Took the girls to an author event for the One Community One Book celebration here in our town last night. I’d been home all of 30 seconds (after an hour drive and before the requisite trip to the bathroom) when the request came to take them. But, of course, I had to spend some time talking with my husband about the demolition and remodeling in our basement, so by the time we were ready to leave we had all of ten minutes to drive through somewhere, eat, park and get in the auditorium. Which we did. Uncomfortably, but done nonetheless.
Already suffering from teen-drama hangover from the night before, I wasn’t in the best of moods when asked. But I knew how important it was to one child, in particular, and how the whole “one community/one book” thing had been to me over all the years, and so we went. Perhaps it was the teen-queen hangover, perhaps it has something to do with eating a whopper jr in 2.5 minutes while driving with my knee, perhaps it was just that I’m feeling the same pressures that everyone else in the world who has a JOB and KIDS and a HOUSE and a SPOUSE, but I walked into that place in a sour mood.
And then I saw Michelle and Alan who chair the one book event, and they greeted me warmly and by name, and then the woman they were talking to turned and smiled brightly and said “Oh, I’m so glad I get to meet you.” My daughter’s lit teacher. Nice lady. Why would she want to meet me and how would she know who I was before I introduced myself? Because she read my column, for years, and she was thrilled to find out that the girl in her class with the same last name was, indeed, my child.
It was, well, it was not quite a bittersweet moment, but the writer in me can’t think of a better phrase to coin at the moment. I suddenly had a name for that depression and mood I was feeling. Damn it! I’m still missing the goodbye! Am I regretting my decision to quit writing this particular column? Not on your tintype, girly girl. But I am realizing what not writing has done to me, to my mood, to the family dynamic. Maybe it was the switch to TV talk that started the anger ball rolling down the depression slope.
After the event, the teacher and I talked more and I thanked her for her kind words and mentioned that I wasn’t writing any more (she was complimenting me in the present tense), and she said, “oh, I noticed.” I think she was being kind to not say anything, like when your friend has a ginormous boil on her neck and you are kind enough to NOT say “What the hell IS that?” I told that the TV thing just wasn’t working for me and she shook her head and furrowed her whole face (not just her brow) and said, “no, I didn’t think that was a good fit for you, either.”
So, I’m sitting in my pity pot right now. Not just on it. IN it. That’s what I’m doing. So I need to get out of it. Right now!
I started with the paper by chance and for free, much as I’m doing here. And, what freedom I have here. I can even cuss if I so choose! I can talk about war and politics and religion and whatever the heck I want, however the heck I want–WHENEVER I want. Right? Right.
So what’s missing? What’s missing besides the closure and the goodbye? The deadlines, of course. And the pay (not that it was much). It’s that tactile, “actual” world thing, where I could imagine 10, 20, even 30,000 people seeing my face each Sunday, reading my words while sipping a cup o’ joe. I guess I didn’t realize what a mood-enhancer the thought of lots of people reading me each week could be/was. Now I do. And recognition is 9/10 of cure, right? Okay, I’m making that up, but I do know that once I’m aware, actually paying attention to how something is affecting me, then things start to change. So, here’s to getting out of (and maybe even off) the pity pot. Here’s to being aware and creating change.
And here’s to this: my final goodbye to my column. Can’t wait to find out what’s next.