It's 12:39 AM. I'm awake.
These midnight hours are familiar to me; we've come to know each other well in these last many months. I've run out of my sleeping pills (yes, I'll refill them), and that is often the acquaintance that introduces me once again to my old friend, Midnight.
But tonight it's not bad. It's okay. I'm okay.
There aren't flashbacks happening in my head, the trailer reel of specific horrifying moments. I do feel them whispering and wakeful though, so I won't nudge that monster.
So many writing ideas come to my mind in that half-awake place, and I think to myself, "Remember that one. Write about it tomorrow." And I put myself to sleep by reciting the list of ideas over and over, promising myself I'll remember. But usually I have forgotten when sunshine brings the morning dance. (This is why many writers keep a notebook and pen at their bedside table.)
Tonight, I indulged. Oh, just get up already, Tricia. Go write.
So I sit at my kitchen table, a most inviting work space when it is clear and my kitchen is clean. I'm wearing a favorite hoodie over my jammies because Robb conditioned me to keep the house at a frigid temperature at night. That's what I prefer now, all these years later. I've poured myself a coffee mug of water, because coffee mugs are my favorite to drink from (a large reason I learned to drink coffee) but steamed milk is gross and a pot of decaf seems like a major undertaking. Water it is.
Here's what I want to write about: a waitress tray.
I was a waitress (or server, for the more current and politically correct term, or Food Transport Consultant for those who need to put it on their resume) for six years in high school and college. I started at Friendly's, a chain restaurant in the midwest that features ice cream and sandwiches. (Let's hear it for the Fribble.)
In the later years, as I moved up in the restaurant world, we didn't use trays to deliver food to the guest. We had a careful choreography of balancing plates and bowls up the length of the arm, through the crook of the elbow, and resting on the shoulder.
But that's hard to do with ice cream sundaes. So we used trays - round and brown, always stained with sodas and syrups by the end of the night.
It was daunting at first, but I learned the balancing act. And I did just fine with a steady tray of a half dozen sundaes or more, as long as some schmuck didn't reach up to take the one he ordered. I couldn't explain the science of it, because in case you haven't noticed, I'm more of an adverb girl and not so much a physics specialist. In other words, I don't know how I'm doing this, but I am. So please don't touch the tray.
I'm in a good place right now. I've found a good rhythm. Both feet are under me, and I'm standing.
I can't really explain it. Maybe it's the passing of more than nine months; maybe it is this short reprieve from holidays and anniversaries; maybe it is the cocktail of medications; maybe it is exclusively the grace of God; maybe it's all of the above. I don't know - and frankly, I don't really care. It just feels really good to be okay.
I've found a careful rhythm for our days, and the boys are doing really well (with the exception of the classroom reminders to stay in one's personal space). I've resumed the evening routines once again, dismissing my parents after nine months of sharing the dinner, baths, and bedtimes of nearly every evening together. It is a tremendous sign of my emotional health: I am looking for my independence.
A handful of successful afternoons and nights with my little boys, and voila! I feel like I've left for college all over again. My support team is nearby, but I'm stretching my wings and giving this a go.
July, August, and September were a hard push, a strong current. I have a little time to float downstream, to catch my breath before we hit the rapids of the holiday season and all the newness they will bring to our home. For now, I'm catching a little sunshine.
And it feels really, really, really good.
(I just made a trip upstairs when Tucker woke up calling me because he dropped his water bottle off the top bunk, and then I made a second trip when Tyler woke up crying because "I couldn't find you sleeping right beside me, Mommy." And that's my cue. Better wrap this thing up.)
Anyway, bottom line: I don't know how I'm doing this, but I've found a rhythm and a balance that seems to be working well. I'm doing it.
(As long as some schmuck doesn't topple the tray.)