I wake up early every morning to write, but often I feel stuck so instead I read. This smashes to bits the diatribe I throw at other writers during workshops: Writing is a muscle you need to exercise! There’s no such thing as writer’s block! Just put one word after another! Don’t tell anyone.
This morning I wanted to write about changing myself – about creating the physical and spiritual environment in which I want to live, love, flourish, raise my family. But I struggled with how to articulate my yearnings without sounding like a snowflake hippie ready to imbibe kale-avocado-banana smoothies in perpetuity. So I read The New York Times instead. And I came across this article about Carly Simon’s children, both of whom have low-key musical careers of note. (If you
can’t access it, that means you should subscribe to The New York Times in order to fully support quality fake news.)
At one point, the NYT writer quotes Simon’s daughter, Sally Taylor, as she describes her mom and the Martha’s Vineyard estate where Simon lives.
There is a gazebo, two barns, a horse shed and many outbuildings. Also five goats, four dogs, two miniature horses and two donkeys. “It’s become mom, like an outfit,” Ms. Taylor said of the place, adding lyrically: “Her spirit is way, way bigger than her body, and so it needs a bigger outfit. She has bushes and trees as earrings and lakes as gowns. Her body almost can’t leave the property, because her spirit is wearing it.”
My heart leaped around in my chest and I read the passage again, and then I thought, OH MY GODDESS, I ACTUALLY AM A SNOWFLAKE HIPPIE because this is exactly how I’d like someone to describe me. I want to be a nature girl like that. I want to wear the outdoors like a hoodie. I totally could live on bananas and kale and avocado (and the occasional bourbon). I want chickens. I want a goat. I want to let my son paint a mandala on the side of the house.
But I’m constrained by the neighborhood homeowner’s association, which makes me all Why am I living here again? before I remember that it’s for the schools, the schools, we live here because of the schools, which is another subject entirely, although closely related. “How can I be more nature-y?” I asked the husband. “How can I make myself more one with nature?”
“It depends on what you mean by that,” he said. “Do you mean gardening? You’re not a very good gardener. Do you mean just being outside? Do you mean carpentry?”
“I am an excellent gardener! I just….,” and my voice trailed off as I stared balefully at the marauding
weeds stalking my basil plants. But carpentry. “What are you even talking about with carpentry?”
“You need to manage your time better,” he said. He has told me this before, and I don’t like hearing it. But I might be ready to listen now. I’m embarking on a Project to convert my daily existence into something reflective of who I am, what I love, and how I can best serve my family and the world within my reach. I haven’t decided what to name it yet. And because I need accountability, I’m going to bring you along for the ride so I’ll keep writing.
Buckle up, people. Promise you’ll still love me.