A Search for Permanence
The night was young, but she lay in bed aching to sleep and moaning the inability to close her eyes. Her mind was racing.
How can it hurt so much to be apart from a man who agreed with me to separate after three years? It's been three months since I left, and it still feels like yesterday that we began our life together. I miss being a family, eating dinner together at night and spending weekends together.
Sleep would come eventually, she knew. The tiredness of emotion and responsibility weighed heavily on her, pleading with her to give rest to the misery and pain.
Her son tossed restlessly in his bed. The poor boy was sick again. The doctor reassured her that children starting daycare are quite frequently ill, until they can develop immunities to the more common viruses found among children. His coughs disturbed her, though, and continued to keep her awake and thinking.
Turning over, she rustled the papers under her pillow. Ah, the e-mails. Writing was always something they could do well, until they had stopped doing it. And when they started again, the pages were soon filled with I's and me's and cries of desperation for the situation they found themselves in. Apart, longing for the other and the chance to make it right again, they lay awake at night in their separate beds and wished they could be a family.
Should I get rid of these printouts? Maybe thinking about the dialogue going on between us during the day is reminding me of him too much. I need to put him a safe drawer in my mind so that I can open or close it whenever I want. She sat up in bed for a moment to look out the window. She had opened the curtains somewhat permanently a few weeks ago, and found she enjoyed seeing the trees outside as they grew their new leaves of spring. Now, in the night, there was blackness in the sky and bright lights on the ground. The back yard was illuminated by neighboring streetlights instead of by the moon, which was just peeking over the horizon out of her sight.
No, that didn't help much, did it? I wish I could sleep or perform magic so the night would go by more quickly. I wish I could find some peace. The computer called out to her from the other room. She rose, tiptoed out of the bedroom, and shut the squeaky door softly behind her. Sitting down at the desk, she switched on the computer. The whir of the drives spinning up comforted her for a moment as she snuggled into the blanket she'd left on the chair earlier. Checking e-mail was always a tempting first step into the Web, so she logged in to her two accounts and waited for any indication of a new message.
Nothing personal, just some trash. That's what I get for sitting here in the middle of the night when no one else is. I'd better work on my resume. Her resume was readily available. She wished it weren't so available; she wished that somehow, someone had found one of the many iterations of her resume, called her, and told her they couldn't survive in the world without her contribution to their success. The right version of her resume just hadn't emerged out of the dark fog of her mind yet, she knew. Resumes were always subject to changes; in fact, her resume had gone through so many drafts, she wasn't exactly sure which draft had gone out to which company. Still, it was obvious that the right draft had not gone out to the right company.
Coughing sounds came from the bedroom. Her son flipped over audibly, coughed again, then settled back down to breathe regularly. Maybe tomorrow he'll sleep all night without disturbance, she hoped.
Back to the resume, then. What can I add to it to make it more me? I've added a quote from a brainstormed letter I wrote a long time ago, and that didn't work. I've reorganized the sections, I've rewritten the summaries and objectives and qualifications line so many times, but nothing seems to get the resume right. Maybe the employers are picking up on what I'm saying with my resume this way. I'm confused about what I want to do and want someone else to make the decision how they can use me the best.
Independence dangles before her suddenly, like the carrot before a horse. It seems so close, and yet so far away. All she has to do is get her resume, the right one, in front of the right person. That right person is out there, somewhere, but it will take more searching to find that person. Then, a job, perhaps the beginning of a career, will take hold of her life, and give it structure. Her beautiful son is definitely ready for adventures away from mom, as long as he knows that she is waiting for him when he returns. Then after they have their adventures in their own lives, they can meet at the end of the day for an adventure together.
Pondering the concept of adventure gives way to the more compelling concept of permanence. She has known for some time that her mission during this time of transition is to define permanence as it figures in her life. Maybe permanence means different things to different people, she realizes. Maybe permanence in her life means latching on to a state of mind, rather than a state of location or company or time.
Could that be why I have come to the search for peace of mind and soul and body? Why I have arrived at the yoga, self-healing, and martial arts section of the bookstores? Have I finally come to the crossroads, where I can make the decision to live a full life or just a part of a life? And where I have the power and the means to not only make that decision, but also to act upon it purposefully?
The light bulb has gone on. Those e-mails to him suggested it, but she hadn't been able to focus on it until now. She wants a permanence that she can carry around with her wherever she goes. She wants a permanence that doesn't have to be packed in a box or sent on to a new address in an envelope with a yellow sticker. She wants a permanence that won't be destroyed if an address changes or the people around her change. She wants a permanence she can share with her son; to help guide him through the rough waters that lie ahead in the tumultuous world they live in.
Where does the man who is still in her life fit into this picture? She's still not sure. But perhaps, establishing permanence within her mind, soul, and body will help her to discover the best way to enjoy his presence.
Peace washed over her then, like a refreshing spring shower. Knowing the objective of every day, every action she takes will make the days more purposeful. Accomplishments are much easier to achieve when there is something to accomplish. And a sense of inner peace and permanence will be with her forever, wherever she goes, whomever she is with.
I can go to sleep now.
The peace was slowly replaced by drowsiness. She switched off the computer, and moved silently back to her bedroom. Lying down on the bed, she patted the pillow that covered the notes between them, and then kissed it with a gentle whispering touch.
All is well in my world, I know, as long as I can think and feel and love.
Jennifer Inman is so excited about this opportunity to be published on Moondance. She's a project coordinator, currently working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although she grew up here, Inman traveled quite a bit, and her many travel and living experiences have encouraged her writing ability. Inman moved first to Washington, D.C., to attend the American University and work at the State Department. Then a volunteer English teaching job in Hungary caught her eye, and she spent two stimulating years in the small town of Nagykoros. It was there that Inman started writing for pleasure--her first poem was a eulogy for a friend who died of cancer. Since then, she's written many, many poems and some short stories, both fiction and non-fiction. At present, Inman is exploring children's literature, inspired by her toddler son Christopher, and non-fiction writing about her son and her existential and spiritual search for herself as a newly single mom. One of Inman's most constant inspirations is Moondance's Ten Commandments of Creativity, which she have posted next to my desk at work. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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