It kept surfacing, a worry that I couldn’t suppress. My thoughts were like loose threads and despite not wanting to unravel, I’d pull each one. Before long my worries flapped against me throughout the day, my drive peppered with frantic thoughts, dinner was laced with fretting, and my sleep started and ended with discontentment.
“I need your help,” I said to Sean. The joke in our relationship, maybe more appropriately called a reality, is that I never ask for help. I’ve thrown out my back, pressed myself up against deadlines I can’t ever meet, and bitten off more than I could chew, gotten in over my head, you name the cliche and I’ve done it. Much to Sean’s chagrin I can often shimmy my way out, left with nothing but a slightly foolish look as we both know I made it harder on everyone by being stubborn.”I need your help.”
He turned to me, “Anything. What is it?” He asked.
“I want to write. I am desperate to find time to write, but I keep letting other things get in the way, or I just get too tired. I have been saying for years that I was going to do this, or that I was going to write that. I feel like I have this massive wake of unfinished projects and unrealized hopes behind me, while all around me other people are doing it.”
“What exactly is it?” he asked.
I stammered, the frustration knotting up in my chest, a sense of futility spreading faster than I could put words together. Watching me, he nodded gently and said, “Manda, you gotta tell me what it is, then I can help.”
“I just want to write the book. A book. I want to not know that I said I would and that people said they would read it and then that I didn’t do it. I hate having that mound of almosts behind me. I did some of the things I set out to do, I did get published by Mamalode, I am on Huffington Post, I’m going to be in the Brain, Child book, these were all goals and that’s great, but they were supposed to be on the way to a book. Ten years, I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years and I’ve started so many times. I just can’t do it alone and I need you to help me. Not a little bit, like I need you beside me, pushing me and holding me to this thing because for whatever reason I can’t seem to do it for myself.” I held his eyes for a moment and then turned away, consumed by shame and fear.
“It’s going to be work,” he said.
“We have to get away. We need to sort things out and put our heads down.” He was watching me. “Then you are going to have to put yourself on your list of priorities, you have to rank and I can’t make that happen without you.”
“As soon as we can get away.”
We began planning. A few weeks back we’d had the unexpected expense of cutting down several trees that bordered our neighbor’s property. I’d liquidated my meager retirement plan to fund it. We earmarked enough to get away for a weekend. Nana took the girls and Beso and we struck out for the place I’d found to be our writing cabin in Vermont. The sun began to set just as we crossed the state line.
We didn’t actually know what the cabin looked like on the outside until Saturday morning.
The view from the porch was gorgeous. I was grateful that while I could imagine the girls playing out front, I did not ache with thinking they ought to have been with us.
I walked to the pond’s edge and savored my soul-deep awareness of my luck. I promised myself that I would work to honor this beautiful beginning by pressing through to the finish line.
The touches throughout the cabin felt like they were made using my fondest memories of golden times in Eugene, visits to Pownal, and hikes along the Yakima River. It was hard to imagine how the space and spirit of the cabin could have been any better suited to us and my dream.
There was a hurdle to get over as I dwelled on times chapters I didn’t finish, stories that ran aground in fatigue and doubt. We got to a place where it became difficult and I didn’t back down.
We both used unfamiliar muscles, our projects tend to be straightforward, this was different. Even knowing each other as we do, there was so much peeling and pressing, we spent a lot of time quiet, almost timid, then the words would come and we would type. His fingers are gentle on the keys, nearly silent. My lines come in waves, harsh staccato, then my shoulders roll and they come legato and I can’t help smiling.
He stays with me, part companion, part task master. I am comforted and challenged by his presence.
The only requirement of the cabin, beyond being in Vermont, was that it have a fireplace. Sean split wood and kept the fire crackling and glowing the whole weekend.
He took time to swing in the hammock, his face radiant. “Do you like it?” I asked. He chuckled, a little uneasy, “I can’t remember the last time I was in one of these. It’s coming back to me, though.”
We left for a while to soak up the Vermont countryside. Each valley more beautiful than the last. We stopped at the crest of a hill and I climbed out of the truck to read writing on a stone marker. The message of a couple whose love had been in working the land seemed almost too perfect a message for this weekend of shared labor.
Saturday’s light slipped behind the mountain as we worked at the table, some moment’s spent in quiet reflection, others in excited typing. He let me read his words and they hit me like a first kiss. Butterflies and excitement, wonder and joy.
This weekend we started a book together. Later this month this space will get a new look. Thank you for coming here to read my words and rallying behind me time and again as I have stutter-stepped to the starting line of fulfilling a dream. I am looking forward to sharing this with you and will likely be asking you for your opinion, if you’re willing.