I dreamed someone appeared at my door. I invited her in for coffee. Another woman was behind her. I invited her in, too.
It was the simplest task, to make coffee for my two guests. But I couldn’t get it right. It took me so long. The kitchen was not my kitchen. I spilled the coffee. Started over. Poured milk in both, although the first woman wanted her coffee black. I could not complete the simplest task. The cups I had did not match. Some were very large, and some were tiny. I hadn’t made enough coffee for the large mugs, and I spilled while pouring into the small cups.
I finally was able to bring one small cup, on a saucer, to the room where we were sitting. The woman accepted it graciously, but when I looked down at the cup, it appeared to be full of milk.
In the kitchen that was not my kitchen, the counter was wet with spilled coffee, with milk. The sink was filled with dishes, cups. The refrigerator door hung open.
I didn’t recognize the house, the kitchen, the women who came to visit.
I woke thinking about abandoning all my current projects and starting anew. Throwing all the notebooks and loose papers into boxes, stacking the boxes in the dark hallway closet. Clearing the desk, the mind. Would I feel less burdened? After all, I thought, there is no one waiting for anything.
We spent the weekend painting our bedroom. Once a dark, dusty rose, it is now a soft, bright white. The old nightstands we bought from the consignment shop down the road (which I later had decoupaged with gold wrapping paper) sit in the hallway, exiled. I want something to replace them but don’t yet know what. My indecision suspends time. Each day, we maneuver around the misplaced nightstands, the dropcloths still down on one side of the room. At night, there’s nowhere to put my glasses down.
I’ve backed myself into a corner in one sense, with one book. I’ve plotted out the story arc and it no longer interests me. It no longer resembles where it started. It has become another thing entirely, and I am, I feel rather gutted to admit, not that into it. Or, it is possible that I fear it. That I fear I am unable to rise to its occasion. That I am bored, or distracted, or have not tried hard enough. I want the story to be written, but I don’t think I am the right person to write it.
This is the life I’ve chosen.
Or: This is the life I’ve chosen!
Then there is the “new” thing. Cannot call it a book really. Project? I’ve sketched out its bones, too. I am circling, circling.
There was a manuscript I thought was nearly finished, but then when I looked again, it was not. I abandoned most of it, was left with only a few poems, anemic ideas. I am afraid to go back to it. Afraid there will be nothing left. If I avoid it, I can imagine there is still something there worth revisiting.
Panic panic panic panic
I spent some time trying to plan one last retreat before the end of summer. A little cottage by the ocean, a quiet house by a lake somewhere. But of course, at this point, so late in the season, everything is booked, everyone planful has made their decisions and as my mother was often fond of telling me, “She who hesitates is lost.” I don’t know where she got that from, and I hadn’t thought of it in years. But now, in a moment of doubt, of persistent indecision, isn’t it my mother who inserts herself?
Meanwhile, confronted with the prospect of the (real) new book, and the pre-publication efforts it requires. Make a list of every place, every person you have ever known. Every school attended, every town you’ve lived. Make a list of entreaties you will be making on its behalf. Ready yourself to call in all your favors. It’s nearly showtime in this life you’ve chosen.