The one I meant to write

I remember that when I first stepping into mommishness, and I had my one wee baby, my friend Carol would tell me that the biggest change in her life since becoming a mom was her lack of a thought life. She had three children, the oldest nine, and the youngest three at the time. Since I only had a baby, I couldn't really relate yet. Most of my struggles were with being tied to a young creature, night and day, with having really tight cycles of sleep and food and wake time, which are big struggles in the beginning, don't get me wrong, but I didn't really understand what she meant by that lack of a thought life thing.

Until now. Now I do. It has something to do with waking first thing to requests for juice that grow ever shriller and then sitting at the table sticking to my guns about the fact that everyone is eating their breakfasts and juice can wait until I've finished mine, for pity's sake. And then on into the day, racing away, breaking up fights, telling stories, of course the ever-present and heroic bum-wiping, and just generally, the living consistently with other talking people who do it all the time. Talk. And talk. And talk.

I like to think. It fills up my writer self with stories and ideas and memories. So I was glad to drive down to the City yesterday to work, a job I do about once a month, although I half froze in my heatless car. But nevermind. That's a thing of the past. It was good to think.

I passed three dead dear, not all together, as I drove. Once, a while ago, I started a poem about the carnage on the highway first thing in the morning, here in the woods. Something about the flocks of carrion birds. Although it was storming so hard yesterday that even crows were staying away. It was storming so hard that I stopped to eat to try to wait it out a little, since I could barely see, and when I ran from my car to the store it was as though I had stepped into my bathtub and turned on the shower.

I thought a lot. Before I left I ran into our communal kitchen for something. It looked as though seven young bulls with dirt on their hooves had wreaked havoc for hours. Somehow in the aftermath of Thanksgiving the kitchen got neglected, partly because a lot of people caught a bug going around and were feeling yucky and under the weather, and probably because it got to the point where it was overwhelming. I felt upset. First I thought, how did this happen? And then I thought, why didn't I plan better? I should have thought to set up a clean up crew for the after Thanksgiving earthquake. Somewhere in the middle of total responsibility and blame is the real answer.

But it's like G.K. Chesterton wrote, after a local paper asked writers for essays on what they thought the biggest problems of the world were. His was brief. "I am," he wrote.

It's all part of a theme that I've been mulling over, in those rare moments when I can mull, about perspective. For instance, I could have continued to stew over the state of the kitchen as I drove. I realized that I was doing it, and understood that it was stealing my joy over what an amazing Thanksgiving we had. I mean, it really was amazing. I had the most fun that I've had in a long time. Friends came from far away, we ate, we sang the Thanksgiving song, we played music, we played games like Mafia and Grand Pooba, Chinua did card tricks, and the guys made a sweat lodge.

Yesterday I stopped along the way to visit with my friend who got really hurt in a motorcycle accident. He's in the hospital, and it's so, so sad to see him there and in pain. He looked grey, like people in the hospital often do, and his eyes were shadowed and pain-filled. He's going to get better. That's the amazing thing. He could have died.

It's crazy, how crumbly we are. There are so many casualties, all the time, like those deer who stepped onto a dark road, like people who fly off their motorcycles because some other person in a car made a bad choice. Something like seeing someone in so much pain really makes you think about casualties. Sometimes we are even casualties of our friendships, of careless words and the sediment of hurts. For me, seeing my friend in pain and his family working through it made me want to say, I'll be a better friend, I really will, to everyone I know. There are small things and there are big things, and I want to focus on the big things.

Don't get me wrong, the kitchen needs to be clean, but sometimes I need to look past the dishes. That's all.