Friday, March 30, 2012

The Last Days of the Month

A turtle stepping stone stands watch over my greens.

March is over. We're in the final stretch. We closed the magazine. People aren't in the office. It's a time for resting, recovering, readying. I've been living my life on the last days of the month for so long, I don't know any other schedule. My months are always a frantic climb to get it all done, to finish, to sign off, to let it go, to come to a rest and a recover. Even my daughters complied with this schedule. Both of them arrived in this world just days after deadline. Once a friend said to me, "you have no idea what it's like to live without a deadline." The statement stopped me cold. He was right.

I think I'd fall apart. How would you organize your life if you had longer than four weeks of five days, excepting holidays, to finish? The thought is you'd take deeper breaths? Slow down? Me? No way. I might at first, fail completely to get anything done? Would the laundry pile up? The leftovers rot? The weeds and the grass take over? Maybe like in college, after an all-nighter, I'd finally sleep deeply? (Those days are gone forever, I suspect.)

So I took the day off today. I know I'm messing with fire, because that's one day less for the next cycle, but I'm going to pretend for a moment that I have all the time in the world. (Except, in a minute Jim's going to make me drive him to the subway, and Caley will need a walk, and I really need to make those doctor's appointments for Claire, and we're having Friday night here tonight and we're out of wine and limes and cointreau, and I want to go for a run, and mow the lawn, and turn the compost, and go to the community garden to water my greens, and oh what else can I do to turn my day off into a day on?)

It's on that dash, remember the famous line that Jesse Jackson read at Jackie Robinson's funeral, that we live our lives. From the day of the birth to the day of death. The dash on the tombstone is were life lives. Not, the dash from the beginning of the month to the end. Nor, the dash from the start of the growing season to first frost. Nor is it the dash from the chime of the radio in the morning to the droop of the eyelid at night.

I realized, though, this winter as I ordered foundation plants to decorate my new fence in the backyard garden that I might be closing in on the final frontiers of my garden. That after I put in these final pieces, I might be finished. All that would remain is moving plants from here to there, and maintenance. Does that mark an end date or the deadline of my garden. One of my friends asked me what would be next?

What do you do next? When gray sparkles in your hair and the kids are living away more often than home? When you mark a significant anniversary in your career, the kind they give you a cheesy pin for?

What's cool about that dash between birth and death is that it's longer than you think. It's got some time built into it for thinking about possibilities and opportunities. The maybes are kind of exciting. Garden metaphors abound. The tiny green elbow of a future plant poking up through the soil on a crispy, cool spring morning.

But I don't have too much time today to think about that, because really, no matter what you do, there's always a deadline. The Putterer

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