The winding dirt road we climbed to get here made me more than a little nervous, especially from the back of the motorcycle, but when I climbed off and saw the miles wide view from the brown A-frame, I knew.
ďThis is it, the place and house I was meant to have.Ē
From our house, on a summer day, I see layered shades of green blushing to every corner of the horizon. Most days four horses nibble the grass downhill. Several cows eat and sleep across the road from them. A space between some trees on the hill a few miles away embraces a house. We think the people who live there are friends of ours. On a clear day, we imagine they can see our house, too. Not knowing makes pretending so much easier.
In the fall itís almost impossible to write about anything but trees. I know they are the same ones whose green went straight to my lungs in the spring, yet in October they are new again, a rush of red, orange, and yellow. I know theyíll be bare soon, and my eyes ache from being so wide open. Knowing what follows the treesí disrobing makes me wish even more that I could keep these colored days. Winter brings wind with a voice and fingers that reach through windows. We have an ample supply of blankets and no longer scoff at those who say you should wear a hat in winter because you lose most of your body heat through your head. We wear hats inside. We cannot see any blacktop, and the only glint bounces off water and sparkling stones. Not a department or grocery store in sight. For me this is a good thing. The sky takes up a good deal of room, as it should. So close, it forces my heart and mind open. I can hold onto my troubles only by staying away from the windows. It is a fine, fine place for a life.
If I could simply ease up enough to enjoy it.
In real life Iím a mommy, first and foremost, not a writer or reader or a music appreciator. Iím a little of those some of the time, but never as much as I think I should be. Itís the shoulds that will be my downfall. I should be able to do it all and enjoy my home and miles wide view.
Not that the mommy thing isnít exactly what I chose. It is. But sometimes I feel about to fall off the deep end, which was a lot closer to where I was standing than I thought.
Now I'm so busily obsessed with doing the mother thing perfectly, fitting into every good mom niche, that I can't even have or eavesdrop on a normal conversation anymore. Of course I could be fooling myself into thinking that I ever could anyway. I was eavesdropping this morning at the library story hour and found myself getting angry about a conversation in which I had no part! There must be some prescription drug I could take for this.
Looking out the windows is the least of my concerns. What happened to the woman who could have a friendly, casual conversation with anyone within armís reach? The one with the dry sense of humor and easygoing manner? Or have I been fooling myself all along and simply discovering that my self, freed of workplace responsibilities and distractions, is actually offensive and necessarily lonely?
I had a friend who is also a stay home mom. Sheís always been that, whereas I took breaks from the day job to dance the stay home jig. I thought, we thought, that when I stayed home again we would have lots of time to hang around together, read each otherís writing, help each other out by taking turns with the boys while we took care of errands. It hasnít worked that way.
Both boys started preschool; she thinks her son needs time when he doesnít have to concentrate on being nice to someone else (my son), so we donít meet to play and talk when everyone is free.
I threw myself into working to get the town to pay for a crossing guard across from the elementary school and found I couldnít even talk with her about the issue without bursting into anger and tears. We used to talk about all manner of trivial things on a daily basis; now we havenít spoken like that for two weeks, and I imagine sheís afraid to talk to me because she thinks I might bring up the issue and ask her to do something that exceeds the level of involvement she pictured.
I miss her.
I have more library books than I could possibly read before their due date, plenty of writing to revise, hours set aside to drive for Meals on Wheels and help at the elementary school, a newsgroup that fills hours every week, rooms that need dusting and vacuuming and disinfecting, recipes Iíve never tried, and children who want me to go outside and play catch or roughhouse in the living room until someone gets hurt.
I miss her.
Copyright retained by contributor.
Released: November 16, 1998