I hope that you are proud of you, too.
Remember that Mr. Rogers song? “I’m Proud of You”? This was a song my family co-opted to sing to one another in moments of accomplishment large and small, and my sister remembers it as a sweet thing, and I remember it as an ironic, condescending thing. This is what happens in the course of a nine-year age difference.
Good morning, Henshaw. Now would be as good a time as any, I suppose, to admit that I walk around feeling distinctly un-proud, most of the time. Like a lot of people I know, my principle motivator in this life is dread. You know, (maybe you know): the stone in the pit of the stomach. The name I give to the stone changes, constantly: It becomes “all those papers to grade,” or “that phone call to make,” or a glance at the dwindling bank account, or, “What the hell will you do with yourself once you graduate?” (Effing boulder, that one.) There are also more abstract boulders, like “President Bush,” or “Environment,” but I’ll admit that those ones mostly get pushed by the wayside when faced with an imminent doozie, like, “You have to revise that horrid chapter.”
I’ll admit that waking up knowing that Double-You is no longer representing me to the world feels like a mitigation of this load; knowing that Obama is in feels even better. But it is not these things I credit for my unusual good mood this morning. The thesis is almost (gulp) done, and I know that this fact is just as likely to translate to panic for me as to a sense of accomplishment. Because, you know: Now, what?
But this morning, I feel good about it. I look up above my computer, at the insane chart of chapters crawling across the wall up there, see the red checkmarks next to very-nearly each, and feel like I actually deserve to spend some time out in the twenty-degree sun today.
And, inexplicably, I don’t feel imminently stressed out about anything right now. Sure, I have no job and no prospects for one, and sure, it looks like my car is dying, and sure, I’ve been subsisting on this secret, ridiculous notion that this book would pave the way, sort of magic-carpetlike, for the fancy career in writing I’ve wanted all my life, just like thousands of other people who are more talented than I—but, watching my friends and family members who’ve been taking such things as “I’ll find a job that satisfies me” on faith lately, inspires me. Moreover: relaxes me.
Plus, I get to play music with my Carolina friends when I go to visit next week, and plus, I get to play music with my friend here in Atlanta later this week, and plus, I’m teaching myself to play the Decemberists’ lovely, heartbreaking song “The Engine Driver.” Plus, Marshall and I will go for a long walk in the mountains this weekend. It’s just plain freaking good to be alive right now, damn it. It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood.