I spent my weekend camping — singing and ducking smoke beside a fire, walking on dewy grass, shivering our numbing feet into a freshwater stream, watching stars appear across the sky like tiny campfires, very far away, mirroring ours. I ate extremely organic pizza — “free-range pizza,” if you will — and crashed harder in a sleeping bag on the floor of a tent than I do in my own bed. I tried to bum ibuprofen off prepared-looking friends and, on Saturday morning, was pleasantly delighted to realize that I was thinking in words again — fun words, for the joy of it, with adjectives and everything.
I was really tired, last week.
Sometimes busy days creep up on you, early mornings and extra caffeine in hand, and sometimes you see them coming with binoculars but can’t head them off — you can only stare them down and hope they give in first. Late last week as I washed the dishes that had piled up in my sink, one light on in the house, refrigerator buzzing loudly behind me, the thought crossed my mind: “This is just like college.”
Reading fast like absorbing, researching, staying up late, waking up with a crick in your back and reaching for your glasses before you hit the alarm. Ignoring the end results and peeking at the process, looking at each step but not the staircase, because if you try to think of the whole stack of work laid out for you the exhaustion will win, and no one likes losing.
It surprises me, sometimes, how much I look back on finals weeks and frantic studying with fondness — there were biting headaches, yes, but there were also long talks over late dinners and things to be interested in, all around you.
Last week was like that for me — enough work to drown in, busy enough that I always felt one step behind schedule, but there was still time between and after and around, filling in the cracks. Letters and messages, a few songs I hadn’t heard before. The feeling of cutting into a fresh honeydew melon. The next Harry Potter book (eee!). Paint stains on the kitchen sink, new frames leaning against the walls. Swinging open my door when the scent of really good chili permeates the house.
It’s too simple to say that the things you focus on matter the most. It’s easy to get annoyed with Pollyannas — brightsiders — people who say that if only you’d look at the good things and be grateful, life would be a wonderful boat ride, or something. Headaches and heartaches and early mornings don’t just go away, and it’s simplistic to think otherwise. We’ve all had quite enough of that, I think.
Sometimes it’s just good to know that aching headaches and really good chili exist in the same universe, at the same instant.