Today, I was a woman just hanging on.
The day went downhill pretty early – like it was some pissed off teenage girl who set up a lawn chair and a cooler, got real comfortable, and derided me and muttered expletives for the next 12 hours. A heckler, with time to kill.
“You’re crazy,” she said, “if you think you can pull it off.”
“You’ll never finish it. You never do.”
“Even if you do finish, it won’t be any good. Look at it. Already it’s no good.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Give up.”
“Why are you crying, crybaby?”
It’s not her first time to hang around. But today, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get her to shut up or leave. All the noise I could make wasn’t loud enough to drown out her voice. I tried.
I tried like hell.
She brought her best game, though. An email from my mother (some of her best work, but not worth the bandwidth here – and, honestly, hardly a blip on the screen. “Nice try, amateur,” I told the girl.). And a migraine (“How’s the headache?” the girl shot back. “Nice touch, right? Thought of that one myself.”).
It was a long day. It’s been a long year. I’m tired. A little lost. My need – for what? I don’t even know, it’s just need – is fathoms deep. Nothing fills me up. My confidence is shot full of holes, and it was never a solid plane to begin with.
A pretty attractive package, don’t you think? Hard to resist, and sexy, too.
Maybe this will sound crazy, but sometimes, it feels like there are different parts of me, separate and whole, who lived through each stage of my life, as though each of them existed to live out a set of years. A little girl. A teenager. A young woman, who made decisions from fear. A mother, who hardly ever feels like she’s on solid ground.
All of the memories are mine, still. Everything that has happened in my life – the beauty, the sadness – is imprinted and accessible. But. The memories seem like they’re separated by walls that clearly divide one stage of life from the next. Rooms of one house.
A few weeks ago, I had this thought: What if we didn’t have just one soul through our whole life? What if we could turn over a claim check for a new one when we’ve filled the last one with all the life we can?
What if when we’ve stretched one soul to its limits – throwing all of our pain into it, the losses, the hope, the disappointment, the self-doubt, the fear – we could trade it in for another? Maybe with one long breath, we could fill our lungs and every cell and oh yes, our heart, with air that’s as old as the ground where we walk, heavy with the wisdom of the souls that have left their bodies behind, who know the span of life beginning to end, who could tell us if it all really comes to something. One breath, a new soul.
Count me in. If the universe is taking requests, here’s my order for one who is confident and sure of herself, who doesn’t question what can be done. Who is tender with herself, and patient. Who comes out swinging, and doesn’t abide hecklers.
Or how about this…What if through some grace, I didn’t even have to ask, and one day I would just feel new?
I know all the things I should tell myself, and now at the end of this day, I’ve started. I sent my heckler packing (by nightfall she was just twirling her hair and popping her gum, anyway. Bored of me. I couldn’t really blame her. ).
I’m done with this day. Done with this year. With the fear. With the doubt that has been my closest companion for all these years.
I’m ready for a clean slate. A second wind. A dip in the Jordan.
I’m here, waiting to feel new. Anytime, Universe. You know where to find me.