What if, I do all this cleaning out of material possession, body, and spirit, and I am left with nothing to do. Maybe I will create the vacuum that gets filled by a force of nature. Maybe. Maybe the things, the projects, the people, the causes that I was passionate about through my life or even last week, will re-assert themselves so strongly that I will have no question about what comes next. But this morning I looked at my clean desk and my ordered files. I've created a place where I can go to work, and inside my brain the infant screaming says there is nothing. Nothing that I can do there; nothing that I may do there. I must be content with that feeling for awhile -- I have given myself no task to be busied by with the intention of letting nothing proceed. And yet, I am irrationally afraid of nothing. In part this is the person who is mourning a loss that goes deeper than she imagined. I have committed myself to this hell of recovery from grief, not fully realizing that . . . . not fully realizing anything.
And yesterday, the project manager, from the oil spill remediation that continues to keep my mother's estate in limbo and me working at and for the estate, called. Although the remediation work may be coming to a close, the neighbors from hell are making more demands of the insurance company. This is not my fight and not something I need to deal with, but it can continue to delay the close of the work, the restoration of the property, and the sale of the house. More delay could be another year living with the estate. And this morning, all I could think about was wanting to get out! I've worked on the estate, for my family, for 2 years now. And all I want to do is to let someone else take over. I spoke to my attorney and he urged me to stay -- well, of course. I spoke to my sister who channelled the lawyer in our conversation. Yes. Stay. It may only be a little while longer. This was the estate that was expected to close before 2009 was finished. And surely it would be done before 2010 closed when I was struggling to remember to write checks to keep the lights on. There is another water test to be done next week. If it comes back regulation clean, it will signal the beginning of the end of the project. If the neighbors are going to make more demands, that will be the time. If their demands stall the restoration of the property, I will get out. If the water comes back unclean, I will get out. If I cannot see the end of the tunnel here by September 1, I will get out. Let my brother earn his share.
I was driving on Monroe street the other day, the street where a friend was hit last summer as he road his bike to work (and now I doubt that it was Monroe Street and that he was riding to work). Nonetheless, he was hurt and for awhile his family, his community worried deeply. The other day, I sat at a stop sign, saw a bike rider, and tears sprung into my eyes. Fragile, fragile, life form. Exposing yourself to death. And once dead, you don't get to come back.
I read back over these days last year and there were signs, small ones to be sure, but signs that went without action. There was notice -- I wrote about them. We could have acted on them. Sooner. More intensely. But we had no idea how close we were to death. That's just it. The bike rider doesn't see the person opening her car door, or the driver making the illegal turn. David and I did not see that small issues -- tiredness, loss of appetite -- were not only notable, but the only flashing lights were were going to get. And once dead, you don't get to come back.
And here I live cleaning files from the 30 years of our lives together, cleaning boxes of manuscripts and lesson plans, throwing out old briefs from interesting cases and bills and receipts from work on houses that I no longer own. And do it all with the faith that once purged and orderly, some light will flow in and I will be able to rebuild life.
The constant dredging up of memory, experience here, this exercise in extreme self indulgence, is more of the same. The typewritten mirror of the paper work I engage in each night. I don't know how not to do it. I know that I must do it. I am irrationally afraid that when I finish the work, when I am empty, cleaned out, orderly, and have not a single syllable to type, that I will be a blank. I will truly have nothing. This work, which I drive myself to do and which I feel the deep need to do, may be all that sustains me, all the keeps the life that I and we have lived here. When it is neatly filed, will I be finished? Finished? What does that mean?
Am I Penelope weaving Laertes' burial shroud? That woman wisely picked a task that was totally useless -- weaving and unraveling -- whereas I edit and clean. Odysseus came home. David will not.
These are the thoughts of a wild and crazy woman tonight. They could be read as the ravings of a mad woman. They are my own total indulgences. Years ago, at ReCherChez, we talked constantly about self-indlugent art. Although I entered into the discussion and gesticulated wildly, I had so little idea of when my own work crossed the line. I had no idea of the uses and dangers of crossing the line. And no clue as to which side of the line art was to be found. Self-indlugence was bad. Bad, bad, bad. But I cannot think of one picture, one book, one poem that lacks the indulgence of the artist.
I still could not explain self-indulgence and art, but I can point to my own crossing of the line. Here. Here. HERE. I am swimming in an ocean of indulgence.
On mundane notes, I was a better mother for Julia today. She had more therapy today and less of me, which was not a bad thing. She tried a bit to please me although she forgot about it later in the day. After almost two weeks of doing the "morning parade" instructions, she is doing it better. When I write the instructions in a messy way, she erases my instructions and writes them over again. She is taking charge of this exercise which is what I wanted.
Julia drew a cover for her summer reading journal today with Ellen, one of her therapists. I am ever so grateful that these young women have talents that I lack. Ellen worked with Julia with pastels for the cover, coaching Julia when to blend the colors, how to erase, when to use outlining. More, that I didn't hear. When it was finished, Ellen sprayed the cover with hairspray to fix it. So much I could not do for Julia.
The picture is of a T-Rex in a yellow dress sitting under a tree and reading a red book to her dinosaur friends. Julia is the T-Rex, and her therapists, her friends as she calls them, are the other dinosaurs. I will take a picture.