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.