Taking the Long Way

10 07 2007

 I have spent the last year reclaiming items, hobbies, persuasions that once defined who I was (these things made me proudly proclaim, “That is so me“). In high school and in college, I was known for subjecting the passengers in my car to musicians such as Ani Difranco (and I would correct their pronunciation when they called her “Annie”), Indigo Girls (um, “Strange Fire” anyone?), Beth Orton, Van Morrison, and anyone that inspired me to crank it up so loud that I couldn’t hear my own voice yelling the lyrics. Now that I am a wife, mother, teacher, grad student–all roles which grant me permission to consider myself an adult– I can’t remember what I like. These days, I drive a car with a mediocre stereo system and it doesn’t really matter because mostly I just listen to NPR news or Laurie Berkner (famous for “I feel crazy so I jump in the soup” at our house). Everything I say sounds tired and cliche, like I’ve heard it all before in a Cathy cartoon.

So when did my individuality dissipate? I think I threw it all up during the first three months of my pregnancy. The first two weeks of vomit in the Alabama heat looked like this:

There is a tree trunk on the ground next to the window. On top of the tree trunk is a white 13″ television with a VCR built in. On top of the television, Adam has placed a small fan that moves like a paranoid head turning from side to side. Relishing an orange popsicle, I am lying on an air mattress strategically positioned directly in front of the window unit in our bedroom, watching High Fidelity for the second time that morning. Occasionally, I lunge to the bathroom.

During that time, I was also devoted to “Felicity,” which played through on Oh! each afternoon. I would lie on our couch, the desires borne of Sex and the City stirred once again by this dramatic young woman’s romantic pursuits on the road to self discovery. I rarely, if ever, felt the need to analyze the culture I was swimming in. Every encounter with the world was purely experiential, every move I made was a reaction to some new obstacle. I was in awe of what was happening to my body, but so focused was I on my career and health insurance and picking out paint colors, balancing the check book, or being nice to my husband that I forgot to remember to think. Until last summer when I started grad school and my brain was painfully resurrected. So angst-ridden was I about all the time that I had wasted not thinking that I began to think 24-7… about everything.

Now, after all of that thinking, or in the midst of all that thinking, I am trying to reclaim that music, those films, the wonders that captured my attentions before I became a new person. I have found that I get to relive pieces of who I was as I was figuring out who I am by listening to 32 Flavors over and over again while driving real fast with the windows down I-85. I’m hoping that eventually I will become this very striking woman who wears really cool clothes because she doesn’t really give a shit. This woman drinks her coffee black and reads brilliant novels instead of watching television. She gets her news from NPR, writes emails that are succinct and full of wit, keeps a journal of all things thought provoking, and sleeps soundly. Occasionally, she curses, but she doesn’t apologize for it or look around and cover her mouth. At night she drinks tea at the kitchen table as she cruises poetry anthologies (for fun) with Bela Fleck jaunting in the background. She is content and polished, and there is a little bit of dirt under her finger nails because she is also a gardener.

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6 responses

11 07 2007
Lauren

…and then some.

I think we are halfway there. NPR? Check. Witty emails? Check. Cursing without remorse? Check, Check.

Missing you thoroughly

11 07 2007
whitreed

You are much wittier than I, my friend.

11 07 2007
Art

Whit,

I can relate to the loss of identity (from the father’s point of view). I walk into my daughter’s school and I am universally known as “Molly’s daddy.” Of course, when I visit my wife’s school, I’m “Mrs. B’s husband.” That’s why I like my classroom and Sun Belt. There people know me. But, I am not always sure that I know me.

12 07 2007
emmabolden

I can’t tell you how much this is how I feel. Well, except for the baby and the pregnancy. But with the vomitting. No, in all seriousness, except for the pregnancy and the baby, this does encapsulate how I feel right now — the need to recapture and to remember and develop and most of all become, damn it.
The one thing that woman does not have? Angry, evil eyebrows.
Or, if she does, they are somehow so awesome on her that it doesn’t matter.

12 07 2007
Approaching Lavender

I am still reclaiming, reliving, as evidenced by my desire to become a vinyl-spinning DJ. 39 hit me hard, but 40 has been a joy so far. You really won’t give a shit when you get to be my age, and you will still be a hot mama.

“I rarely, if ever, felt the need to analyze the culture I was swimming in. Every encounter with the world was purely experiential, every move I made was a reaction to some new obstacle.”: totally life before baby, in my mind.

From age 30 til now, I found ways to assert my individuality by the same means you mention. You are doing everything right, my friend, and then some…..

30 05 2009
“To fight aloud, is very brave” « both hands

[…] this venture two years ago, when Ruthie was only 18 months old. My third or fourth post, called Taking the Long Way, speaks to the way I feel now. And it occurred to me that my life is terribly, wonderfully […]

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