I ran into a friend on the street just now, the kind of friend whose name you scream across the road and you run across traffic to bear-hug on the sidewalk. She’s stressed, she’s busy, she’s a whirlwind of Too Much, and we talked about that.
I’m teaching again right now, that summer camp that I love. And I should be stressed. I should be busy. I should be a whirlwind. I leave the house at 7am and I usually don’t get home until nearly 6pm — and even then, often have homework to do in order to prepare for the next day. And my freelance life doesn’t completely shut down just because I’m teaching all day — there’s still some ongoing projects that require some attention from time to time.
I haven’t been on top of my email inbox. I let a few balls drop. I get back to people days, sometimes weeks late. I missed a deadline, and then another.
And here’s the thing. I’m not stressed. I’m not panicked. I mean, I SHOULD BE. That’s not my style — at ALL. My mother raised me right. I’m not a flake. I’m a hardworking, take-charge, type-A, get-shit-done badass.
I got back to people later than I normally would. I apologized for missing a deadline and then I fixed it.
The world didn’t end.
In fact, every single person understood completely.
I could have spent last weekend catching up on all of this work, doing some planning for the next season or spending some quality time with the book proposal that has been eating at me slowly for months now, still just-not-quite-what-I-want-it-to-be. I went to visit friends instead. I was treated to dinner at a fancy restaurant, spent a wonderful day on Rockaway Beach, ate burgers in a Brooklyn backyard, and had a picnic on a rooftop overlooking Times Square. I read a book that I loved. I played with a little girl sitting next to me on a train. I didn’t send a single Tweet.
My friend and I talked on the street for almost forty minutes. Her shoulders started to relax. She laughed. We hugged.
“Look at you,” she said. “You’re so … light. It’s like you’re radiating joy.”
This is a blog where I’ve talked about depression. This is a blog where I’ve talked about anxiety. This is a blog where I’ve talked about fear and about heartbreak and about loss and about grief. This is a blog where I have talked about how crushing my workload can feel like, how guilty I feel for complaining about overwork when I love my job and so many others are less fortunate. How complicated it is that America, the land of the free, is also the most overworked country in the world. How sometimes fear and shame can creep into my daily life, build these little walls up inside me that I don’t even know are there.
I want to make sure I’m talking about the other side of all of that, which is that sometimes this is a blog where you talk about how fucking good it is to be wearing a white sundress on a hot day, how delicious iced tea tastes, the morning after a good night’s sleep, what it’s like to stop to chat with the neighbors in the tiny purple house, who nickname you ‘Sugar’ and make you smile until the corners of your mouth start to hurt just a little. Where we talk about those long days at camp, where I get to start my days with a dance party and where I get to dress up like Wonder Woman and where I write stories and sing songs and make wild messes with cardboard and paint and glue and crayons. Where the tiniest ones sometimes hug you unexpectedly, curling their little bodies into your lap before you have a chance to redirect them. Where you get to laugh, because these children are hilarious, because they are sincere, because they are beautiful, because they are vulnerable and authentic and they haven’t been broken yet, because you want to believe that they will change the world. Because they just love you. Because you just love them right back.
This blog is a place where we talk about problems, where we talk about heartbreak, where we critique what’s wrong in our world and where we try to figure out how to fix it. But I want to make sure I’m telling you about the other side of things, which is that on some days, the world is actually just so good. So very, very, very good.
So I answered a bunch of emails late.
I’m kind of okay with that.
Fuck email. Radiate joy.