Under certain circumstances, I love the night. Put me in front of a band, a play, music to dance to. Give me friends to dance with, drink with, share adventure with. The rules lessen after dark, as do inhibitions. The real becomes both more and less so.
Alternately, a warm fire and good book make the night a sanctuary. Too dark to be outside, too late to be productive – with the moonlight cloaking me, rocking me from reading time to dreaming time – then I love the night.
But when the dreaming leads to tossing, turning, thinking, worrying – that’s when darkness outside pervades my inside, driving me out of bed to the computer, where the words bang against my skull demanding release. And so I vent. And then in the daylight, clarity returns. The beauty of this place again awes me: the sky all bruised on one side and colored like a robin’s egg on the other, the light so pink and golden even the cows glow, reposed as if waiting for Van Gogh.
The emails stream in reminding that I’m loved, needed, have expectations placed upon me and are interrupted only by a need to actually work – “work” consisting of playing music and talking up Betty Chinn, Arcata Playhouse and the HARD FREEZE WATCH. This on top of the rare newspaper job in which autonomy is granted and creativity encouraged. So what if my student loan debt equals a year’s salary between the two? Only sheer desperation could trump the pleasure of doing work I love and making it matter – and I’m not there quite yet. (Key word: “quite.”)
Because things work out. They always work out. During the day I’m more cavalier about the people who have more and more worried about the people who have less. Why am I not baking cookies to hand out to the neighborhood? Why I am I not improving the mean streets of Manila? (Answer: Because taking care of the people to whom I’m already obligated demands all my energy.) The money issues continue to color my life no matter what the hour, but in the daylight I am better able to protect my mood.
I don’t know how things will work out, but they will. Chelsea will make her mistakes, struggle her way into adulthood and, at some point, find her way. I will continue to worry, convinced she’s ruining her life, despair at my inability to make her do the “right” thing or at least bribe her in the “right” direction, because I can’t help it. I’ll still love and feel pride in her, be thankful when she proves my worries wrong.
My life is never dull and with that curse comes the gamut of emotion. I will despair again, likely as soon as I check my bank balance (a good reason not to check my bank balance!) or find myself again drawing blood from my son’s small finger, but whatever natural flotation device powers my heart will kick in once again, lift me to the surface. Despite it all, I cannot stay down for long. (And hey, right now, both the bank balance and Nick’s blood sugar are fine.)
The gym helped my mood. Structured sweat followed by a hot shower and fluffy white towels – I hate to say it’s better than a gimlet (and sometimes, a cocktail is what’s called for), but burning off the stress beats drinking it away. I chopped onions and garlic, measured spices, made a garbanzo-based dinner everyone loved. Braved the icy rain to harvest some chard and oregano from the garden. People dream of a life like this (sans the icy rain, obviously). It is not easy to maintain, but the frame stands more solidly than I thought.
The replacement charger for my battery arrived recently. After months of being camera-less, I goofed around with color and shapes, completely amateurish and utterly lost in the flow of fun.
People are hurting. Many of us wake up at night and can’t get back to sleep because we’re worried about how we will do all that needs to be done. How we will get through the days and what it says about us when we’re not sure we can. We all have our own burdens to carry, but sharing helps. So does exercise and good food – and an appreciation for the colors of the sky.