It’s Monday night and I am finally getting a chance to sit in my recliner and do nothing more than just ignore the television and think about what I am going to write about. I have a few…a bunch….no ideas. My mind is a kaleidoscope of images, of memories.
It’s been a lovely day. A lovely friend of mine, a fantastic colleague earned the Teacher of the Year award and it was thrilling to sit in the back row and when her name was called, rise to my feet and give her a standing ovation. She is a great teacher, a person who gives everything of herself. She truly earned every award, every acknowledgement of her excellence. And I am so happy for her. Because she really is someone who is an excellent person who should be acknowledged for everything she has done.
Tonight, I am settled deep into the warmth of my chair and embracing this contentment. An old friend from college contacted me and I love the sense of walking down the corridors of twenty-year old memories and remembering the long talks we used to have. Michelle and I walked through many experiences together and, just a couple of weeks ago, I looked for her on Facebook, through Google. I didn’t find her. But she found me. And we have started reconnecting. The tenuous sense of time and distance can stretch, pull me close and help me, even briefly, relive the moments. The times we sat on the wall outside our college’s English department and smoked cigarettes and talked. About literature. About life. About teaching and our classes and our students.
An hour ago, my husband did the Cross-Over celebration in which he welcomed four new boys into his Boy Scout troop. Part of the ceremony was to give the boys their new ranks which included inviting the boys to give their mothers a special pin. But one boy’s mother is currently serving away on deployment. He had no way of acknowledging his mother and her support of him moving into the Scouts, of earning his first rank. But my husband, even as much as he might drive me crazy, showed incredible compassion and thought. As the boy pinned his mother’s pin on his father’s lapel, my husband took a moment and explained to the congregated parents, siblings, and fellow scouts that the boy’s mother was away. And Pat asked the scouts to stand and salute the boy and, in doing so, his mother. And then Pat thanked the boy’s mother for her service, and the boy and his father for their sacrifice and support of his mother as she served her country.
Tears slid out of my eyes and I caught them on the edge of my fingers and pretended that I wasn’t crying but was dealing with allergies. All of my strength, all of my bulldogged invulnerability just crumbled under my husband’s caring words and absent bravado. And as the boys rose, I emotionally rose with them. And as their hands curled into the proper salute and their arms made the proper angles, I quietly sat in my seat and felt that surge of pride.
Not just for any one person (okay…maybe for Pat because this was so damn nice) but for the entire moment.
This is the collection of my life. This movement from one joyful memory to the next. And interspersed on this journey, I will walk on stepping stones that are surreptitiously covered in barbed wire. As I go through my journey of weight loss, I purge out old demons, old whispers of mistakes I have made and ghosts of words spoken over years and decades that still like to flay my skin and make me second guess everything.
I have my bad days. My sad days. My days when I would rather hide in bed or just get in my car and drive to the horizon while binging on pizza and ice cream and Fig Newtons. I have days when I want to hide in my recliner and play stupid computer games and avoid the pressuring exhaustion that bangs on my head and reminds me that I need to grade.
I am not perfect. I am not always happy.
But right now. Right at this moment, while the characters on Bob’s Burgers shout and do horrible, bad poetry readings that make me shudder deep within, I am content.
I am behind on my grading. But I have great activities tomorrow while I will circulate around my classroom and meet with students and grade and edit with them. I will always behind on my grading. I will always grade.
I will not always be content.
But I am content right now.
A year ago, my life changed. For the better when I didn’t know that my life needed to be changed for the better.
And now, another year has almost elapsed. And the times have changed a little more and I stare ahead at the uncertain future awaiting me.
I need to register for my writing class.
I need to start attending the poetry workshops held downtown every other Monday.
I need to continue to absorb the heat my recliner is reflecting back on me and just focus on the contentment that I am feeling.
Because, right now, I am content.
And that is enough.