With My Eyes Closed
I think the worst part of my day is the time between when I get in bed and when I finally fall asleep. In part because the day never feels finished, and in part because I'm not ready for it to be tomorrow, when I'll have to go back to the office. And, in part, because where my mind will go when there's nothing to focus it can be unsettling--panicking about the fact that I'm going to die some day, maybe a long time from now, maybe soon, or maybe this will even be the last time I close my eyes, and what would that mean, and how many things have I left undone, and...
I do what I can to avoid giving myself the time to obsess, lying there with my eyes closed. I try to wait until I'm exhausted, knowing that I'm not doing myself any favors. Or I force my mind into stupid, repetitive patterns until I finally slip away. ("Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas... no, Arizona, Arkansas, California, start over, that's cheating.")
Sometimes, instead, it's flights of fancy. When Juliette isn't shifting positions and the kids are quiet and the dog isn't licking himself, I can convince myself that I'm back in my old college dorm room, or the room at my mom's old house, or the one at my dad's old house. I'll never be in those rooms again except in my head, at night with my eyes closed.
But lying there, when I'm in the right frame of mind, I can feel the presence of different walls just beyond where I can feel the sheets and blankets against my skin, and if I stretch out I'll feel the spot on the wall where my friend cracked the plaster with my head back when in middle school. Or if the window is open, the midnight breeze might have just stirred a basketball net and riffled the leaves of a tree full of beer cans.
Sometimes in my mind's ear I can hear the hollow "ca-chunk" of the door handle leading out of the dorm lounge. I can feel the prickle of dry oak leaves in the soles of my bare feet as I carry a load of laundry from from my mom's front door out and down to the laundry room. And it pains me that I will never, ever hear or feel those things again. Sometimes I wish I were still back there, and I wonder, lying there trying to fall asleep, if maybe I'll wake up to find myself with a pile of homework on the floor and class in ten minutes.
It's happened to me before that I've been in the middle of a dream and felt myself start to wake up, and desperately tried to hang on and keep the life I'm in from evaporating. I remember dreaming about a girl, once, a beautiful girl who I loved and who loved me, and as I started to rise back into the conscious world we both cried, knowing that it would be over soon--I felt numb for a while after I woke up.
Sometimes, when I'm lying with my eyes closed, I wonder--as I'm sure everyone does--whether dying would be like that, like just waking up into a different life. And it seems nice to think that way sometimes, to think that I wouldn't just stop and cease to be. Except that then all the joys of this life--tickling Jason and hearing him scream with laughter, the smile Juliette and I shared just after we'd been married, making faces with Eva, hell, even laughing at the sheer horrendousness of my dog's flatulence--would all have been mere imaginings, and how could I ever get over that? I can't imagine even wanting to.
Lying awake, with my eyes closed, I ponder and panic and come to no conclusion, no resolution. Eventually I do fall asleep, though I don't know how. It gets late, and somehow I trick my mind into ignoring itself.
Albuquerque, Boston, Charleston, Des Moines, Chicago (come back to that the next go-round, or is that cheating?), Edmonton (can I use a Canadian city?), France (not a city), Grand Rapids, Home (a place, maybe, a state of mind, a memory, a . . .
The Littlest Pirate
Lately we've been feeling like Eva has been looking bigger. Older and more grown up, yes, but actually physically larger, too. It makes sense, considering how much she eats--her meals are often larger than Jason's, and she eats just about anything.
It came as a bit of a surprise, then, to be reminded just how small she really is, when at Jason's party she was by far the smallest baby there. And that despite being one of the oldest.
I guess Juliette and I just make little babies. They seem to be turning out well otherwise, though, so we're fine with that. And I suppose it's nice that there's less strain on the arms this way.
Jason got to help his mom make the cupcakes for his birthday party on Saturday. I imagine that it won't be too terribly long before he stops wanting to help do anything--in any case, when it happens it won't feel like much time has passed--but for now he's still young enough that being a "helper" is a treat.
Juliette put some cherries in my lunch the other day, and I had fun spitting them into the garbage can by my desk.
It's kind of an odd thing, having my wife make my lunch for me. Nice, but odd. The feeling of opening a lunch bag and discovering what's inside is certainly a familiar one, but it's not one I've had regularly in quite a long time.
I've heard people say that all men want to be mothered, that we all just want to be boys again. I don't know to what degree this is true for me, but the possibility that it is true at all is something that I find a bit troubling. Perhaps I'm overthinking things.
Cracks and Shadows
Lately I've been really drawn to more minimalist images. Just lines, textures, shadows, curves, a pure aesthetic that doesn't really have a deeper meaning or tell a story. Except that everything tells a story. A patched crack in an asphalt road, cracked again right through the patch. A story of age and wear and, I suppose, futility. But there's no context; this could be anywhere.
Truth be told, it's cracks like that that are one of the biggest reasons we want to move out of our neighborhood. But that's a different story.