. Yesterday I was worried about what I wore and who was looking at me and what if the English teacher asked me a question in class and I didn’t answer it well?
Today I am the English teacher. My hair is my natural color and my natural frizz and maybe one day I’ll have time or care to do something to it again, but today is not that day.
I watch Angela Chase and Brian Krakow and Jordan Catalano and I remember being them and there and slamming my locker and feeling awkward and writing in my diary instead of on a blog.
It’s different now, watching it from a totally new world. I am Angela searching for myself and I am her mother worrying about her and I am the teacher wondering how best to find Ricky help.
I get in the car in the afternoon and it is so hot I feel like my skin might start to melt. The air blowing out of the vents seems like a cruel joke until finally it decides to live up to its name and air condition the space. I wait in the line of cars to leave my parking lot and feel the sweat start to drip. I wonder when the first days of relief will come.
I walk into Miles class to pick him up and he’s always busy. He’s playing with puzzles or blocks or sitting and listening to a book. He’s happy. And as soon as he sees me, he leaves his spot to run at top speed into my arms and hug me with a might I never imagined would feel like the biggest gift of every day. He kisses me on the cheek and reaches up to hold my hand as soon as I put him down.
We walk hand in hand to the hot car and I buckle him in, careful not to let the hot metal of the buckles touch his skin in the process. He talks at me as I buckle, as I close the door and walk around to my side. He’s full of words these days. And with each one he speaks I start to feel lighter.
He tells me he loves me. He laughs at himself as he relays stories of he and his friends being silly. He screams with joy as we pass school buses and city buses and his favorite – the fast bus.
The fast bus is never moving. Ken or I told him a few weeks ago about the new city bus that stops near our house – it is faster and can change the lights. They were running so many buses by our street, training the drivers on the new routes. We must have talked about it and he listens to everything and soaks it in.
“THE FAST BUS!” he screams with pure joy.
“There it is.” I say.
“But it’s not going bery fast,” he points out.
“It’s picking up people,” I say.
“And then it will go fast. It’s learning how. Buses need to learn too.”