wide open spaces

There’s a feeling sometimes, that catches in my chest, and I wonder if I can possibly describe it. Is it actually possible to feel tremendous joy and sadness at exactly the same time? And I don’t mean in the form of two conflicting emotions, but both part of the same, singular thing, at a single, cellular level.

I suppose we’re all capable of holding two opposing ideas simultaneously — who was it that said this was a sign of adulthood? Or was it of insanity?

So I eat ice cream I shouldn’t eat, and drink too much wine with dinner, and smoke cigarettes I shouldn’t smoke, and stay up too late at night even when I have to set my alarm for the morning; I consider myself to be an adult, a reasonable, intelligent adult, who knows this is her one mind, life, body, chance, and should think of herself as a body to live from not in.

Meanwhile I watch my older children struggle with difficult bosses or worry about if they’re going to make enough money to feed themselves adequately or help pay their college tuition so they don’t owe their firstborn when they’re done with school, and realize how little our lives and concerns differ. At their age, I figured that, by my age, I’d have it all figured out; I don’t know if I’m more saddened that I don’t for me, or for them.

I was looking at my hands today while I was practicing the piano, and again just now, as I was thinking about all of the joy I’d like them to hold on to, and the pain I’d like to catch and carry away, like taking the compost out and throwing it into the pile by the fence where it can become rich black dirt, or food for the deer so maybe they’ll leave my hostas alone in the spring. But they’re just these little, bony hands, with constantly clipped fingernails and callouses around the corners from hammering away at the piano keys for hours a day, and despite all that, they don’t really seem to be all that strong.

I want to laugh, and cry, and my stomach to stop hurting, and my right ear to stop chirping, and a day just to sit on the front porch in a chair in the sun with a good book and a lightly-chilled under-oaked glass of chardonnay and my husband in the living room with Mahler on the stereo and something good bubbling on the stove.

I’ve decided to be a rabid feminist when I grow up, but am also a wife and mother and daughter and teacher and friend and musician and writer and wonder if the others somehow preclude the one (Isurehopenot), and there are so many things I think I might like to be if I had enough time to think of them all; when all I really want, sometimes, is just to figure out who the hell me is, and what exactly it is that I want.

What I want – a healthy body and mind, my husband in bed next to me every night, happy, successful children, a life free of worry. I have most of that, most of the time, except for the last; wonder if there’s a way to just turn that off, then.

2 Responses to “wide open spaces”

  1. March 30, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Great post. I understood exactly how you felt as you described it. I guess we’re all more alike than not — at least I sure felt just like you as I read this.

  2. 2 Suz.
    March 31, 2011 at 6:40 am

    I’ve read this post twice now, once yesterday in the bright of day and again just now, sitting outside with my coffee listening to the world around me come awake. Both times I’ve wondered, “How the hell did she read my mind?” I don’t know how old you are and can only guess at the worries you carry, but I can tell you that this worrying will eat at you if you let it. Easier said than done, I know, but there has to be a path you can take that’ll ease your mind. I write only because at the tender age of forty-eight, my worries carried me to the cath lab, heart attack in full bloom, and it nearly killed me. That was this past Christmas day. I. Have since figured out, albeit the hard way, that no matter what i muddle over and over in my mind and heart, things will fall into their own place within their own time frames. I do hope you find some peace from yours and are able to push them aside for a time.

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