The other day my three-year-old girl exploded out of the house, saying “Beautiful Daaaay!” while sprinting to her bike. She was greeting the day. I wasn’t. My summer class was cancelled, two freelance contracts dried up, I had a birthday, Wife was going home for a week to help with a family illness, my son finished preschool, and I was mired in the insecurity of being an adjunct and a freelancer. Instead of being infected by her exuberance I was jealous. It sucked. I sucked.
Wife left at 4:30 this morning, kids are getting over hacking-cough colds, and I’m deviating from the weekly Sunday column because for the first time I am a fully unemployed single parent. An experiment worth noting.
Why share it? I don’t know. There may be ugly motivations that could be pegged as attention-seeking behavior, or the validation that comes from people responding to what you’re doing, or the inflated self-importance of mining the minutiae for some thread of connection, however one-sided. That’s not the essence of the impulse, I hope. And it’s not for posterity for Wife and Kids: we keep books for them (the weekly entries have thinned to monthlies) and she’ll be too busy to be checking a computer. Maybe it’s an attempt to put a block on the bulldozer of time, to slow it down to enjoy it now instead of in hindsight.
I’m using the screen of language to keep people from looking in but maybe that’s what the impulse is all about, to have a conversation. In that hour reprieve between their bedtime and mine, to share the bits that make the bigger picture a whole lot clearer. In an essay on perspective, my teenage nephew got over the grudge against his mother’s chicken pot pie by looking at it fresh, trying it as if for the first time, without all his predisposed baggage. That’s why I’m writing this, for perspective, to make peace with my ugly pot pie. To curb the anxiety over money, career impotence, middle age, and other pot-pie-ish preoccupations that keep me from rushing headlong into the day.