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My aching bladder wakes me up every day, usually before dawn. This morning I woke up hot and smothery and threw off the covers in irritation, then pulled them back over Jasper, careful not to draw them up any higher than his breastbone. None of my kids cares overmuch for blankets, and even on the coldest night they’ll kick them off furiously over the slightest offense. I figure this is a good thing. I imagine it makes them hardier, less susceptible to minor illnesses. It’s funny, because I was always the opposite. Still am. I wanted six covers pulled up under my nose and if it truly cold, I’d take another one and bunch it up around my head. My mother used to come into my room and say, “You’ll suffocate!”
I made my way jerkily to the bathroom, stiff and off balance, trying to avoid Duff’s big, threatening shoes, the bridge trolls of our bedroom, which are never in the same place twice. By the time he gets up, he can see them in the half-light. But at 3:30 or 4 or 5, the room is still as dark as sleep. As I walk I think to myself, I could have died in my sleep last night. There is not much sense in this and I’m not feeling any fear. I confirm to myself that it still seems like the best way to go. I love to sleep. I love to nap. Since it is Sunday, I decide to stay awake now so I can nap later.
As I sit on the pot, I think about what I should write. I’m drawn to the personal essay form but I’ve been struggling with it whenever I try. Maybe I should give it up. Then it occurs to me that I’ve been writing so much and for so long in the diary that I’ve trained myself to this form. To a lesser but not insignificant extent, and for the same reason, I am comfortable with writing short articles and profiles. Could do them in my sleep. Of course it will be harder to write a personal essay, which is about ten times longer and way more formally demanding. Duh. If I work harder at essay-writing, it will get easier.
You’d think this would make me feel better, and it does. But somehow I end up thinking maybe I should just let go of all this. Give up on this idea of being a writer and just be whatever else you are. A housewife. An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me. So much of my self-worth is wrapped up in this fantasy that someday, someday, I will create something meaningful. Maybe it is ruining me for everything else. I think of the long-suffering loved one sitting alongside the deathbed, whispering, “Just let go!”
Despite the idea, I come downstairs and fire up the computer and start writing in the dark. If only I could make myself get up early every day and write. I can get a lot done in the dark. I write three paragraphs and then I hear Jasper fussing. He can’t find me. I crawl back into bed beside him and spend five minutes trying to get the covers just right. Then I fall asleep, and dream that there is a book with my name on it that I didn’t write, and I am ashamed.