This morning, I sat down at my usual place at the kitchen table for coffee and quiet reading. As I shifted my weight in my chair, I felt something unusual under my right foot. I hoped it was a chunk of Maya's food - she takes a few pieces of her food at a time under the table and eats each piece slowly - and not something worse. I peeked under my chair with apprehension. I was wrong on both counts.
It was a screw.
This wasn't the first time I had found one under my chair. Every few months, a screw on the underside of my chair works its way loose and falls to the floor. As soon as I find it, I get a philips head screwdriver, replace it, and then I check everyone else's chairs. The last thing any of us need is for one of us to fall off our chair while sitting at the kitchen table.
Here's an interesting fact about this screw issue: my chair is the only one at the table that ever has loose screws.
Here's another interesting fact about this screw issue: After picking up the fallen screw this morning, I turned my chair over and discovered that I was down to my last screw - and it was loose, connected only by the tip, as though held there by some mysterious magnetic field. I have no idea what happened to the other two screws.
I shook my head and laughed at the obvious connection between the chair and my life: I am feeling a whole lot like my chair these days. Like I'm missing a few screws, one is lying on the floor beneath me, and my last screw is ominously loose.
This week has been crazy hectic. My son played tennis in a tournament that ended on Sunday. Another one started on Monday and ended today. He left ninety minutes ago with his father for yet another tournament that begins tomorrow and ends on Sunday. And next Tuesday night, they will leave again for a statewide tournament that begins on Wednesday and ends next Sunday. And I neglected to mention that on Sunday and Monday nights, Daniel's doubles partner slept here at our home.
My daughter has had driver's ed this week, four hours a day, beginning on Monday, ending today. That schedule will resume next week. Plus she had a sleepover, a visit to the orthodontist, the library, a bead shop (she makes jewelry), a yarn shop (she is learning to knit), and several trips to the gym.
Supermarket. Laundry. Cooking. Giving the dog antibiotics after she got her teeth cleaned. Three large boxes of homeschooling material that arrived in the mail yesterday that I have yet to open and evaluate. I was invited to teach a journaling class a couple of weeks from now. I was thrilled - but then I found out today that I can't do it. Someone dear to me is undergoing minor surgery and guess who has to be the driver back and forth and oversee the early recovery period??? And that's just the stuff I can remember at the moment.
Then there is the emotional stuff that gets shoveled my way. The complaints - "you never do what I want to do." The accusations - "you like him/her/them more than you like me." The demands - "make my hunger and itchiness and pain and loneliness and fear go away." The suspicious inquiries- "who was that you were talking to/texting/emailing?" The misunderstandings - "I thought you were going to be here/ be there/ do this for me, but you didn't."
Not to mention my own emotional stuff. The yearnings. The longings. The questions. The doubts. The anger. The resentment. The hunger. The mental and intellectual and spiritual dehydration. And the OVERWHELMING urge to walk away from all of this. Tonight. For at least six months. Gone in sixty seconds. Without a trace.
Voices, other people's persistent voices, echo in my ear:
This is your life; you chose this. Suck it up and do it.
This is the only moment you have; enjoy it.
Be grateful for how great your life is.
Be contented with what you have.
Think of others before yourself.
It could be worse.
Then MY voice kicks in:
It could be a lot better.
I am desperate for a minimum of five days away - alone. Desperate.
When will these people take the initiative and take care of themselves?
Yes, this is my life. When will I be brave enough to live it the way I really want to?
Why am I the ONLY one whose chair has two screws when everyone else's has four?
Like I said, I'm down to my last screw - and it's loose.
I need your help, dearly beloved reader. Please send suggestions for how to spend not five days, but five hours of free time. Help!