The In-Between

 Image: stationery from Mongrel in Carytown

Image: stationery from Mongrel in Carytown

Right now I am trying to turn back into a human being fit for civil discourse. Lately, the minute I get home from a morning of teaching and meetings, I strip of my bra and earrings, take my hair down and climb into bed. Anything that must be reached had better be close. A cat climbs on top of me and a dog stretches out beside. The boy comes in to do his homework and positions himself so I can scratch his back. I stare at the ceiling, toss, turn, sleep, try to wind down from the wild excitement my mind manufactures. When my husband comes home, he joins us in bed. At some point, before I have to leave to teach again, I crawl out of bed to make dinner. 

"I feel like a feral animal," I say to my husband, hair and eyes wild.

"You look like one," he says back. 

I wonder what other people do during these hours, this in-between? In-between parts of the day, parts of a life. In-between knowing for sure and knowing for sure you don't know anything at all. That painful stretch of the heart in-between knowing what you want and actually getting it. Are other people able to do something productive? I can't even imagine. I have to shut it all down and out before I can take it in again.

Once upon a time I prided myself on not needing anything, not even a shower. Now I need yoga, meditation, 12 steps, 57 vitamins, journal writing, affirmations, god and a well-outfitted cave so I can function at all.  And I've had to step up my game lately because life has been stepping up her game, too. You want this? You want that? You'd better take care of yourself, girl, life says. Because, I'm going to need ALL OF YOU.

Sometimes self-care is asking for help, sometimes giving it. I make a point of showing up to talk to other people who need help at least once every single day. It makes me feel less crazy and alone. Sometimes I stop and take a bath or a morning walk past the grove of bamboo. Yesterday I took care of myself by leaning against my kitchen counter and eating 4 mini croissants in quick succession, 2 slathered with nutella and 2 with butter. It takes a lot of effort to care for a feral animal with changing needs and moods, a feral animal with both rough and tender skin.

The other day I lay down for a 10 minute meditation and took a 2 hour nap. When I woke up my husband was cleaning the shit out of our living room that doubles as his storage shed. It actually glistened. He'd swept enormous piles of dog hair into the trash and found a bin for everything. I decided to clean, too. I took the gorgeous, dead Mother's Day roses from the dining room table and threw them out the back door, but instead of complying, the rose petals scattered in arcs around me on the floor halfway between outside and in, where they were meant to go and where they weren't. Instead of sweeping them up I took a picture and then left them there. They were beautiful.