Wednesday is my second day returning to routine after being away from home for eleven and hosting my mother for another six. The light's fading, O.'s about to wake, and I'm still in yoga togs. Not because I do yoga these days but because they're wash-and-wear and slightly more presentable than pajamas.
The day started with a rush to get O. up and fed before the fridge repairman was supposed to arrive -- but he was late and the morning was an exercise in waiting, half-resumed chores and plans for a much-needed walk held in limbo. That is what the first two weeks of this year have felt like, a suspension of progress. I'm travel-weary and stiff in the joints from being cramped for decompression time, mental and physical. Though, in the name of efficiency, I've tried to skip the post-holiday recovery phase -- the type that follows overexposure to my parents -- it's clear I need it more than ever. So here I am. Poking erratically with one hand at the keys, the other in a bag of chocolate.
I didn't think of writing as exercise, once upon a time, but after these weeks away from the practice, I know it's my form of meditation. I've missed it not because it's pleasurable -- hell, it's hard going most of the time -- but because I'm much worse off without it. Congestion of the mind is killer, and time with my family generates exactly the kind of cloud that stifles me, confuses me. I'm surer of who I am when I'm away from the voices that continue to try to raise me. For that reason alone, I don't think I remember starting any year with a clear head since leaving home -- most Januaries in my memory hold the spillover of December's return to old nests. Ones that are good for short visits but are, for longer, inhospitable.
I've always wanted the beginning of the year to be what so many people seem to enjoy -- a natural time to take stock of what's in store for us. I've peered into the months ahead, though, and it's looking extra foggy. It's a big year for family get-togethers -- more milestone birthdays, a wedding, and all the prenuptial events on top of the usual holidays. It would be an understatement to say I'm approaching all of it with trepidation.
But the year also promises to be an exercise in this exercise -- writing through it all. In recent years, I've dodged the page because I hated the truths about my family it forced me to examine. Can't you write about anything else? I wondered. Shouldn't you just give up on the subject?
How can you leave what follows you, defines you, whether you wish it to or not.
I don't know. But I suspect this year will offer plenty on the matter to think about.
Family Recipe: Creamed Potatoes
3 hours ago