What do you write when you’re sitting outside your kid’s yoga class, tears streaming down your face because of an impossibly perfect performance by a 15-year-old kid you don’t even know, about a family and a life you can relate to and he’s real and after watching his performance on your smart phone (and really, if you haven’t watched it yet – you should), you reach the last page in your journal twenty minutes before class ends, and you’re out of tissue and toothpaste at home?
What if you’ve just moved houses, you have family in and out of your new guest room day after day after day and you love them but your closet is right where they sleep and when they leave, your bedroom floors are immediately sanded and polished with semi-toxic chemicals, your home office is off-limits, you’re behind the 8-ball at work with a million tiny little pieces of other people’s projects which, when you add them all up, come to pretty much nothing that’s yours, nothing you can point to and say “I did this” or even “We did this” because most of what you’re doing is invisible? If you’re doing anything at all.
What if all you have sometimes is a blog?
What if your child takes a hiatus from confiding in you (because mommy is a blogger? or because eight is suddenly the new pre-teen? or maybe because you’re sending off “that vibe” and you can’t take a rest to get past it?), and your dogs – who are usually quite entertaining and worthy of a laugh or guffaw – are reduced to lying down and licking and standing and barking and lying down and licking again day after day because they’re confined temporarily to the basement and they’re bored and it’s not funny to you – it’s annoying – and your favorite pen – recently re-discovered inside some long-forgotten drawer where it had been lovingly saved and packed into a cardboard box weeks ago – has now run out of ink? It doesn’t even matter what you write then because you can’t. Right?
What do you write when you’ve lost your footing? When your time for quiet reflection is gone? When you no longer walk your kid to school, stopping now and again to really smell the flowers? When you rarely relax on the new train to work, pressed up between so many bodies you can’t even hold a book properly because your arms don’t bend? When lunch breaks dissolve daily with unexpected requests, and half your workday is full of people behind you and over your shoulder training other people to do things that don’t really make sense to you, and you wish they would speak more clearly even as you’re trying desperately not to listen? When mornings before work are full of whining and the dragging of feet? When evenings after work are full of homework and dinner and nagging and rushing towards bed and when, shortly before the sun rises, it starts all over again?
When you make so many mistakes every day that you’ve given up trying to make it right with the people in your life who feel wronged?
What do you write on days like these?
We drove past five crossing guards Wednesday morning on the way to my daughter’s school, each one wearing a bright orange “Look at me!” vest, stepping boldly into the street with a stop sign held high in the air. All the cars stopped. All the children hopped, giggled, ambled and dashed across each street. Every straggler, without fail, was ushered across with a warm smile, a hand at the back, a joke, some gentle flash of attention. Each stop sign was lowered as the light changed; each crossing guard returned calmly to his or her post. In each neighborhood, near each school, traffic resumed. Children waited again, more children gathering at the corners.
Can you imagine a crossing guard now in a bright orange vest helping you — at your age — cross the busy street? Helping us all to gather at the red-light corners. Ushering us across. Helping us to see when it’s safe. Making the cars wait.
Can you imagine?