Yesterday afternoon, while Dr. Blythe attempted valiantly to save my i-pod (more on that later), I scrubbed out a cooking pot thought lost to burned potatoes. I didn't think it would make it. I thought about leaving it outside on the stoop for the snow and rain to scour. But eventually, I got the stain out. I hung it dripping on the rack.
My i-pod is gone. All the music stored on it, thousands of songs, gone. Dr. B. worked all day, but the only way to save it was to clear it, erase, and so we did. I gave the go-ahead. I'll miss my music. Some of that stuff-I don't know where I found it. I'll miss my little mixes: Breadloaf and Chicago and Saturday Morning in Fall. I don't know how I put it together. But in a way, I'm relived. I'm ready. It's time to move on, time to find new music, to make new mixes: California and January and Dawn.
It's hard, my first landlady said when she heard I was moving to Virginia to teach. But I think that's your gift.
Hard things? I asked.
Starting over, she said.
I have dyed my hair (dark brown). I have bought new shoes (brown suede heels). It is a new year, and I have not yet disappointed anyone, lied, lost my way, been rejected, broken a promise, been misled, googled names, thrown up in a bathroom, stayed in bed, scarfed cookie dough, believed a lie, hurt my friends, walked into a wall, wept, fallen down.
Well, those last two I've done. Check that.
But I feel the year, stretching out before me, long and weird, unripe and cold, lavender in color like a strange sweet fruit. Last year, I finished writing a novel. This year, I finish what I've begun, this woman. This me. I live up to my life.
I have two resolutions: 1) learn to say no, and, 2) find the right people who say yes.
That first one is personal, and the second, that's tricky. I've never been a lucky girl. Only one thing in my writing life was handed to me. Everything else I fought for; I have the claw marks and the blood. I started writing a novel two years ago because I was sick of no one reading what I wrote--and I was sick of hearing myself complain. I decided to do something.
Now. What to do with what I did?
I want to write a story that people read--not just professors or poets or my friends. I want to write a story that my mother reads, her friends read, a stay-at-home mom reads, a teenage girl. I think I did that. I think they might. I made this thing. I made it for you. I bore it into the world. I have carried it around for two years, it and its sister, older, experienced, unloved, the novel and the poems. Now I have to bundle it up, strap on its helmet, tie its ribbons tight, and throw it, as hard as I can, and hope hope hope, and say go go go!
Here's where I am now. I don't care if you think I'm smart. I don't care if you think I know things (I know for a fact I don't). I will never be the smartest girl in the room, or the prettiest, or the wealthiest, or right, or loud.
Here's what I care about, here's what I can do: make you forget your dishes, your fabric softener, your husband, your carburetor, your weather, your weight, your mortgage, your unhappiness, your hair, your heart, your job.
Here's what I can do: make you remember being little, being young, making angels with your arms, when you were happy, when you were free, when you were out of yourself, when everything was promised.
Everything is promised.
This is my gift.
Follow me, go with me on this, trust me for a minute. I swear to you--this alphabet? It does not disappoint.
And neither do I.