Someone from my old job called me this morning, wanting to catch up and then working around to asking could I edit something for her. She offered to pay me but it would be just too weird; she and I worked quite closely together once, so I said sure, but I'd do it for free. She talked about how crazed everyone at the magazine felt, how her head was just spinning all the time because there just weren't enough people to do the work and she couldn't remember when last she actually saw a season change because she was stuck indoors at the office all the time. As she talked, I realized how happy I was to be out of it, to feel as if my life is my own. Even if I have just a bit too much work at the moment—a very happy problem for a freelancer!—it makes all the difference to know I said a considered yes to everything that is in front of me. Even better, all of it is work that I find interesting and challenging, not frustrating and soul-crushing, as was often the case at the old job, except I didn't understand then that I had a choice.
I said yes to a new project last week, even though I knew it would make everything else feel a little crunched. I'm editing a book for a woman I often edited when I was a magazine editor, and she and her agent really pressed for me to do it, and in the end I couldn't say no even though the money wasn't that great because some things, you just do because you have history with people, and that history is generous and good. All week as I waded into the project, I wondered what on earth I had got myself into, and then, at the end of the week, the smoke seemed to clear and I knew exactly what to do, how to approach the edit, and now I'm immersed. I feel like one of those creatures that imprints on whatever I am working on. The writer's voice gets into my head, and I fall in love with the work and want to help foster it. It's hard to explain, but I am definitely one of the lucky ones in that I fell into a field of endeavor that engages me totally. I know I've said this before, but I wish the same for my children.
My son continues to work two jobs, as a track coach at a high school and as a lifeguard, pool time coordinator and swim coach at a sports club, while waiting to hear from the FDNY about his EMT application. A friend of his who works as an EMT told him to expect it to take a year. In the meantime there is another opportunity in the wings, because wherever this boy works, he willingly takes on more than his job description, and they want to keep him and move him up. But there are some uncertainties. Again, send good thoughts.
The new rector of our church preached her first service this past Sunday and I was there in the pew, so excited that this is who that little badass church had called. I keep hearing more and more about her and her partner that makes me feel as if their guiding the next phase of this church is no accident. Not only are they both ministers who served early in their careers at that church, but they were also married in that church long before gay marriage was legal in New York State. They've been together 27 years and have two sons. They are a biracial couple with deep activist roots, and many members of their old church in Greenwich Village seem to be following our new minister to Harlem. I told my husband that for the first time I have the feeling that I want to be a part of what is happening there.
My cousin sleeps every night in a cot next to her husband's bed because she doesn't want him to die alone. I suggested that maybe Gary would prefer not to die in front of her, and if in fact that happened she should not feel guilty, she should see it as his choice. She said the chaplain at the hospice had told her the same thing, that some people simply cannot die in front of a loved one. My cousins and I all marvel that we are being asked to make these life and death decisions. We have all had such powerful mothers—the six sisters—and have been so used to their stepping into the breach in times of crisis. Now all our mothers are either already dead or, like my own mother, too frail to travel. We try to imagine what they would do if they could and emulate that.
I keep thinking recently how life is just everything at once, the good and the hard, the laughs and the sorrow, the love and the dwindling down, and it just keeps right on trundling along and we better hang on for the ride.