My family has a running joke we started on vacation a couple years ago. Sitting on the porch of a marsh front house in Ocracoke, my dad asked my mom if she’d remembered to bring his swim trunks. “Of course,” she said. He asked about several other items and she nodded each time. “When Mama packs for a trip, there are no gaps,” she assured us.
So, now, we’re constantly shouting “no gaps!” when we embark on one of my mother’s carefully laid plans. She plans like a goddamned machine.
I don’t. I mean, I have days — productive days I call them. Sweep my bedroom floor, do laundry, pay parking tickets before their price doubles. That last one happened earlier this week, if you can’t tell, I’m still proud of it.
But I’m generally scattered. Clothes everywhere. Pens, paper, scraps of notes everywhere. Four-five coffee cups growing mold in my office. Little pieces of almost-but-not-quite sprinkled throughout my daily existence.
I get tired sometimes. Today, at around 8:30 a.m. I thought, “Jesus, I’m burned out.” I’ve been working out more, etc., etc., but this was a different kind of exhaustion. Sometimes my brain gives up on me and it whispers quietly, “Don’t you want to take a nap.”
I want to be everything I can ever possibly be. Do you know what I mean? I want to be a brilliant writer all of the time and also a fitness enthusiast of sorts and then at the same time very zen but a little bit sexy and dangerous and mostly just kinda drunk.
And that can be exhausting.
What I’m trying to get across is this: I feel every second of every day. I always have. I used to hide from this. Now I embrace it and, often, end up asking too much of it. Because sometimes the clock ticks, here’s the next minute, and I don’t know where I am or who I want to be.
I fall into boredom, I feel uninspired (as I did today), I choose mindless activities over ones that require effort and I hope I’ll light a fire under my ass tomorrow.
Sometimes I even wonder if I’ve created a messy, unorganized persona for myself, just to be lazy. Or just to have a persona. A self-deprecating joke on the docket. The piles of plastic water bottles in my car suggest that I am, at my core, a true slob (and a detriment to the environment to boot.)
But who knows, the mind is a powerful thing.
I long for no gaps. I don’t like dead air. Right? Don’t they say that on the radio. I don’t like the confusion of feeling, the surge of uncertainty associated with every other thought.
And then I think of myself in college, collapsing onto a bench, crying into my phone, feeling so sad, angry, and alone for no apparent reason at all.
I would have killed (probably, actually because I had terrible anger issues) for my life today, sitting at my dining table, drinking a pint glass-sized vodka soda, telling my dog to stop barking so I can start writing an article about Charleston’s metal detecting club. Because that’s all this moment is — a sum of those very real moments. There’s nothing dire simmering beneath the surface. Dead air gives me space to empty my dishwasher.
What kind of gaps am I looking for anyway?
The answer to most questions of this nature is ten deep breaths, a glass of water (sans vodka), and some words from someone who loves you. My mom recently sent us a card telling us how proud she is of us. Sissy got a new job. We’re keeping the animals alive. We’re happy.
And the stirring and the shaking and the feelings I have, all the good and bad and confusing and maybe-this-is-pointless-what-in-the-actual-hell-am-I-doing ones are OK. And there are a shit load of gaps. But they are one day, one week, one long string of moments. They’re just a blip in time.
My mom knows that. My dad knows that. They’ve helped me create this messy, super-feeling, beautiful life. Time passes, we heal, we wonder why we ever worried in the first place. Those disparate pieces fall into place. No gaps.