I sit amongst the chaos. Chaos. Two girls coloring to my right. Crouched over a shared coloring book. Using those “smelly” markers that always leave polka dots on the ends of their noses when they bring them close to sniff the evergreen and grape scents. “Mama, you think I can take art class?” asks my girl. Almost 6 years old. Her talent flowing through her fingers in a way I envy. And then I realize, as she fills in the spaces between the thin black lines, choosing each color so precisely, I sit only a fraction of a room away, my fingers moving quickly across the keyboard. I’m trying not to choose my words too carefully today. I’m trying to ignore the pizza on the floor. The laundry in every stage of done and undone. The kitchen overflowing with dishes. My dirty hair. The feeling that I have a hangover despite the fact I had nothing to drink last night. Trying to ignore the phone ringing, But it’s Sweetie so I answer. We talk for a few minutes. Then I return to the keyboard, trying hard to hold on to the pre-phone call thoughts.
There’s never any time to write. Time. Only. For. Writing. And I resent having to squeeze it in. In the middle of everything. Everyone’s needs, persistent, urgent, reaching me wherever I am.
Music plays. An album from before children. The lyrics play in my mind almost independent of the singing through the speakers. The speakers that Sweetie bought for me. Again, before children. I have shared more than one-third of my life with this man. One third of my life. One quarter of his. The music plays on and I think of the concerts we’ve been to. The music that has played in all of the places we’ve lived, on all of the car trips, including last night’s. Coming home from his sister’s house. Our three children asleep in the back. Mumford & Sons in the CD player, speakers turned up to the front. It’s a CD that should be played on loud, but we didn’t have that luxury. Couldn’t risk waking the kids. We sang quietly. I drummed my fingers against the steering wheel. My mind went to the day we had just shared as a family. A busy day of soccer practice with friends, a potluck lunch with a different group of friends, a family party with surprise guests. It was a full day. A full day in our full life. A day full enough to make me feel hungover today.
The rubbing sound of thick, bold-colored markers against the thin paper of a coloring book rings in my ears along with Jeff Tweedy. The negotiations of who gets the “puhrpull” one next threatening to pull me away from my work. And then I hear out loud the words I haven’t realized I’ve been singing along to: “I’m worried. I’m worried. I’m worried. I’m always in love.”
Thank you to my friend Heather of the EO, whose new Just Write series begins this week. She gave me the push to throw aside my editor self for a few minutes. Not something I do often or particularly well. But sometimes it’s all I can do to sit amidst the messy days of my life and get out a few words. Too often it never happens the way I want it to. Today I let it happen despite the imperfect conditions. Thanks for reading.Jen Writes, writing