Melissa worked from home on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday- but she made herself get up and dress, all the way down to stockings and shoes. It helped tell her daughters, home for the school vacation that shattered routines and bedtimes in the early spring, that Mommy was working, and shouldn't be bothered for anything short of armed revolution in the streets. Just like in the office, she gave herself from 12 until 1 for lunch, so once she had prepared her own turkey sandwich and Diet Coke, she allowed herself a few personal moments on the computer.
Years ago, she made herself promise to write. "Write every day", she told herself, "no matter what. No matter what else you have to do, write something." She had been writing since she could remember. She didn't talk about it, or make a big deal of it- it was just a love that she told herself, 22 and full of certainty, she would not forget about.
Like a lot of promises, she hadn't managed to keep it. Events pressed, and weekend getaways stole her time, and then eventually the girls came, dulling her nerves and killing her senses. She kept the flame burning, dashing off paragraphs when she could, but it had become a weekly thing, ignored more often than honored. She tried to memorize scenes, committing to later reducing them to words. But she seldom followed through.
She stared at the screen, remembering what it was like at soccer. The little clots of parent groups, deep in conversation. She thanked God regularly that her daughters didn't seem to have social issues. They blended easily, rich girls and poor, popular girls and not. But Melissa stood apart, never having more than a sentence or so to say. The lines were clear, like you drew them in the grass. There were popular moms, and Melissa was not one.
It could not have been clearer, she typed. The house was as quiet as it ever got, bangs and thumps from upstairs, the echoed speech of the twelve year old talking on the phone, then the footfalls of someone coming down the stairs. Behind her the noise escalated.
Her nine year old had turned the TV on, loudly declaring as she did so, "Mom-MEEE! Can I watch some TV?".
Melissa would usually insist they ride their bikes or do something outside, but a driving, still cold rain and pressing work obligations had trapped them all indoors on this formless Tuesday. She still remembered the delicious freedom of school vacations, warm days reminding you of the summer that beckoned. Adulthood meant hammering those dreams down, one week blending into the next, a world without the seasons and textures of school life.
"Sure," Melissa said, distracted now, clicking save and closing the word processor. There wasn't going to be any more work done on that, she thought, wondering when exactly it was she sold her twenty two year old self down the river.
published 21 March 2012