Friday I mean to run errands, to return a book to the library, get toner at Rite Aid so I can print the flyer for our writing circle, buy groceries at Ralph’s. But after my morning chores are done I end up spending the long afternoon reading in the courtyard garden instead. It is hot, warm even under the umbrella. My goldfinch have returned in force, chattering at the tube feeders and from their perches in our neighbor’s tree. I have a full belly, too, and find myself nodding off a time or two over my book. I think about taking a nap, but I don’t want to miss any part of the day, this second in my four-day holiday. My body is heavy and relaxed, just this side of sleep, when I am startled awake. I’ve forgotten to check the login tickets! I picture the support page in my mind, people waiting for help, untended. The thought runs straight through me, an electric shock, my body stiff with panic. I had lost myself in rest. I’d forgotten to do my job. I remember right away, of course. I am having a day off. But the thoroughness with which the shock infused me lingers. I shake my head and mutter to myself. I am surprised and annoyed by my reaction to this deeper rest. I push the thought of work away, resettle myself in the chair, go back to my book. But I notice the feeling that creeps in over the ferocity of that reflexive response. It weaves itself between the pages of my book, this small sadness, as I sink back into the story. Even so, I wrap my pleasure around me like a soft sheet on a summer day and let the sounds of the birds and the afternoon sunlight lull me once again.
Sunday morning my fingers do their weird, anxious thing. I am lying in bed. I’ve been dozing off and on, aware once at dawn and then again at seven, but I don’t surface until late, maybe eight o’clock. I stretch, the epitome of luxurious awakening, and my arms are over my head when I hear this odd sound and stop to listen. It is my fingers moving, making little scratchy sounds, fingernails against the sheet. This is my fourth weekend off, I calculate, make a point of emphasizing to myself. And so my fourth cherished Sunday when I can sink into the quiet of my neighborhood later in the day. I sit on the patio and let myself write. But it is not yet enough, not yet perhaps a long enough string of days, not enough to stop the restless circling of my fingertips. I am too quick to run out of patience with the cats, too quick to snap or yell at them. I do it with humans, too, but I am more subtle. I am not wild and loud like when I was young–sometimes people don’t even know I’ve snapped at them by my reckoning. But I feel it inside, this stingy tightness, this prickly impatience that has no true base in the moment but screams instead to that other angry person years ago who stole things from me. I am a person wound too tight. It is not the first time. Some days I am afraid I won’t know how to fix it, won’t find a way to be less anxious again. It wasn’t that long ago, I think.
Even as I write a part of me knows I will figure it out. I will find a way back to who I want to be. I wrote about this before and laughed when I read it later. I guess it was a kind of Freudian slip. “I want to find my way back,” I wrote, “to the woman who would drink her first cup of teach in the courtyard garden,” and let herself lean back in the chair, warm ceramic cup cradled in both hands, solid heat nestled against her sternum. The first cup of “teach,” indeed. How funny. I want to find my way back to the woman who knew how to stop like that every morning, the woman that knew how to drop down into her peace. I don’t want to be the woman whose mind in wrestling with work, teaching or otherwise, thoughts that assault that first hour of the day. Worse yet, sometimes I am the person whose first cup of tea sits forgotten beside me on the table, cold because I am too focused on the computer in my lap. I want to find my way back to that other woman who knew how to stop or at least pause every morning. And then a kinder voice emerges–a small miracle–and I remind myself I have already come a long way. “Voy a llegar,” I say, and I laugh in the now dark. I am going to arrive.
New moon day, and I want to return to practicing my writer’s craft. I’ve missed it, this relationship with myself, with my imagined readers, known and unknown. I’ve missed the weight of my notebook propped against my thighs, the whisper of my hand inching across it, squiggly lines that harbor meaning etched in black upon the soft white page. I hope I am really returning to my writing now, but I tell myself even only an entry or two for my blog will be a victory. Still, I am hoping for more. I want it back, a part of my days. I can’t say exactly what has kept me away. It is not lack of time, I know, though for a few months I did have less of it. More, if I would guess, it is an unwillingness to meet myself here. But I miss my writer self. And I don’t want this to be my reason, to not want to look or to dig, to refuse to unearth. I want to be willing to scrape away the layers of dirt again, pour water like rain, the hidden made clean, resurrected. I want to thrive again among the new-washed relics.