It's hot out. The white Christmas lights framing my bedroom window are on, the ceiling fan is rotating, and I'm hardly dressed. Quiet. I always want to carry my hot tea to bed, but it only ends up sitting on my nightstand table, cooling in the night as I have no comfortable way of sitting up in bed so I can drink it while I read or write. I need it tonight, though. My throat is sore, the gift my body has given back to me after I've abused it all weekend. "Oh yeah? Well TAKE THIS, THEN!" I could practically hear it yell at me this morning. Too little sleep, too much alcohol, the occasional cigarette, and here we are. I want a hot bath to read in, I want to stay up and write, I want to lift weights and dance to Top 40 hits, I want to watch "The L Word" and sigh about wanting to move to West Hollywood so I can hang out with a bunch of cool, attractive, successful lesbians. Instead I've taken to my bed to listen to Teagan and Sara before I put my headphones in and go to sleep. I have to rest, so I can get up tomorrow and do good work, I tell myself. I have to rest, so I'll have enough energy to create my new life tomorrow.
"My cat taught me how to love," an old friend told me a couple of weeks ago. Pooks, the new perfect match, has taken the easy rhythm of sleeping on my bed when she wants to be alone, and meowing and batting at my legs and/or face with her paws when she wants attention. Hearing those words in my head, I try to give it to her when she asks for it. Even when I'm writing. Even when I'm busy doing something else. She'll sit up and meow at me, her golden green eyes following me around the room, and I'll walk up to her and gather her soft black body up into my arms. Yesterday she was curled up, sleeping, in the most perfectly adorable way, and I actually stopped in the middle of my dressing just to stare at her. I didn't really think that I needed to be taught how to love, but this is different. This is caretaking. This is being responsible for something - someone - else. This is not being able to just walk away when things get annoying.
I feel old sometimes, and I wonder if I'm ever going to have a family. Not just a boyfriend, not just a husband, but...a family. This morning Pooks and I woke up in a tumble of white sheets and sunshine, and as I padded out to the kitchen to fill her dish with food, I wondered if it is always going to be like this. "It is not good for man to be alone." The words from Genesis 2:18 always float through my mind as a counterpoint whenever I catch myself sifting through these kinds of thoughts. And I want it. It's taken me a long time to get to that point. To even think about it, again. And I'm happy about that. That I want it. If you asked me if I was ready for it, though, I honestly don't know what I would say to you. Yes, I want it, I want to be ready. But there are things to do.
Pooks would look good in Oregon, I think, as I pet her before I leave for work. She'd fit in well in Bayfield, Wisconsin. She might find better mice in Washington. And I have a whole book I need to finish before I can even think of anything else. That's it, then, isn't it, I told myself the other day. All of these things I've been holding on to. I had to keep them, so I could make something of worth out of them, someday, now. It's almost done. Just a couple more endings, just a couple more craftings, and I can let it go. I can hold it in my hands and say that this is the way I used to be, and here...you can have it, because I don't need these scenes anymore.
Seven years. My friend Ashley posted on her Facebook that it was her seventh year wedding anniversary today, and I gasped and almost dropped my coffee cup. We were there, I remembered. We were at her wedding. And what had started out as a fun and happy weekend of hotels, drinks, dancing, and old friends had ended with a roadtrip of tears. Why can't that be us, you wanted to know. Why can't I just be happy in our little town and get married like them and just stay. I remember shaking my head, gripping the steering wheel as tears fell down my cheeks, trying to figure out how to tell you that I wanted to, or at least I wished that I did, but I just couldn't. At least not then. Not now, I told you. And you knew that, I told you when you kept arguing and I finally got angry. You knew that when you met me, that I had things I wanted to do, things that meant something to my life, to my whole basic existence. It was what you had liked most about me, then, when we first met. That I wasn't happy just staying, being a small town girl, married with three kids by the time I was 30. And now - then - I was starting to see the beauty in that kind of life, but it still wasn't the kind that I wanted. If you want that, I finally told you, then you don't want it with me. You rolled your eyes, leaned back in the seat, and we rode the rest of the way home in silence.
Sometimes it was easier, to get caught up in it and pretend that it was what I did want. Because I did want you. And there were so many things about you and that life that I wanted to keep forever. It's funny, how I always seem to find myself in this exact same place. I want to stay, because it's easier, and there are some good things, great things, here. The thought of moving out of this space - it's just simply exhausting. It's just so much work. Sometimes I find myself clutching at it with my figurative fists, thinking that I can't let it go, this is my life now, fuck all of it if it can't just come to me like this. And then I wake up in the morning and I know that it's worth more to work for happiness, for that place I can see in my far-off vision, than to just sink down and stay here.
"It's been a long time, since you felt like you could have a life of your own," Susan said to me, as I sat enveloped in her soft brown leather couch. I stared out the window at her beautiful green garden and nodded. A life of my own, where I didn't feel like I still needed to make up something to someone, where I didn't feel like I had to be someone else to fit what they expected, where I didn't feel like I had to hurt myself to keep them from hurting. A life. All my own. To do whatever I want with. It's terrifying.
So I'm taking the Dream Catchers and stringing them into plans. I need something to pinch and roll between my fingers when that early-morning feeling begins to overwhelm. I don't want this to be all there is. And I want that more fervently now than before because, now, I can finally admit that it doesn't have to be that way, that there are no dark specters hiding behind a door somewhere that will jump out and shout, "NO! You don't deserve anything more." Rejection came today, and I felt sad about it for about a minute, and then I got right back out there and renegotiated, thinking to myself, I will give you this, because you asked for it.