Why did I not hold you off a while longer?
I used to skip classes to spend hours penning ideas into notebooks–black coffee, toasted bagel to fuel my inspiration. I would stare out windows, at lovers walking down the street, and at old ladies on their raincoats on the transit bus that I took home for one shiny quarter. I would write and listen to music and daydream for hours.
“What will you do?” They asked.
“I’ll write,” I answered.
“What if your writing isn’t any good?” They replied.
“I’ll write better,” I stood my ground.
“Will you go to college?” They added.
“Why?” I asked.
Impassioned, impertinent, rebellious, alone against the world: Ah, that was me!
Eight years college. Twelve years high school teacher. Fourteen years wife. I learned to sacrifice writing for dollars and gold stars.
What if I let the house go? What if I stopped putting things back in their place? Started coming to work unprepared?
What if I got fired? If all I had to do was pen these lines?
I tell myself–being adult as I am–I don’t deserve to write at all until I’ve done my duty.
What you “do” if the first thing we ask a person we’ve just met.
I’m a teacher.
I’m a mother.
More meekly, I’m a writer.
When I tell people that they want to know if I’ve been published and whether I’ve written any books.
These responsibilities are endless.
What if I refused? Made unreasonable demands? Used my charm to get my way?
Would you tell me to be more mature?
What if I stopped cooking dinner? What if I really wrote every day? Really put in the time and let the muse take me even if it meant I wasn’t pulling my weight, wasn’t being my best in every way? Meant I missed appointments and forgot to pay my bills?
What if I lost track of time?
You tell me I must care, I must serve. I must work hard even if the reward is merely the satisfaction of having done my best work. I should put others before myself. I should volunteer more. Exercise more. Keep my house cleaner. Be a better parent. Stay in touch with old friends and make new ones if I can. Organize all the clutter. Be generous to my lover. Have a solution for every problem.
You make it so hard to write, sometimes.