Restlessness overtakes me. I watch Intervention. Twice. Then Hoarders. Then pace a bit. Sometimes I feel like a wild thing, a creature of the moon.
I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
Why aren't I sleepy? Is it because of the moon or the earth? What am I worried about? Nothing. I am a wild thing. Wild and unattached. An animal. I told my daughter the difference between monkeys and apes. "Monkeys have tails, love. Apes do not. Humans are apes. We are apes." She laughed at me. "We aren't monkeys, Mama. We aren't animals." But we are, my love. We are hairless apes. We are wild things. We are a shrewdness of apes. An army. A tribe. We cling together so no one will steal our food and our women.
I am a wild thing, but am I sorry for myself? I peer out the window. It is midnight. Everyone is sleeping. I am not sleeping. I am not feeling sorry for myself because of it. I am the night watchman. I wait for movement. There is nothing. The baby is no longer in our bed. He is in his crib, and I should stretch out, hold my husband again. I shut my eyes and think of nothing. My eyes open again. Still awake. I trudge down the stairs, still not sorry for myself. I watch stories of people with survival issues, because my issues are thrivival in nature.
I am like the tide, in and out, here and there. Last week's the full moon was the Strawberry Moon. It sounded so benign, but it kicked off a strange bout of exhaustive awake-ness. One day, the old Algonquin names of the moons will be second nature to me. I look them up every month when I can't sleep, and crosscheck them with the Traditional English names. They are poetry and earth and salt and haiku. They make sense. The moons are like a creature, a wild goddess, demanding worship.The Strawberry Moon, however, seems to want nothing but joy. And I cannot muster joy.
I am sleepless because the solstice approaches. I am lost and have lost. But I have and continue to get.
My stomach cramps and makes me wonder if I am matched up again with the cycles of the moon. Except that since Thor came into the world, my cycles are unpredictable, sparse, unvisiting, mostly. Sometimes I believe that Thor was the last of my cycles because he was the last of my cycles. I flirt with the idea of another child in my sleeplessness. I had three babies once. I want to hold three babies. But I will always do this, I realize, I will always want one more. I think there is one missing, because there is one missing.
So simple a concept to still not get.
Last week, after I returned from the retreat, I got on my computer, did some work, walked away. Do we always remember the absolutely ordinariness of the moment before the moment it all changed? The next morning, she wouldn't start up. I tried not to panic, but I was panicking. I took it into the Geek Squad immediately. The geek was rude to me. I half-expected him to eat my hard drive. Isn't that what geeks do? I wondered if I trusted him with my work. I fought the impulse and left my hulking desktop on the counter with a little sticker with my name on it. One little sticker is what identifies all that work as me. I handed it over and it wasn't until I got into the car that I realized that I was crying. My novel. My memoirs. All my unpublished works in progress. Pictures of all three of my children's births. All the photographs of my artwork. My being.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.
I cannot drop from a bough frozen. I am not a wild thing. I am a domesticated, organized thing. I am tame and emotionally delicate thing. I am a lapdog with anxiety issues and a penchant for dog ice cream. And in the most un-Buddhist way, I can say I am attached to everything. I am attached to the picture of a possum I downloaded a year ago. I am attached to the movies I made of my paintings. I am attached to my folders of still life 365 work. I am attached to my ideas. I am attached to my writing. I am attached to the pictures of the things and people I love. I am attached.
I found my flash drive with backups of my writing work. After days of prayers to St. Anthony, and a candle to the Strawberry Moon Goddess, it was there in an envelope in the drawer I was sure I put it in. Of course, it wasn't backed up recently. The last back up was December. When I can't write, I edit. When I can't edit, I tweak. When I can't tweak, I write sentences and save them for later longer pieces. When I have nothing to write, I write letters to people. When I can't write letters to people, I write letters to institutions. "Dear Marriage..." I don't even remember which pieces in what folders I worked on in the last six months. In the last six months of sobriety. (Did you catch that? I lost all my sober work.)
I wait to hear if they can save my work. The geek asked me which files I want to recover.
"All of them," I say.
"But do you remember which ones?"
"Please, just save them all. If you can't save them all, then save the ones you can."
He is frustrated, eats my pen, spits ink at me. He's not that kind of geek. I am lying because the idea of losing my work makes me a wild thing. Wild things lie when they feel threatened.
I breathe deep and write down the names of each folder I want saved. My Documents. "Is that too vague? I need everything in the folder 'My Documents'?"
"No, that is a root folder. That is totally cool. Don't worry."
It is summer solstice. Two years and six months since she died. I lose things. I lost her. Sometimes I cry about something I can't hold, because it reminds me of all the other wild things I cannot hold. It reminds me of when I fell frozen from a bough having never felt sorry for myself.