The swoosh-hiss of cars on wet pavement. In my studio, the fan hums, turning its satellite head back and forth, issuing a tiny arthritic click each time it stretches to its farthest point. It jerks gracelessly along in its preset path – front to side, side to front, and back. It’s rather how I imagine I’d look in an advanced aerobics class.
It's an underwater day. Like looking at the world from just beneath the surface of a lake. The sky is diluted Payne’s grey, cloud and mist. The music of rain.
The grass is patching up green. The Red Maples behind my building – always competing with Forsythia to be first in bloom or leaf – have a peach fuzz growth of leaves. An aura of leaves.
I am happy. The story arc is kind of a gently waving line, really. Wake up, sit down in studio wearing only my bedraggled over sized blue T-shirt. Pick up a needle and thread it. Pick up a bead, and another and then repeat for ten hours – less the time to stuff myself into clothes, shop for food and flowers and have lunch with Weedy. I leave the radio off. I don’t talk on the phone. I don’t check email. I am happy. I even like the weather – below normal temperatures, rain, fog. It’s all watercolor lovely and hushed.
Happy begins yesterday. The Scorpio is visiting in the morning. “Ten, ,” he says. At , I’ve had time enough to clear the debris from the coffee table, dump the dishes into the dishpan to soak. I've just barely stepped out of the shower when he arrives. “I had to come early,” he said. Uh-huh. And here I am with Hair By Showercap, clutching a towel around me and dripping on the rug. This is more chagrined, sopping woman than sexy, I assure you. “Take your time,” he says, with a big magnanimous grin, thoroughly entertained by my discomfort.
What the hell, I wasn’t going to be dressed for long anyway.
I slide into the afternoon – where the story “arc” begins to flat line. I pop in a DVD of Running with Scissors and watch it. Twice in a row. And I loll, boneless and lazy. I loll eating ginger snaps. And then I loll drinking wine. I loll right up to bedtime.
I reflect on the week of not complaining. The one big challenge – a three hour, no coffee break meeting, followed by training to change computer tables. Mute squirming on my part through the usual overextended, rambling off-topic blah blah. I note that while I am not complaining, one woman is. I perk up. Oh good – someone to study. She starts by making a relevant point, but it swiftly descends into a pinched thin monologue about how much work she does and how much is still left and how really, it isn’t even worth it to take two days off when you have to face that when you come back. I’m absolutely fascinated listening to her. I sit up straight in my seat and pay close attention. I know it’s exactly how I sound when I complain. And it’s horrible. We are on item 3 of a 16 item agenda, and we’re an hour into the meeting and she is not clamming up.
I decide to extend the not-complaining experiment for life.
Talking to Weedy on the phone, I say, “It isn’t that hard. I don’t complain as much as I thought I did.”
“That,” she replies, “is because we don’t care about much anymore.” And it’s true. At least it’s true of the bullshit things I used to think were important and worth worrying about. There’s something to be said for telling yourself, when your thoughts start to shove you front to side to front, that you might only have a day, a year, a decade left.
It is enormously cheering and makes complaining seem a little ludicrous.