I spent all night at the Democratic National Convention, wandering around in my pajamas. Nobody seemed the mind at all; the Democrats are a liberal sort, in general. I felt an urgency to participate in the activities, but an overwhelming sense of apathy regarding the issues. “I’m really not into politics,” I kept saying when men in dark suits and colorful ties would ask my opinion on certain matters. I wandered around the convention amongst red, white, and blue balloons and confetti. I needed a drink of water. I couldn’t remember who was watching my kids for me. There was a juggler in one of the lobbies. He was juggling a blue bowling pin, a red bowling pin, and a large box of tampons. Just then, my beeper went off. I looked at its bright, illuminated screen. 4:45 a.m. it said. I excused myself for a minute and hit the snooze button on my beeper. Then, with the force of a giant Hoover, I was transported from the convention floor, back to my bedroom, into my bed, face in pillow and arm slapping the nightstand to locate the alarm clock again.
“I hate Mondays,” I say, but it comes out more like, “Mmmmmggggrrrrrrrrrrffffff.”
I wander to the bathroom, disrobe, and turn on the shower. I like to wait a second before stepping in. The last thing I need at this hour is a spray of cold water to wake me up. With eyes half-closed, I offer a sacrificial toe into the shower and find that the water is very warm, and will keep me in my half-conscious state. I step in and lean my head against the tiled wall and close my eyes again.
My mind wanders back to the convention. Note to self: Don’t watch CNN before bed anymore. Another not to self: Remember to buy more tampons. The morning routine is fairly simple. A flurry of lotions and hair gels and business casual attire and—POOF!—I’m ready to tackle Monday, or at least nudge it with a pencil. I’ve even managed to open one of my eyes. I wander back into the bedroom and climb onto the bed, searching the dark lumps for the lips or general facial area of my husband to kiss goodbye. I can’t find his face in the dark, so I kiss what I believe is his shoulder.
“Bye,” I whisper, “I’ll see you tonight.”
“Mmmmmgggrrrrrrrrrrrffffff,” he grumbles.
“I know, me too.” I say, “Love you, bye.”
On my way out, I grab a Shrek Gogurt and a package of unpopped 94% fat free popcorn (breakfast of Champions), my notebook, makeup bag and purse. I open the garage door and it is still dark outside. 5:36 a.m.
Once the car is in drive, I breathe a sigh of relief. The car can practically drive itself the 11 miles to work. I turn down the radio DJ’s complaining about their terrible weekend, and think about the quote I read the other day by Sigmund Freud: Someday, in retrospect, the times of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful. It was in an email that had been forwarded 300 times and promised to curse you and your children if you didn’t pass it on to 7 of your closest friends within 15 minutes. I deleted it, of course. But not before writing down the quote in my notebook. I read it to Ryan that night.
“Isn’t that a great quote?” I asked him.
“Freud said that?” he asked. Ryan is a fourth year Clinical Psychology graduate student at the University of Utah. He was working on a coding system on his laptop.
“According to the email,” I said, “and you know everything that comes through email is true.”
“I don’t think Freud would say that,” he said. He didn’t look up from the screen, just kept clicking and typing. His brain has adapted well to multi-tasking over the past few years. One lobe is dedicated entirely to the pain, stress, and scrutiny known as graduate school and the other lobe belongs to a broad category labeled: Everything Else. That’s where I live.
“Really? You don’t think he said that?”
“It doesn’t really jive with his philosophy.” He stopped clicking and typing and looked up at me.
“I think he more likely said, ‘Someday, in retrospect, you’ll realize that your times of struggle are the reason you hate your father and pee the bed.’” (He thinks he’s pretty funny.)
“That’s beautiful, honey. I’m going to write that down.”
“What?! It’s the truth.” (He is pretty funny.)
“I like the fake one better.”
Someday, in retrospect, the times of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful. It seemed true. Even if Sigmund Freud didn’t say it. Somebody said it. And, today, as I drive to work at 5:36 a.m., I want to believe it. A song is playing on the radio “These are the days to remember” sing the 10,000 Maniacs. Okay, Freud didn’t say it or believe it, but 10,000 Maniacs do. Make that ten thousand and one.