27 May 2008

When your life is an over-stuffed suitcase, it's hard to find your pen.

A few weeks ago a blogger I read regularly disclosed casually that before she became a stay-at-home mom, she had been making six figures at her job. It wasn't something I had given any thought to, when I read people's blogs I tend to accept that I am reading about only a small part of their lives, and - unless our correspondence deepens - I rarely give much thought to those elements not represented on the blog. What's the point? They could be anyone, I could be anyone, the internet's illusion of anonymity is a big part of its appeal.

Still, when something like a person's income, or religion, or political conviction is revealed suddenly I can't help being a little startled. I can't help but wonder how different everything would be if I wasn't working two jobs, raising a family and anticipating adding grad school to the mix this fall. What would my life look like if I had finished school first, started a career and then had children? I can barely conceive of this unfulfilled potential future/past, the elements congeal, but the substance of such a life remains out of focus.

The first thing I imagine was that I would have much more time for adventures if I wasn't busy making ends meet all day, and that my blog would be ever so much more exciting. Then I remembered that I only find the blogger who revealed this information about herself mildly amusing half of the time.

I do think that if I wasn't so busy I'd have more insights for you, for me, more time to reflect on my surroundings: on the primary, on the delightful insanity that is restaurant work (I will tell you more soon, I promise, it's really great fun), and on the ways in which I finally feel like this town is becoming my home, just as I am about to leave.

At the only really good coffee shop in town yesterday morning I sat for a few minutes and tried to write. I was alone, and while there were not too many distractions, the solitude itself was disarming. I watched a young family settling in, finding a place for their over-sized stroller between the tables, people heading off to work, or sitting to chat, listened to the bubbly enthusiasm of the barista as she served all of her regular customers their daily joe. I tried to bring my mind back to what I wanted to focus on, the shape of the story I want so badly to tell, but what I wanted and what I needed were too different, and people watching won the day.

Finding time for introspection isn't easy, but it has become necessary. Six-figure salary be damned, the time to simply be might be considered a luxury, but it's one that I deserve, and if I intend to continue calling myself a writer, it's one that I need to cultivate.


Brenda said...

I just found your blog (thru Technorati) this morning. I admit my schedule doesn't seem any near as hectic as yours, still we all seem to fill up with lives with projects and commitments of one kind or another and I thoroughly identify with your sentence "finding time for introspection isn't easy, but it has become necessary." Like you I also wonder where I'll continue to find time to write in my blog (and elsewhere) and to read. I'm always re-arranging my planner to create the time, so I'm becoming resigned to the fact it may never be easy!

Misty said...

I think of this from time to time... Although I have no birth children, I have 5 kids. and although I wasn't really young when I got into that position, I didn't prioritize my career in the years prior. Now, at 32, I certainly wish I would have.

Queen of Shake-Shake said...

I hate it when I'm super busy. I can't think, reflect upon myself or anyone else for that matter. It is only about making ends meet, and not necessarily the money ones but all the others too, and there's nothing leftover for anything else.

Amy said...

I would say don't sweat the career thing. I was only 22 when I had my daughter and I stayed home with her, not going to work until I was 28. I then worked for 7 years before having two more children, and I decided to continue working this time. My career became successful like hers (I read that post too) but it was after I was a SAHM for a while. It can happen either way.

And finding time to compose a few thoughts? Wow is that hard. I look at my blog sometimes and think how much more I have to say but all I can muster is a post about Sara Jessica Parker's stupid hat or a picture from the beach. Finding the time, and then the frame of mind, to write is just a huge challenge.

andi said...

Beautiful, as usual. I can so identify with this - sadly, I think I'll be able to identify with it even more come next week when I go back to work. Bring on the crazy!

Jen said...

I really identify with this and I don't even work. So what's my excuse for never being able to make the ends meet? I don't know. Maybe it's just that as a mother (working or not) you do so much for other people that's it easy for your own needs to get put last? It's a tough thing to balance.