22 March 2006

Days between Days

You might not believe it but the tick of the kitchen clock echoes through my house all day.

Tick-tick, click-click
Clock snips time in two

Despite all you've heard about how many people live here and how noisy it is, most afternoons are long and still, broken only by the entrance and exit of people going to music lessons or classes or track or outside to play. Sometimes the phone rings and every few hours there is the groan of the stairs when Dad comes down to the kitchen to make more green tea. Abby reads Lemony Snicket on the couch, her feet twitching and turning with delight, Andrew and Lydia color at the table, Lydia biting her tounge side to side in delicious concentration, Mom steals a nap in her bedroom. Things don't speed up until dinner time.

I've just woken up from an accidental nap, hot and long beneath too many blankets, and am trying to decide if I should run it off before dinner and try to make some vibrant plans for the evening.

Vibrant plans.

This break makes me think of Jack Burden's great sleep in All the King's Men. I can't believe that I didn't bring that book home with me this break. He finishes his master's thesis and sleeps for months in some cheap apartment down in Louisiana. I wonder if that is what I will want to do at the end of the summer?

These days come every spring, usually in June when I get back from school and my job hasn't started, but I get pieces of them throughout my breaks, scattered and silent. Freshman year I thought days like this were over. I remember laboring over my Latin and cramming for exams and constant stress over not finishing my reading or being prepared for class and sitting at the bottom of an empty stairwell, so overwhelmed by the constant motion, craving meaningless days. I thought I would never again have the time to fall between the cracks and get lost for a little while.

“But what about the days,” I once asked my mother. “Between the weeks? What are they called?”

I was sure that minutes and hours and days couldn't hold all of time, all of reality, that somewhere things fell through the cracks, there must be some pardon to the precision of the clock and the calendar. I realize that I've found those days. Days that begin and end in vague greyness, job applications, naps and many cups of tea, conversations that will return later in dreams and memories, ideas that seem too hazy to make out, restlessness that cannot be quenched with walks or runs or long journaling sessions.

There is a place in me that feels very hard right now. A place that refuses this rest and wants to toil so badly--or maybe a part that doesn't trust the quiet or feel that it is right to sleep when I feel so lost. I don't know how to accept the rest. I want definition and direction and I want to run with fury. These are the days between days, days wondering where all my idealistic dreams went, contemplating automated job rejection messages that pop up on my computer screen and settling in to filling out yet another formulaic lesson in my distance-learning fiction class.

And tick-tick, click-click
Pass the hours


j truitt said...

I wish a I could take me a three-month nap in an apartment in Louisiana. Actually I think I will. An apartment on Canal Street in New Orleans.

By the way, when do you get back to Virginia?

jules said...

jeff, if you hit on my friends, i'm not going to introduce you to any more of them.


and i am so all about a long nap in louisiana. and when i wake up, i'm just going to eat beignets and drink coffee.

ok, i'm going to go to a meeting before i make myself sad.

j truitt said...

meetings...none of us is as dumb as all of us.