It's been one of those weeks where everything seems a little bit broken and I find myself staring into space, a voyeur, searching for clues in my own life. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...
You know that feeling? Like you want to throw up and you don't know where the sick feeling is coming from. Except I think I know. I think I'm beginning to figure it out.
My greatest fear (beside technology) is routine. I cannot stand the thought of having one. At the same time though, I realize that there's a part of me that takes great comfort in the mundane, the predictability of it all. At my core there is a great need for unpredictability and chaos, hence the internal war I feel like I am fighting. Losing, most likely but fighting nontheless: the hypothetical screaming match, two faces with sharp tongues smacking each other senseless. Every day there is fighting. Fighting the wake-up calls and bedtimes and work schedules. Fighting the pay-by dates and the Wednesday night programming and the lunch-hour. Fighting the suburbs and it's SUV club and khaki pants and bad taste. Fighting the fears of adulthood. And then fighting back.
I've posted before about feeling overwhelmed, trying to do it all and feeling that nothing is ever getting done and that's a painful feeling too. Another part of me feels that "trying to do it all" isn't the issue, that as my priorities are shifting, a part of me is rebelling against responsibility.
There are days when I get in my car to go to the gym and for a split second think about turning right, instead of left. Taking the 101 to San Francisco to join the street performers (I could play the tambourine!) and dissapear.
I would never leave my child, of course. He's my life. But see? There it is again. He's my life. Pretty scary sometimes. Because there is much routine in life as a parent. Plenty of (organized) chaos as well but mostly routine and a lot of time lost between trying to catch up with life and outrun it at the same time. Faster, so it all blurs. Faster and I can be spontaneous again. I can be free. Selfish. I can wander aimlessly. Get beautifully lost.
I have a tendency to feel according to metaphor. I have broken up with boyfriends based on signs, dreams and moments that seemed too poetic to ignore. A collapsing ceiling for instance. A broken glass. So when my computer breaks I think it's representative of my work, my career. I think maybe I'm wasting my time writing, working on manuscripts, keeping dreams alive, exhaling through fingertips that are calloused and tired. Waiting...
The I button of my keyboard is broken. A quirk. It keeps flying off when I press it. It snaps into place but only for a moment until I hit it with my middle finger and then POP! The I is up in the air. I am up in the air.
I once lost the escape key to an old computer. It made sense. I felt trapped and couldn't escape. And now? The "I" button. A defect. And suddenly I feel as if it, too, makes sense. Am I defective? Am I afraid of acting like a grown-up? Am I afraid that routine has replaced passion? Do I feel inspired enough to write anything decent? Because for once in my life I have writer's block. For the first time in my life I sit down at my computer to work on my manuscript and I stare at blank pages as my blind hero wanders aimlessly, back and forth between chapter two and chapter three wondering what to do next and I don't know what to tell him. I don't know where I want him to go.
And so I write an outline. For the first time in my life I write an outline. I do what I'm supposed to do. I follow directions. The rules. Like the book says. A book I used to throw out the window and into the faces of the English teachers I walked out on every day at school. I was a complete brat, a real know-it-all but at least I knew what I wanted. Now I'm not so sure.
"I'll do it my way. Goodbye," I used to say.
But I cannot do it my way anymore. It's not about me anymore and a part of me is rebelling against that. Frustrated and lost in transition, whispering profanities when no one is listening. Pop! The I key is in the air.
I want to be taken care of and at the same time I want so badly to be able to take care of myself. And I can't. I want to help everyone including myself... and I can't. I want to show Archer that life is not cookie-cutter, that the world is wild and unorthodox and there is beauty in the dark and disgusting, that rolling around in the dirt is wonderful and here, let's eat sand all day and fingerpaint with ice-cream..! And yet, all the while I hold in my hands a box of wet wipes. Antibacterial.
You can never be too careful.
Yes you can! No, you cannot.
Everyday I find myself caught in these moments. Trying to discipline. Becoming the authority figure when all my life I have been unable to respect authority. (Three years ago I ended up with a gun to my head and my face in the concrete for resisting arrest. Long story. I was innocent. I swear.) When all my life I have broken the rules in order to feel emancipated. Broken the speed limit and the law. Broken hearts and bones and felt good about it... (okay, maybe not good but alive!) Like I was doing what I wanted to do! Selfish and cruel and often dangerous and I collected these feelings and experienced and was inspired. Depressed, yes, but working! There was no routine. Not even a 9-5 job. No need for benefits and budgets and annual exams. No dress-codes or access-codes. No by-the-book living. I was alone. It didn't matter. I didn't care.
Now I do. I care a lot. I care about jobs providing benefits. I care about money and lifestyle and keeping a clean house, an orderly life. And it's consuming me. COMSUMING.
Sometimes I miss the yesterdays. The guts.
I suppose the guts are still there. Maybe. I can turn myself inside out and check but a part of me is afraid that when I do, I will find a clean interior, wires tied neatly in a bow with a cherry on top. Neat and tidy. White picket-fenced in. Responsible. Shoot me, then. In the foot. Watch me bleed. And no, I don't want a bandaid.
Growing up, my Mom was every much together. Is together. She never cussed. She never flipped anyone off. She never broke the law. Snuck out for a cigarette. Drank. I had a cookie-cutter childhood and feel blessed to have had that. Everyone loved one another. My parents never fought (and if they did, we never knew about it.) We were the perfect family. On the outside. On the inside. How lucky.
But I am not my mother. I am myself. And while I want what's best for my child I also want what's best for me and I think, instead of beating myself up, trying to pacify the wars that consume me, it's time I came to terms with the truth.
And the truth is: I'm not a grown-up. I like to pretend that I am. I like to appear mature for my age and so together and ... I'm not. Not even close.
Because although bearing a child causes one to grow up practically overnight, there are major growing pains. And it's okay for me to feel torn in two. I think it might be normal even.
The truth is that only Humpty-Dumpty could put himself back together again. (It's says so in the invisible print of the epilogue.) And it took him years to do so, maybe his entire life.
And maybe Humpty Dumpty was never the same. Maybe he climbed back on the wall without an arm or a foot or an ear and looked upon a new view, from a different side of the wall, and maybe he was happy there. Maybe he realized that just because he was a work in progress didn't mean he had to hide his weaknesses, fill the missing pieces haphazardly. Maybe he was whole in a new way.