The relentless forward motion of life drags me along like my hair is caught in the chain and I have no choice in the matter. How can it be June? How can another school year end? When I was a child the school years lasted at least four times as long as a current school year. Or that’s how it seemed to me. Fourth grade? FORever! (Mr. Steiner made me sit by Julie M. and I resented for some reason that escapes me now. Also? My little circle of friends were vicious, constantly aligning and realigning into circles that excluded someone.)
I’m already thinking ahead to fall when my youngest child will be in first grade. I know it’s just June, but September will be here in a blinding flash. And I know I’m supposed to live in the moment, focus on the little things, relish the ordinary events of every day life but the truth is that if I step into the river of summer thinking it’s only ankle deep I will be swept away by its furious current because that is how summer is. A rushing raging torrent that will rip through our lives, leaving us breathless and shocked that we’ve been carried so far downstream so fast.
My husband is turning forty-eight this year, “almost fifty” he likes to say. He’s been reassessing his life and wearing gold chains and buying a red Corvette . . . okay, not really. He’s just been thinking about his life and how much he has left to live before crawling into a coffin and dying. It’s strange to think about the sands of time running through the hourglass, but they are, even if we don’t think about it. My dad, for instance, was already dead by age 48. That’s just how it goes sometimes.
Maybe that’s why my husband says “yes” when our daughter asks him if he’ll play card games. I’m likely to put her off, say, “how about tomorrow?” but he just says “yes.” The day will come soon enough when she stops asking. I know this because the day has already come when she has stopped asking us to rock her before we put her to bed. I only realized that yesterday.
I wonder what I really want to do with my time. I used to feel like I had an unlimited supply, a bag with a black hole from which I could withdraw as much as I needed, but as it turns out, time is in short supply. Too many days I feel like I’m trudging from morning to midnight, barely holding together the fraying edges of my life. Am I too lazy? Or am I too busy? Am I both lazy and busy? I don’t want to be either.
Am I accomplishing anything that really matters? Or is my life like my front yard, an ivy-covered mess that needs constant upkeep and never seems to look any different? If we stopped trimming, eventually ivy would cover our whole house, swallow it whole. If I stopped doing what I do, what would happen? Other than the fact that everyone would starve to death while wearing dirty underpants?
I dream about a vacant day, a vacant week without relentless demands raising their hands and insisting on being called upon. I’d like to stop thinking about the dripping showerhead and the worn out freezer gasket and all the digital photographs that should be sent to Costco to be turned into prints. I’d like to stop fretting about my yard, my ghastly lawn (if you could call it that), the overgrown hedges in the yard and the snow-damaged back fence that leans precariously into the neighbor’s back yard. (Why, tell me why fences are so expensive?)
The good news is that the current of my life will drag me along, willing or not, into the future which includes an appraiser coming by tomorrow night, a T-ball practice on Thursdays night, a kindergarten field trip to Seattle on Friday, a T-ball game on Saturday at 12:30 (thus encroaching on the entire day) and my novel which demands to be written despite my increasing despair over my prose. (Perhaps one should not read Barbara Kingsolver while writing a novel of one’s own.) All of this happens while I balance working forty hours a week which is like balancing a chair on my chin while I ride a unicycle. I’m fancy. Also, apt to fall.
Before we know it, the daisies in the front yard will bloom, Fourth of July will arrive, we’ll be at the ocean, it’ll be time for dentist appointments and vaccinations for sixth grade and football practice will begin to consume our days. I just hope that I find time to prune the overgrown lilac bush in the front yard so that the blooms next year will be bountiful. Circle around, circle around, try not to get dizzy and hold on for dear life.