I see many people who clearly have grown up without a qualm about who they are, that is to say they know who they are, they have always known who they are, and they always will be that person. These are the people who stand in front of their closet and do not ever bite their lips before deciding on wearing red. I think I used to be that person in my twenties. I was awfully sure of myself and was in many ways insufferable.
Now, my computer is bossing me around. I think my automatic editor is one of those people. It corrects words that are already correct and then offers the very same spelling of the very same word and then when I click the proffered choice (just to get the bloody underline to remove itself) -- and this is the really annoying part -- it puts the word in the sentence (overwriting the word that was there, which is indeed the same word) but somehow during the insertion process swallows part of the word that follows, coughing up during the process a bunch of gobligook which sits on the page and has to be corrected again. Annoying! If you lean down close to the page, you can hear it laugh in a sly little way.
This is a symptom more than anything. It is symptomatic of me being acquiescent in the worst of ways. The part of me that married the wrong people for good reasons, the part of me, for example, that agrees to do something I'm fully capable of doing but don't really want to do. Will you do this? Oh, yes, sure, I'll do that. I seem to be sliding into and out of my true self and wheezing with the effort. Oh, my god, I am the accordion of myself!
I can be pulled apart and pushed back together and for what purpose? I have to admit, (sigh) there's a lot of sighing with accordions, that it seems unfair to reach an age of reason and then use that reason to turn around and let people boss you around, not to mention to have things like computers boss you around too.
I'm only writing this note because way back when I agreed with myself that it might be a good idea to have a blog (and it's not like I don't have opinions, I do) I didn't realize that it never ends. You have to really want to keep chatting away and honestly, I don't. So, sporadic it is. There.
I don’t know what to make of my new life, seven whole days here*. It’s sunny, the windows are closed to keep in the cool and you can no longer hear the cars going down the Mohawk Trail. I got up at eight o’clock (late for me) and found mold in the coffeemaker from ten days of having left grounds in the filter. It’s so unlike me to not have taken the grounds out and rinsed the pot. I think I was just terrified I would somehow cock-up the chance to be at this (now recently passed) writing conference. I almost did. I almost drove to the wrong airport and had to pull over and go inside a coffee house in Shelburne Falls and try to calm myself down, recheck my emailed notes on travel. Sometimes coffee can do that, calm you down.
And then off I went in my rented car. If they’d given me an eye test they might not have been so happy to rent me the bright red hatchback I dumped at the end of my long drive to the Burlington International Airport. It was actually the hardest part of driving; entering the parking garage, a shift in light from bright to dark and following arrows up and up until I pulled into a spot that seemed like the right place; removing all my luggage; a heavy suitcase with wheels aggressively uncooperative, a large shopping bag with a straw hat and a bathrobe, a purse, a canvas bag with my laptop and what not, standing there for a minute before locating the bridge and elevator. It seems almost surrealistic looking back.
And now, home in my home of newness, a hardback chair pulled up, sitting at my desk, an old pillow used in packing, softening the seat. Lots of empty cartons, lots of opened and not very unpacked boxes, with the exception of my books (sadly a small percentage of what I used to have) and papers; things I had to unpack right away to feel like myself; my turquoise hippo, William (a replica from the Met) and my dad’s statues and a green bowl he used to have, things like that. I feel a little lost but mostly found. It’s like I’ve sketched in my life and haven’t done the inking. I think the conference made me feel steadier about the decision to go out on my own again after decades; always tied to men, to lives that depended on me and now, children grown, it’s just me, kind of like a water witch seeking my way.
There’s a river in my backyard and just knowing it’s there makes me happy. You can see the lawn sloping down in the backyard, although who would call it a backyard with its trees that look like they’ve been there forever, and then further, on the other side of the river, climbing up into a giant hill that I personally would call a small mountain. They call them hills. I guess I haven’t climbed many hills, not like those. The trees look impenetrable, like they’re on a bit of fabric and the darkness between the trees is just painted on. Could be my eyesight, of course.
Pretty soon I’ll have to walk down and get a battery from the little family store. So far, I know about the family store, the general store, the town hall, the post office and a pizza place that has calzone, but you have to wait forty-five minutes for it if you go on a Saturday. Everyone wants to go there because they have a covered deck and it’s on the river side so you can pretend you’re on a riverboat. It doesn’t move, but the river does. It's a nice place.
I don’t have any comfortable chairs yet. There’s a window ledge in the sunroom and I sit in the corner between windows and have coffee. It’s my new favorite thing to do. I’ll be damned if I will order a recliner. I hate recliners (they’re so ugly!) and they remind me of when my son was spinning on a particularly dreadful one and slipped and fell into something. Everything was sharp back then, including my father-in-law who as an ex-navy commander controlled even our thoughts. I’m glad he’s dead. Not because I hate him so much; hate having somehow mutated into just plain sorrow and pity; two perfectly good sons he ruined, and cut into and almost ruined, partly ruined, my son who perseveres. My daughter somehow was able to stand up to him as I was in the beginning.
My brother and his wife are a tonic to be near. The reclusive life I’ve set up for myself is punctuated by visits to their home up Legate Hill despite my fear of their giant pig who walks around the living room groaning when he’s not pooping in the shallow pan that is four times the size of a cat box, or shuffling his blanket around on the oversized doggie bed he clearly loves. He’ll come, my brother, and fetch me since I’ve dropped driving as an occupation and skill. I love driving and I’m a better driver than he is because I’m dispassionate. I let go of anger so quickly I barely feel it. I’ve had plenty of practice. It’s a kindness, the fetching. I haven’t figured out how to get around. There should be a weekend shuttle to Greenfield, I think.
But this is the country and everyone has cars. Surely there must be people like me whose eyesight is crappy. Is there a support group for people who are going to get new corneas from a dead person but haven’t gotten around to it yet? I pour that thought away like yesterday’s coffee; both in denial and procrastination. I happen to think those are good skills.
*posted this after 20 days (vs. 7). Still feel the same.
C. D. Finley
Opinionated, wry, sometimes corny, observational humor mostly about writing, but you never know.