There are piles of paperwork overtaking the entire surface of my desk at work. I regard them daily… they’ve always been there, regardless of the desk, regardless of the job. All manner of detritus piled up all over my kitchen counters. Heaps of laundry, clean yet unfolded on the couch, piles of laundry dirty and waiting in the basement. Piles of doghair in tumbleweed formations accumulating in distant corners.
Piles of things running through my brain, all the time, all day long.
A friend recently asked me, looking over my desk area at work, “Doesn’t everything have a place?” I stared at her like she had two heads, so foreign is this concept to me. Who assigns these spaces? How do I know where they are? This is why my candles live with my slowcooker, next to the caulking gun and a bunch of tablecloths. This friend has her act together. To step foot in my house in its current state would likely cause spontaneous combustion of her eyeballs.
I find patches of time to take on these piles. Tiny slivers carved out of crazy days of full time motherhood and full time teaching. I run the vacuum between the basketball games. I pile the toys in the toy room. I ignore the laundry couch. I rub red a patch of worry at the base of my neck, between my collarbones. I fret over how I’m going to get to x and y while still trying to handle z. I try to solve an impossible math equation that will always require there being more than one of me, more than one of my husband. The dog throws up a pile of paper towels that she got out of the trashcan. I spray a patch of resolve on the carpet and swear under my breath. I lash out at the dog. My husband. The kids. He lashes back. The worry patch grows.
I wonder if life will ever feel less frantic. If I’ll ever have space and time to breathe. And, if someday I find that space and time, I’ll want desperately to have my present day piles back, likely having traded them in for piles of a different (but still stressful) nature. I wonder if future me will think about present me with sadness, or resentment, for all the things I mismanaged…for all the shit I didn’t get done… for all the moments I missed by trying. I can see future me being rather bitchy… the way present me regards past me and my silly fascination with registering for things like matching towels, crystal punch bowls and bread makers when I got married almost 17 years ago.
I want to talk to future me… to yell at her, really. I want to tell her to put her goddamn feet up and remove her fingers from her neck. I want to tell her that I’ve always done the best I can, until I can do better. I want to tell her to go easy on me.
And, I want to remind her that some of the most brilliant, most beautiful souls have the messiest piles.