It's the first day of school in NYC today. I know we're behind many parts of the country, but even so, I haven't said good-bye to summer yet. I haven't made my peace with fall. Usually the sweltering heat and humidity make it easy to bid summer farewell, but we haven't had much of those this year. Just a lot of delicious days and lazy adventures. My girl, who must have grown a foot over the summer, goes to First Grade today, and a year from now the little one will go with her. I trimmed their hair last night so Amelia's has a cute little flip in the back, and they are wearing matching navy dresses with pleated skirts--British school uniforms my aunt and uncle brought back to them from England.
I've always thought there was a way in which you could prepare for events, for days like this one that grab you somewhere in the chest, that would somehow innoculate you from the hard feeling of living them. Like this: If I finish my Christmas shopping by September, I won't have so many bits to be anxious about come December. But it's not that clean-cut. See, while that kind of planning does spare me from standing in crowded shops and endless lines, it also ensures that my Christmas anxiety lasts that many months longer.
I did what I could for today. I made sure she had something to wear that made her feel like it's a special day. I bought some notebooks and pencils. But it all lacked the usual fervor--I was passionless, like with a lover who you already know will betray you.
Just as I suspected, the day is here, and I still have to live it.
I still have to walk her to the building and watch it swallow her up. I still have to turn to Lucy, who says she's ready to go to her camp now, and swim in her loneliness with her all morning long. I still have to feel the way these long limbs and this sharp-angled body won't fit in my lap for much longer. Buying the pencils ahead of time? Not really helping right now.
I think this is somehow the key to unlocking my obsession with overpreparation. I'm already letting it go like a kite whose string I don't even plan to hold once it gets to the end. All the organizing, packing, cleaning, doing--it doesn't spare me from feeling the way I feel in the moment. I still have to be with my fear or my sadness.
Life isn't a subject I can cram for and master ahead of time. I can't live this day until it's here, and knowing it's coming, trying to wield preparation as some kind of shield, doesn't spare me from a thing.