It’s January. I can’t get warm. Under my clothes that extra flesh of motherhood clings to my bones. I’ve grown used to looking at myself in the mirror and seeing my naked face there. When I pick up my husband from work, the bruise-like shadows under his eyes make me grimace. He is tired. I am tired. Two time zones away, my dad’s skeleton becomes more pronounced under his skin.
I’m hibernating, watching the world from the living room window. At night I put on my headphones and walk in the cold. My body cries for movement, stretching. Nighttime does not relax me. I am rereading books I read ten years ago, the obsession threatens to consume me again. I can’t get warm. I write these sentences in the bathtub. I am hiding in the bathroom from my kids, my husband, my cats. I cannot make myself care about cleaning or cooking balanced meals. I could barely eat today.
I want to stretch out on a couch and read for hours. We forfeited our couch when we moved and don’t have the money to buy another one. There are hardly any overhead lights in our apartment. We can’t afford floor lamps either. I make myself run the vacuum and I hear the satisfying crackle of Wheat Thins becoming dismembered from the suction. I think back to the days of my first job, fast food, and how I loved washing the greasy kitchen cooking utensils, particularly the bacon press. I used to stand at the drive-thru window and look out at the train tracks nearby and dream about life.
I was waiting for my life to begin. I didn’t realize it already had. When you’re 16, people tell you your life has just begun, or sometimes they say your life hasn’t begun at all. But it’s not true. That’s 16 years worth of living. Baby, child, adolescent, teenager. At 16, a person stands on the cusp of adulthood. There’s so much living to be done before responsibility sets in, before you find yourself staring out a window thinking about the way life is going to be. Me, I’m twice the age I was when I got that first job and I’m still looking out windows, still dreaming. Still wondering what to be when I grow up. I’m 32.
I’m the heartbeat and the warmth. I’m the sternness and the tickle monster. I watch my boys sleep and I ache. My heart hurts from the depth of the love it contains. And the flow of sadness. It’s January and I can’t get warm. I’m 32. I feel like I’ve been here a long time.
(written 1/24/12, rediscovered today)