There is a basket of towels and whites and color clothes needing laundering. Our cream bath rugs look brown. They're covered in Puppy's muddy paw prints, in no particular order, as if he was doing some frenetic rain dance on top of them hoping to end our drought.
Bills are on a chair next to me as I type this, one on top of another, with a few hanging off the side as if trying to escape. In the pile is a calendar I handwrote. It's an itinerary and to-do list for our summer trip, and like the dishwasher, it's only halfway done.
My husband left me a shopping list that reads "Costco: Paper plates, Izzy Sodas, Pelligrino." Yesterday I logged into Costco online and ordered some compostable paper plates and bowls, but I don't think that's what he pictured when he wrote the list.
All of this is a departure from who I am. It's unsettling. It's uncomfortable. It's intentional.
You see I am consciously changing who I am. I am changing who I am for my family, the outside world, and, most importantly, for me.
My grandmother who raised me was the consummate housewife: she kept an immaculate house, cooked restaurant-worthy meals, and prepared sweet desserts from scratch. Her days were spent ensuring that my brother and I and especially my grandfather were well-fed, clean, and happy. Who I am as a mother and wife is because who she was as a mother and wife.
But if you asked me what her interests or passions or even likes and dislikes were, I couldn't tell you. I couldn't tell you then and I couldn't tell you now. They were buried with her 35 years ago when she dropped dead, boom, of a heart attack at the age of 61 while I was at the Bronx Zoo on a class trip. Maybe she wanted to perform on the stage. Perhaps the smell of lilacs recalled the first time she kissed a boy. Could she have longed to live on the coast of Italy surrounded by bergamot orange and meyer lemon trees because they reminded her of her parents? I will never know.
Just like viewing a polaroid of yourself when you were younger and thinking "I remember that person, but yet I don't" I see myself in a way that is both familiar and unfamiliar. I am still a wife and mother, but I don't do the scutwork in the same way and with the same zeal, because that takes up too much psychic space and energy from who I am. So, who am I?
With intention I tell myself every day "I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a student." Like walking in a new pair of shoes, it feels uncomfortable saying these things, but just as shoes get more comfortable, so too do these statements. Consciously I am not saying "I write. I draw. I go to school." To do so would allow gaps and spaces in, and in these gaps and spaces daily minutia would creep like destructive weeds. A protective wall automatically goes up with the definitive I am.
Because I am now a mother, a housewife, a student, an artist, and a writer, who I am is someone who is complete and being complete allows me to be the best thing of all -- happy.