I don’t want to write today. I don’t want to read, to research, to converse, to put on a happy face. I don’t want to shower and dress.
I don’t want to pace my rooms, to walk my neighborhood, to clean another goddamn pile, to open the door to the fridge and slam it shut, knowing I’m too tired for the market again, though I may brave it. Or I may not.
I don’t want to check the job boards for all the things I know how to do for which I’m “overqualified,” for the jobs I once knew how to do for which the software tools have changed and I can’t imagine starting again, learning again, trying again.
Ten years. Four layoffs. Countless projects – some glorious, others miserable. Never a moment’s security. Never enough money. Rarely a rest.
This is not complaining; these are facts.
Another fact? For once in my life, I’d like to give up.
For a little while, I’d like to surrender to everything that aches, that’s closing in, that’s weighing me down, that’s preventing sleep, that’s invading sleep.
I accomplished my goal: my sons are in college. They’re healthy. They’re grounded. They’re strong. I did my job, and I said my goodbyes.
And now I’m tired. I want to rest. I want to rest. I want to rest.
* * *
I’m circling and looking for wagons but all I’m doing is wearing a path in the worn carpet and there is no cover but nor is the enemy visible though I sense his presence, and I am frightened.
All I can see is haze and dust.
Survival is the only option, I tell myself, tracing over the same old path.
Now it’s Jacqueline and she smiles at me and strides to the other side of a large white room with a gleaming granite island, where Caroline leans her elbows and sips her coffee.
This is New Jersey.
What the fuck am I doing in New Jersey?
* * *
Now I’m observing and standing still. Someone in a lab coat holds a sheet of paper in front of me and it’s torn, but on it is a black bar code of sorts and it’s a scannable image my son recently described. But I have no applications for this technology.
I shake my head and say I can’t.
I don’t like those words: I can’t.
Now there is another slip of paper and I am told to press. I press and the paper becomes a link, and a colorful site opens on a small screen in the white room and I feel relieved.
The man in the lab coat points me to the counters, and I see that all the objects are labeled with “press here” and so I press a silver blender and it becomes a link, I press a chrome toaster and it becomes a link, I press an apple in a basket of fruit and it becomes a link; I wander the kitchen and gleefully press on everyday objects as each provides me access to a new site.
I read, I write, I interact – delighted that this technology collapses the distance between digital and real, virtual and tangible.
* * *
There is no need for protective cover if I may proceed without obstacles.
There is no need for circling if I create a dreamworld in which I may move ahead.
Here, I earn my living with fingertips and eyes, with small screens and an expansive mind. Here, I am Alice in the Brave New Wonderland.
Another housewife strolls through the scene and I hope it isn’t Danielle; I am now aware that this is lucid dreaming, though I do not act, and I do not act out. I hope it is Jacqueline with her own hard road and ability to cope, or even Teresa playing tough, though she isn’t my style. I need them both: the one who smiles and the one who fights.
This is television, I tell myself. But maybe I can take the parts I want, and go.
Caroline offers me a cup of coffee.
* * *
Something in my morning reading brings me to my own words, to my worst fears for my children which did not materialize, to my mantra in a lifetime of few mantras and the backbone to hold to an unyielding work ethic.
Something in my morning reading brings me back to this – to a refusal to encourage permission to fail.
A refusal to give up.
Though I was speaking in the context of parenting my sons, I read to myself in the hope that circling back may help me forge ahead.
I do not consider myself a failure – as a woman, a friend, a writer, and certainly not as a parent. Yet I am a disappointment to myself. I worked – and was paid for it – for more than 30 years. I feel my failure to provide financially more deeply than I can express. However, I become a failure on the day that I throw in the towel – on every dream, on the hope of earning a living, and feeling well, physically. I become a failure if I offer my son an example of giving up, of being lazy, of ceasing to look for solutions.