Why is it that when I try to do something, say writing, Claire decides it's time for a conversation? How come, said daughter, doesn't go to her father with news of her scratchy throat? He can practice his saxophone for two hours straight without one interruption; I sit down to write for twenty minutes and you'd think I had left the family for another life far, far away. Tuscany, anyone?
Okay, so I've moved to the living room and Michael walks in, like right now, and says so sweetly, "Remember this shirt, honey?" and turns to show me two green handprints on the back of his white t-shirt, with child-like drawings of saxophones on the front; a Claire masterpiece from some years back. Am I upset with my kid and husband for wanting to engage in conversation with me? Not at all, except when I'm writing.
Recently, Dad moved into our guest room, which for many years has been my writing room, or as I fondly refer to it, my studio apartment. All my stuff is up there; files, books, notes stuck to my bulletin board, big sheets of paper taped to the closet door for me to write on. Am I feeling put out? Displaced feels more like it. It's time to re-arrange and find a new writing space for myself.
I'm a writer. For better or for worse, this is what I do. But when I say, I'm writing. I'll be with you in a little bit, my family doesn't always get it. It's not their fault. I can be wishy-washy; I need to be clearer. Stating what I need without feeling like I'm being not nice is a daily practice. Can you say, co-dependent?
It's not about the room, although believe me, I'm going to find a new one. But for now, the dining room table has been working out fine. It's more about being willing to value my work and claim my space. Ding ding ding.
I was going to write about my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Aiosa, and her glossy black hair and the way the tiny white flakes of dandruff stuck to her dark clothes. I was going to write about her smile, the gap between her two front teeth, the way she taught us French, writing long white sentences in her elegant cursive on the blackboard.
I'll start here, then write what I remember.