I’ve neglected this little corner of the world lately. I decided to try to write more regularly, and to get all my windy facebook posts moved over here as well. So, in the spirit of just sharing whatever is in my brain on any given day… Here goes.
Today I sat perched uncomfortably at the edge of our couch folding laundry. I had convinced myself that it would be an easier task if I were sitting down, but the comfort of a well worn couch is totally lost when you don’t allow yourself to sink back into it. A good couch sit is like a hug. A good couch sit should be enjoyed with a fuzzy blanket and a book. In a really good couch hug, there would also be wine and maybe a fire in a big beautiful fireplace. This was not a couch hug. I was very prude with my couch today. I pulled a hodge-podge of mismatched bath towels across my lap and folded them neatly into a teetering stack. We have never owned a coordinated set of anything. Is it possible that no two bath towels in my possession are even the same size? The sage colored one looks like something I would have once picked out, but it had to have been a decade ago, and it shows. I know at least two in my collection were left unclaimed after days at the lake with family and friends, where we wrapped exhausted and euphoric children soaking wet onto our laps, soaking in the short ride back to reality, possessions be damned.
We’re a long way from those long and lazy lake days now. It’s a crisp 44 degrees outside my window, the sun teasing the possibility that a brave soul who dares to wander outside may find an ounce of warmth. No, even the sun puts on a false smile in this month made entirely of Mondays. I’ve never met a Winter that made me wish for anything but an escape. You know, I read recently that there’s no actual evidence that Jesus was born December 25th. Somewhere along the way the date was chosen as a day to celebrate his birth, and we have clung to the tradition since. Want to hear my theory? Winter is a giant suckfest and celebrating Christmas gives us a glimmer of something warm and beautiful to break up the absolute suck of it. It’s just a theory. Don’t crucify me for it. That’s inappropriate Jesus humor for you. For those of you who may be new here, it was very on-brand for me. Welcome.
Back to the laundry, because I know you’re dying to know how that one ends. I was sitting there folding towels, and I looked down at the light tan one I was slowly creasing that probably used to be brown. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t know how long I had been sitting there pressing my hands on this one towel. I felt something wet hit the top of my hand and it took me a second to grasp that it was coming from my own freakin eye balls. I was crying. I was sitting there folding towels and crying for no apparent reason. I’m telling you, this is a month of Mondays. October was our warm and relaxing weekend, where we were free to finally hide our bodies under hoodies, but nothing heavier, and soak up the real warmth of a sun that seemed to love us so much more back then. November is our Monday. November wakes us with a chill and gives us more to do than we have time for. November makes us bundle up and sink our heads into our shoulders and hurry from place to place. November makes us cry for no apparent reason. It’s not just me, right? Listen, I know some of you will argue with me on this. But, the trees! No, October won that one. But, Thanksgiving! Yes, I love food and excuses to gather, but this one holiday does not make up for the absolute blah of the rest of the month. A 5:00 cocktail does not a Monday cure. Ya feel me?
My mind moves quickly, and sometimes it ends up in places I didn’t plan on traveling to. I show up in a memory under-dressed and unprepared for the emotional climate. That’s what happened when I was folding laundry today. I was thinking about how laundry is one of those tasks that never gives you any satisfaction. Even if you see it complete, you’re literally wearing around the workload that will start the bottomless cycle over again. The kids need clean laundry, so we wash and dry their clothes. A mountain of clean laundry sitting in baskets heightens my anxiety, so we fold and put away. It’s not that I’m good at keeping up with it, but something about kids having to dig through laundry baskets of clean clothes looking for something to wear gives me all kinds of yucky incompetent feelings that I’m sure a therapist could fully explain. I’m going to guess it has something to do with all the sparkly pinterest laundry rooms I’ve seen over the years. So, as I sat there doing this thing I hate and not letting my couch hug me, I let my mind wander. There are so many places that sounded better to me at the time, but my mind inexplicably chose one I hadn’t thought about in a while.
I suddenly had a clear picture in my head. I was walking down a narrow path in
the woods behind my parents’ house, leaves crunching beneath my feet. The trees were still turning, dancing in the breeze like a flame. It had to have been October. It felt like October. I’ve been trying to place where the emotional response came from. Maybe I’m a little homesick, not for the actual home I live 10 miles from now and visit often, but for the days I spent living there and the freedom from laundry I never knew to appreciate. I used to walk back into the trees when life got a little too loud, a little too demanding. It’s unnerving now that I thought life was overwhelming then, before I knew real responsibility. I guess the little things are the big things until the big things come along. The same could be said for my attitude about Winter. The bleakness of the season depresses me, but perhaps I only have the privilege of getting sad about the weather because I haven’t felt real pain, real grief, real struggle. Maybe I’m making little things into big things because I’m lucky enough not to have learned the difference the hard way. Now that I’m a card-carrying member of adulthood, I don’t always get to escape into the woods alone when life gets a little too loud.
These days, chasing the quiet looks a lot more like walking into my bedroom closet, shutting the door, turning off the light, and breathing deeply for a few minutes, or until I hear screams that definitely sound more like injury than anger. Chasing the quiet looks more like a hot bath after the kids go to bed. It looks like sitting down to write whatever pops into my head, no deleting allowed. Sometimes it looks like a moment of bravery before posting the jibberish for anyone to read and judge and for maybe just one someone to escape inside of for a minute and feel seen. Chasing the quiet sounds like standing on my fireplace hearth and dancing and singing at the top of my lungs to an empty living room when I’m home alone. That one has a way of drowning out the noise, especially when the songs are angsty ones from my teenage years. Maybe that’s why my couches always want to hug me. They’re saying, “Shhhh, girl. Shhhhh. Calm yourself for a minute.” You want to know the great thing about seasons? They change. Months? There are 12 of them in a year, and after enough years of escaping from the bad ones, you get really good at appreciating every second of the good ones. The month of Mondays is already half over. Most of us will probably survive the rest of it.