Strawberry Cheesecake cookies

It’s like that time a friend suggested I try edibles to alleviate my insomnia, but the baker of the homemade treat had miscalculated the amount of THC by a factor of 10. Not only did the edible not help with my insomnia, but it spun me out for hours and had the effect of turning the inside of my head into an IMAX screen upon which every single thought transformed immediately into a movie unfolding in this mental theater until rows and rows and columns and columns of flickering boxes of imaginings stretched out in all directions. I couldn’t move and was only saved by croaking a plea to Siri to call Bobby, so I could alert my husband that his wife was accidentally tripping balls upstairs and he should come hold her and pet her head till the effects subsided. 

Typically my thoughts don’t manifest quite so intensely, but the experience wasn’t wholly surprising – my brain tends to flip through thoughts, striking and rebounding on and off various topics OH GOD THE NEWS EVERYTHING IS AWFUL WHAT MORE CAN I DO ALSO I NEED TO TAKE CARE OF MY PEOPLE AND MY JOB IS FULL OF TASKS I NEED TO WANT TO DO IDEAS TO IMPLEMENT RIGHT AFTER I GET SOME EXERCISE UGH MY POOR BODY WHY DO I NEGLECT IT AND ALSO THE BILLS AND ALSO I HAVE NOT SURFED OR WRITTEN OR MEDITATED OR REACHED OUT TO FRIENDS AND NO WONDER I FORGET ABOUT THE FOOD ON THE STOVE AND THE OPEN TABS ON MY LAPTOP OR TURN ON THE WRONG STREET WHERE WAS I EVEN GOING.

The past few weeks and the upcoming months affirm that whatever slowing down the pandemic caused, my life is fully back in pre-COVID swing, full of visitors, events and travel. To complain about my life would suggest a lack of self-awareness that I do not have; truly, everything that matters is either very good or at least good enough for now. Nonetheless, I find myself some evenings relieved to see the clock reach 9 p.m. as that means I can check out for the day, curl up with a book in pajamas in bed, without appearing to be suffering from depression-induced ennui. I’m fine, totally fine. 

I want a therapist, but the process of finding one is a marathon and I am not a runner and am going to need therapy for the process of finding a therapist at this rate. (American Health Care System 1, Savage 0) So instead I write.

I wrote last Wednesday night at writers group, a mostly weekly gathering with three friends who are also writers – we have been doing this for a decade! The prompt of the week came from a newsletter I subscribe to: “Write about the word you wish to embody. Where did you first learn it? What does it mean to you? Who does it allow you to become, what does it allow you to do?”.

Elongate

Oh how she wanted a drink the longing in her body in her chest in her throat desire like that for a lover hunger as if in that moment just before the kiss that you know will lead to hands on lower back hands unbuttoning hands sliding god she wanted that burn of whiskey sliding down her throat lengthening her strengthening her stretching her out into that lazy witty flirtatious place. Instead she ordered a mocktail and creme brûlée and cracked the caramelized top like the thinnest pane of glass and the sugary shards and richness satisfied enough. 

The night before, in another restaurant with another bar, drinking a different mocktail, eating mac and cheese, she was wishing she was having a beer or cider or cocktail like her husband, like her friend, but then she went to the restroom and remembered that time she’d puked in there and then started to recall all the restrooms in all the bars that she’d puked in and realized the puking from drinking had happened in too many bar restrooms to recall them all, and she went back and ordered french fries glad for the lesser vice.

For a while in junior high she’d wanted to be shorter than she was. She’d hit 5’6” by the time she was 12, one of the tallest kids in the class at the time, but that was as tall as she got and by high school she’d changed her wish to wanting green eyes instead of blue, black hair instead of blonde, to be long and cool and smoky like a cigarette that the rocker girls smoked but that always made her double over in a coughing fit.

A giraffe unfolding itself to stand, a cat stretching out a paw from bed to bat at a toy mouse, a snake rising up to say stay back or maybe try me, that was the elegance she desired, to be intriguing, sultry, not to be trifled with. To be able to reach the top shelf or pull herself over a wall without thinking more about either than she might about tying her shoe.

She would like to cast her mind like a fishing line or a bullwhip out into the world, her brilliance bringing closer those she wanted, her words slicing those she wished would stay away.

Tomorrow, she thought, tomorrow I will eschew the sugar and do the yoga and climb the hill and cultivate the brilliance and elongate my body and extend myself out into the world. 

Sometimes I think revealing the chaotic nature of my mind and the ongoing struggle to get life right might conflict too much with my hard-fought identity as a professional, together person – as in, should I be putting all these words where people I work with might read them? What will that mean for how they see me? And yet a person can be wholly successful and good at her job and full of maturity and wisdom and still find herself sometimes on a Sunday wanting nothing more than to stop cleaning, stop fixing, stop worrying, longing to stretch out on the couch with a book and crackers and jalapeño artichoke dip without the guilt of should should should. Maybe not the sort of stretch goal one is encouraged to articulate in an annual work plan, maybe not exactly the elongating I had in mind, but for today, it will have to do.