I have no logical excuse for the sparsity of my blog posts this summer. I’ve basically been on vacation the whole time, which sounds extremely lazy, but judging by the number of TV shows I have binge-watched and Pinterest recipes I have tried, I’ve clearly had a lot of time on my hands. Time during which I could have been writing blog posts. Time which I chose to spend studying for the GRE (which I took two weeks ago, praise be to Zeus), sleeping, and sometimes running. Yeah, I run now, go figure. Never would have called that one myself, yet here I am, with a pair of fancy expensive running shoes and I actually get legitimately antsy on days when I don’t get some kind of exercise in. Literally shocking. Anyway, please don’t hate me for A) not updating this blog as often as I should, and B) subsequently bragging to you about how much “nothing” I’ve been doing all summer when you probably have a real job taking up all your time. Feel free to close your browser window now if I’ve offended you.
Okay, onto today’s post. Now that I’ve crossed the GRE off my summer checklist, my brain has had a lot of time to do what it does best: freak out. I’ve been feeling pretty anxious lately, mostly about self-centered, aimless twentysomething problems. What if my third year at my job isn’t as good as I’m expecting it to be? What if my girls hate me this time? What if I don’t get into grad school? What if I do get into grad school but have no way to pay for it? My head has been a jumble of all these things, plus countless others, in the recent days. I lie in bed at night, listing off the ways I could potentially screw up my life, or reasons the path I’ve chosen for myself won’t work out. I wake up in the morning and add more items to the list. Then, because I feel a toddler-style meltdown coming on, I try to remind myself that I just have to keep living my life and things will work out.
But, sorry, today that shit just wasn’t working for me.
Truthfully, my usual creative outlet of writing has been rather difficult lately. A professor once told me never to delete anything you write, so I’ve got a handful of half-written stories, essays, and blog posts on my computer from this summer alone, but none of them have seemed worth finishing right now. Even my tiny notebook that I carry with me in my purse so I can write down sudden bursts of inspiration or topics I want to explore has proved useless recently. And when I sat down today, my mind a jumble of worries and my stomach in knots, writing just wouldn’t happen. I browsed my half-written pieces, my list of funny quips and phrases I had hastily jotted down in my notebook, but nothing came of those. And I couldn’t sit still, just staring at these fragments of thoughts. I knew I should force myself to do it, but what can I say, I’m weak.
So I got in my car. I didn’t have anywhere specific I needed to go, but I wanted to drive. When I’m at school and need to get away, the nice part about going “into town” is that I have a 20 minute drive between me and my destination during which I can clear my head, sing along with the car radio, sob quietly to myself, or just decide where I’m actually going. But when I’m at my parents’ house, there are no country roads between me and the nearest Walgreen’s. I can’t drive for awhile without more or less planning out a route. My family always jokes that you can get anywhere in town in ten minutes or less, and sure, that convenience is nice when you’re in a hurry most days. But today, I was longing for the twisty, two-lane highway drive that I had taken so many times with no real purpose. I wanted to drive for awhile and maybe just end up at Lake Michigan. But that wasn’t an option, so I decided to take the highway to the south of town, because, well, what else was I going to do?
I ended up at Target. Go figure. I wandered around, bought some nail polish and a shower cap (don’t ask me why), and then realized I had no other reason to be there. I got back in my car, closed my eyes as I scrolled through my iPod for a new album to listen to, and when I opened them, one of my favorite Andrew Bird songs started playing. It seemed like a sign, so I took a deep breath, got back on the highway, and drove. I turned the volume up and let the soaring strings and plucky interludes soak into my ears. The music swelled and filled up my whole car, and nothing else was in my head but those sounds and how perfect they were. Suddenly, I no longer had a painful knot in my stomach, and my fingers had ceased their relentless tapping on the steering wheel. Maybe it’s the fact that music is rarely absent from my life, but I guess I had forgotten the power of the perfect song at the right moment. And as the song faded out, I felt more at peace than I had in quite awhile.
Eventually, I got home and I was greeted by the familiar barking of two excited dogs. I watched their eyes light up as I walked in the door and I let them jump all over me, thrilled that I was merely in front of them. I don’t believe in god, but if I did, I would have thanked him right then for creating animals who, no matter what you have going on in your life, will always look at you with the same joy and enthusiasm when you return home to them. It’s such a perfectly predictable expression of love. I wish I could think like a dog more often. Then maybe days like today wouldn’t seem as overwhelming.
So, while I went for a drive hoping that rolling the windows down and getting out of the house might clear my head, or that I would find inspiration somewhere new and exciting, what really ended up saving my afternoon was two things that have always been around in my life. And tonight, maybe I’ll feel anxious again while I try to fall asleep. Maybe I’ll lie awake, wishing I could remove my brain from my head just to get some peace and quiet. But right now I just feel grateful that I was able to sit down and write this post, finally. And it’s all thanks to a Bird and some dogs. I guess sometimes inspiration can come from the most routine parts of your life.