Reading has always been hard for me. I love books, but it takes me forever to get through them, and soon after the story ends I can't seem to remember any of the details. The names, places, and situations escape me, leaving only the essence of the tale behind. The same, often times, has been true of my day-to-day life.
About 10 years ago, I started keeping a day planner. Rather than fill it up with appointments in advance, I used it to jot down what I did during the day, for fear that I would never remember. I kept the entries brief: the name of the person I'd had dinner with, the name of the book I was reading or the the movie I went to see, the general mood of the day—"cloudy; cranky."
The tradition came to a screeching halt about the time I had my son. After four days of labor, an exhausting surgery, weeks of recovery, and endless feedings, I couldn't bear the thought of keeping track of those days: Couch. Boob. Couch. Boob. Couch. The repetition was maddening, the routine exhausting.
Since then, I've been pondering the age old question: What am I going to be when I grow up? Despite struggling with the topic for 35 years, I thought that by writing about it
I would somehow find the answer faster. Not so. In fact, putting it out there has only magnified the pressure I put on myself to find that one true thing.* This year, this summer, I've felt lost.
And then September came. "September," I said to a friend, "is my January. I adore it." September marks new beginnings: a new school year, a new season (my favorite!), and the pinnacle of the magazine year. The mother load in the mailbox was more than a girl could ask for to keep busy for the month. But, this September brought with it even more.
On my nightstand, I had amassed a pile of books that I'd back-burnered, borrowed, or bought for myself, and September was my month to power through them. It was a lofty goal for me, but I was determined. And then, just before the first of the month, the postman delivered a special package—a copy of my friend Christina Rosalie
's new book, A Field Guide to NOW
, and I found myself lost once again. This time by choice.
Her prose is thick like honey. Every sentence, a treat to savor and enjoy for what it is: a collection of words so sweetly strung together, so honest and true, that to swallow them too soon would be a shame.
I wanted to be that good friend that devoured the book in one day and reported back about how amazing I thought it was—and how I wasn't sure I would be able to look her husband in the eye at the coffee machine at work anymore, now that I knew so much about him... But I didn't. Truth be told, I couldn't. I would find myself reading a couple of pages and before I knew it, my mind would wander to my own life and the things I dearly value. I pondered the days I felt I'd lost—either from lack of memory or lack of drive—and made a decision to make a change. To focus on living in the moment.
I ordered a set of the most perfect, pocket-sized notebooks
and picked up where my planners had left off two and a half years ago. From there, I committed to engaging in life in a way that would warrant the honor of being written down. I discovered new places to visit
just down the road from home. I reveled in Monday night library jaunts and Saturday afternoon dates with my son. I popped over, unannounced, to friends houses and whisked them away on unexpected adventures. I took a step back from the chaos and consternation that comes from building a new house, and watched from afar as my amazing future emerged from a pile of dirt.
Thirty days later, I feel just a little bit closer to the world around me. I know that the notes I've kept will help me remember this month for years to come and will help me to create the next great gift (like the one I made for Logan for our second anniversary: capturing the milestones of our life together on custom library card catalog cards
housed in an antique wooden recipe box.)
I've yet to finish Christina's book. There's no rush, especially since I'll likely forget the details from it that have so enriched my September days. I've yet to figure out where I and in turn, this blog, are headed. What I do know, is where I am now. I'm on my couch—yes, that very same couch—sitting next to my husband, writing what I know and what I care about. My guess is that everyone involved is just fine with that.
*Spoiler alert: There is no one true thing. At least not for me.