Leigh and I stand in the kitchen on a late December day discussing at year’s end our successes and (perceived) failures of 2015. How could we transform our lives to better reflect our goals in the new year? For instance, in 2016, I intend to write the memoir I’ve been talking about and writing around for years. It is my number one priority. Now, how do I get there from here?
Leigh loves a list. She lives for a well organized life and a “normal” day. Please don’t ask the obvious question. While I spent my childhood playing soldier, spy, doctor, cop, robber, and cowboy, Leigh was busily organizing her desk as she played “office.” Otherwise, she was designing hutches for her rabbits and guinea pigs or hooking up her own phone.
She separates her days into “chunks” into which certain activities fall. Her grocery lists follow the aisles of the store we shop most often. These things make her fast and highly efficient. I wander the aisles of grocery stores “shopping.” Honestly, I do get home with much of what’s needed, but it’s slow going and I always forget something.
I keep the notepad handy, “I will do one thing today ________.” Leigh has a pad, too. It says, “Notes from the voices in my head.” I think these two pads say a lot about us. She keeps her many voices (ideas) in order with lists and drawings and boxes and you know, geometry. I grab hold of that single bone that is my one thing to do today and carry it everywhere I go so that I won’t forget that this memoir is my priority. Not just today, but every day. I can carry only one #1 priority in my head at a time. I’m doggish that way. Some might say bull doggish.
Despite all our notes and lists, though, life stops for no one. No matter our priorities, we must learn to roll with the punches. I’m lucky to be a writer as it requires so little (physical) baggage when it comes time to get on that plane to Dallas and go see my elderly parents. I can carry it to Asheville in a notebook or a laptop and write before or after appointments. I can even pull off the Parkway at an overlook and get in a good 45 minutes sitting in my truck. I simply cannot be burdened with more than that if my art is to be as portable as it must be.
Where my life feels cluttered and chaotic, strangely enough, is at home. Leigh and I agree on this. The less you have, the less you have to deal with when it comes time to get down to the work about which you are passionate. What do we do with the accumulated STUFF of life? The woman who loved to play “office” (I’m sure she meant boss as opposed to say, secretary) as a child gets very excited as she outlines what she plans to do differently in 2016. The child who played cowboy stares morosely out the window at the rain, wondering how to drive all those cattle in an orderly fashion through the omnipresent mud.
“How do you do a dance to make the rain stop?” I ask, not only for myself, but thinking of friends in AR and TX who are literally underwater right now. Leigh said, “Do it backwards.” “Ha!” I love her surprising quips that bring me to the surface laughing when I would drown in the doldrums. Immediately I had a thought about the un-rain dance as it applied to un-“stuffing.” But Leigh kept talking, driving home a point which began as a joke, while I was already writing a poem about the un-rain dance in my head.
(to be continued)