Sometimes I think I can keep it all in my head.
“It,” of course, meaning doctor’s appointments, book interviews, chapter ideas, middle of the night epiphanies, babysitting hours, friend dates, dinner dates, wedding dates, wedding shower dates, birthday parties, camping trips, article deadlines, blog post ideas, blogging “next step” ideas, writing air dates, places to query, podcast ideas, books to read, needed Target/Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods items …and on and on the list goes.
Until I can’t.
Take today, for instance. I had a sitter lined up from 12-5, so the day started with a lunch date at Cholita Linda’s (in which I brought my own lettuce and dressing to go with their carnitas. I’ve become that person. I am not ashamed). After lunch with a friend whose words I could take notes on they’re so good, I headed home to write. Because sometimes, even when I can get out of the house, I don’t want to spend money on an overpriced cup of tea and $2 an hour parking meters. I don’t want to sit in the Target Home & Garden section, pretending fluorescent lights aren’t luminescent above me while I write on my laptop.
So it’s kind of nice to drink a free cup of tea in the leather chair in your bedroom. It’s kind of nice when other people watch your shrieking children in the next room over. It’s kind of nice to feel normal and grown-up and adult in your own space.
But sometimes all that adulting takes its toll.
You think you’re on top of it. You think your acupuncture appointment is at four o’clock, like it’s been for the past three weeks. You think you have time to read a chapter or two in the book you’re reviewing, and you think you may even be able to respond to the hoard of emails you’ve fallen so desperately behind on.
So you read and you dilly dally. You relish in this time to yourself, even if you should be stepping out into the sunshine, at least writing at the coffee shop down the street.
But then you shake your head for shoulding yourself, and you tell yourself that you’ll never, ever be someone who shoulds – not to yourself, not to others, not to your family.
(Insert Tina Fey meme into the blog post, now…)
(Carry on, please).
And you even have the grand idea, at 3:45 pm, to ride your bike to the office, because wouldn’t that be glorious? Wouldn’t a six minute ride in the sunshine be glorious? Wouldn’t the acupuncturist be proud of you for partaking of exercise and general feel-goodness of it all?
You pat yourself on the back. You ride your bike. You take the elevator, with said bike, up to the fourth floor. You walk into the office, ready to own all those miniature needles stuck all over your body to help with that middle of the night back pain you crave might end. And it’s true: you own it, you do, you do!
You are on top of the world, rockstar!
You are woman, hear you roar!
You ask the receptionist where you should park your bike (because, of course, you didn’t remember to bring a bike lock, but let’s go back to point A: you look good walking your bike into the acupuncturist’s office!)
And she gives you that millennial look: you know, the one that’s half disengaged, half uncaring, half annoyed with your general existence.
(Insert the trailer for The Great Indoors, coming to CBS this fall).
But there’s something else she wants to say. Something you can’t quite read as you look for a place to park your gargantuan (but really, really good looking) red beast of a bike.
“Um, did you get our message?” she asks you.
“Huh?” you say in reply, for you’ve been riding your bike! You’ve been basking in the sunshine! You’ve been keeping it all in your head!
“Your appointment was at 3:20. It’s almost four o’clock.” She pauses. “And there’s a fee for missed or late appointments.”
You look at your phone, which holds your schedule, which you didn’t dare consult because why should you? It’s all in your head. You know your appointment’s at four o’clock, like it’s been every other week.
Until it wasn’t.
Until the acupuncturist has a previously scheduled four o’clock appointment.
You look at the millennial. She looks at you. You put your helmet back on your head. She asks for your credit card. You shake your head, no. You’re not gonna do it. You’re there. You showed up. You just had a different time written on the calendar in your head.
She looks at you. Her jaw hangs open, like the dentist is straight-up looking at her teeth.
You walk out the door and hit the elevator button so you can journey back down four floors. You wonder if you made the right decision – refusing to pay, that is – but then, when the acupuncturist personally calls you a couple of hours later and offers you grace, grace, grace by way of waving the fee, you heave a sigh of relief.
Not because you got your way. But because this is one last thing you have to hold.
(And then you do what you should have done all along: you promise to consult your calendar every day. You promise not to hold the world in your head. And you promise to do unto others as others have done unto you: you promise to offer grace and extend kindness, both to those who deserve it and to those who don’t).
So. What say you? Have you ever tried to hold the world in your head and then failed miserably? I’d love to hear your story. Do tell!