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Duality

I know that the University of Alabama has an MFA program.

In my current incarnation, that knowledge has about as much bearing on my everyday life as knowing that the capital of Morocco is Rabat. My days are filled with the trials and tribulations, the jubilations and joys of four small boys. It’s a messy sort of life, and my job, for the most part, is to follow behind picking up, dusting off and generally tidying up. I’m not complaining. I chose this role above all others, and I genuinely enjoy it.

But there’s another woman living somewhere in the cobwebby corners of my mind — the fruit of the path not taken — and she tends to wander. Catch me staring into space, absently stirring whatever I’m currently referring to as dinner, and chances are she’s grabbed the reins and is galloping off to that future world called “Someday.”

Someday, her house is empty. All those spaces filled with “Did you see–? Did you sign–? Can you make–? Will you attend–?” are vacant, dusty, and ready to be stuffed to the rafters with beautiful, wonderful, pointless thoughts and feelings and imaginings. She’s a bit selfish and a bit stingy with her time, but doesn’t apologize. I envy her “take me as I am or not at all” brashness.

I am she and she is me, but like matter and anti-matter, we cannot occupy the same space at the same time. We’ve tried, and the one so diminishes the other as to make us both unrecognizable. So we remain — separate, disparate. A friendly sort of apartheid, but just as unsustainable.

Yet I know about the MFA program, and I cruise the internet for writing exercises and workshops. I read books with an eye on style as much as story. And the divide between us shrinks, the estrangement lessens. We even confer occasionally. We stage our characters and block our scenes. Then someone skins a knee, and it’s my privilege to kiss it and make everything better. I feel a bit sad for her then, as she retreats with her scribblings and I — I get to race outside to push people on swings and find pirate ships in the clouds. Mine is the lap they clamber into and I’m the one who shows them how to whistle low and soft, so the doves coo back a soft hello. I’m forever being reminded why I made the choices I did, and how I’d make them all again in a wink.

She is me, and I am she, and Someday we’ll be we.

But not today.

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4 Responses

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  1. wendy gwin kane says

    This is lovely Jodi…and I wish society would leave it to us to draw the distinctions within ourselves that you have here. It cannot be that simple or that complicated (whichever it seems on any given day) when it comes to society’s labels and expectations, ie. are you a “working” mom? a “stay at home” mom? a “single” mom? a “stepmom”? I ask in less eloquent terms “who the @#$% cares what KIND of my mom anyone may be?”, so long as they are a caring, loving and genuine one, who truly knows and appreciates what that title means. It is often the labels that make it difficult, in reminding us that we cannot be all types of mom and must retain some unidimensional being and stick to what we should know. To the label makers, as we Gen Xers have too often said….”whatever”. Leave it to us to decide what we’ll be and how we’ll get there. We have the greatest motivation on earth to be happy and successful – our babies :)

  2. jodi says

    Wendy, you have managed to summarize exactly what I was trying to convey with this. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

  3. Bells says

    that’s poetry. Some day she’ll be we.

    You know, in some ways, she is here now. She’s not so far away. She’s maybe just not quite as close by as you’d like, except for in moments like these where you capture something about her. hang in there. You’re doing great.

    And you know, for what it’s worth, I’ve got one those Me’s out there too. Someday she’s going to do SO much and I don’t even have four little boys calling on me all day. We can all do with bringing other other selves into the present a bit I think. Thanks for the food for thought.

  4. Robin O'Bryant says

    All of this now is filling you up for then. Our life experiences fill us until we are about to burst THEN we write. Beautiful post girlie.



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