Sunday, November 1, 2015
I am not a fan of airing dirty laundry. I know this sounds strange given that, 1. It’s me talking, and 2. As a writer, it is inherent to the job. You have no idea, however, the degree to which I censor my words. I have learned to strip myself to my skivvies without ever showing skin, to share very personal stuff in a very general way, to make you cry and feel and yearn without ever giving you a clue as to the specifics of why you might be doing that. But, oh well, here we go.
What’s it like to be fifty-two, married for twenty-nine years, and decide one day that you are done, that you are deserving of something just a little bit more? It sucks, and it’s freeing, all at the same time. It sucks because I am now the villain. At least, this is how I see myself. My husband is a good man. He has been a great provider and is an incredible dad. He is a respected professional in his chosen field. It sucks because “What’s the matter with me? We have a good life, a good home, great kids, and plenty of memories of wonderful times. We take beautiful vacations and, to the outside world, are that couple that other couples wish they could be.” I would caution, however, that all is never exactly as it seems. The Mad Hatter, Alice, tea parties, the rabbit hole, and all. Perspective is an amazing thing. So, yeah. It sucks. On the other hand, it is more freeing than anything I have ever done. It is like breaking out of a cage, like giving myself permission, finally, to honor who I am. It is like throwing off every mask I have ever worn…obedient daughter, submissive wife, good mother, liked professor, and faithful, uplifting friend. Pleaser. That’s who I have been. The good girl. Never to offend. Never to have a need or a mind of her own.
Only I do have needs. I need to be enjoyed. I need to be loved. I need to be the treasure of someone’s fucking day.
I also need a job.
Can I tell you how weird it is to hear my friends talk of retirement while I sit reassessing my skills? I am a little afraid. I could go back to teaching, I know, but I am not certain that’s what I want. The artsy side of my brain has been quiet for far too long. I feel it wants badly to have its way with me. I have to confess I might be looking forward to that. It’s a strange feeling to an academic, a person who insists on citing everything and quantifying the rest. I want to get my hands dirty, fling some words onto page, color, end the day with paint smudges on my face. I need that. But, Lord help me if I get some ache or pain while waiting for an agent to show up at my door. I cannot pay a doctor in unpublished words. I have secretly entertained the thought of working at Starbucks a few hours a week just to call myself insured. God knows I know the drinks by heart. And I've always looked sexy in that shade of green.
So, this is my story. Out on the line. If you run into me on the street, you will meet with a practiced smile, a well-rehearsed look. You will see one who seems to have her life just exactly where it should be. Take a minute, if you would, though, to understand what it might be like to walk through minefields in a foreign land without protection, cover, or map. Then sit with me, if you would, and pass me that block of clay.