The Only Way Through

October 18, 2020

I wake up early, even though I’ve turned off my alarm, gone to bed at midnight, done breathwork in bed and thought, “This is it, my one chance to sleep in, and I will take it.”

It’s 6:30, and I open my eyes to my 7-year-old’s puppy breath on my face, the cat’s head burrowed under his hand.

She avoids him when he’s awake. He holds her too tight, his love too much for her. But when he sleeps, I often find her curled up at his feet, or nestled at his side, purring against his ribs. Sometimes I take a picture to show him in the day, to prove to him that she really does love him. That she knows he’s her safe place.

I lie there for a while with both of them draped across me, wrestling with knowing I need more sleep, and the draw of a dark living room, an empty couch, a candle and a cup of tea. I choose the tea.

Downstairs, the sun is barely rising. The sky is a blue-y grey with just a fleck of gold peeking over the back fence as I fill the kettle, my bare feet on the cold kitchen floor.

I haven’t written in weeks. I worry I’ve forgotten how. I’ve worried this before, so I know it isn’t true, and that the only way through is to write. Instead, I pick up my phone – pin breakfast nook ideas, shop for kitchen rugs, browse mid-century dining chairs and organic cotton sheets and flare jeans.

(They’ve made a comeback, but I never stopped wearing them. I have a theory that old ladies have old-lady hair because those wash-and-set dos were in fashion when they were 20, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t let go of what was in fashion when we were 20. My generation of old ladies will be visiting the salon every week for beachy waves.)

My laptop is on the edge of the couch, where I’m scrolling my phone, and it’s taunting me.

“Write,” it says.

“The kids will be up soon and another chance will be gone.”

And so, here I am: Sunday morning, the couch, the candle, the tea, the words.

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