What do we know?
That morning we had breakfast in Calcutta. I sipped the tea steeped from teabags I’d brought with me, unwilling to ever be without those luxuries I’ve deemed necessity, and nibbled at the most frail pieces of toast, the bread so thin I could hardly contain my jealousy. February, it seemed the best time to be there, something about avoiding the monsoons. Now I guess it is known as Kolkata, but then, it was still Calcutta. I simply knew it was a long journey on a train and I was eager for it to be over with as soon as it had begun. When it was, I hardly knew we’d been there at all. I never much cared for it, the traveling. What I remember is being so tired really, already, when I was only twenty years old. I thought, I shouldn’t have left home but everyone does, leave home, or at least everyone used to. But I was so tired already and where is the real rest, and what is the real rest?
Everyone always wants something, and I mean from you. I wanted to sleep. I wanted a big, warm, safe house and a wonderful bed, comfortable pajamas, and I wanted to sleep that deep dreaming, unfettered, unworried sleep, and to wake from it naturally. I then wanted so much to do whatever I wanted, to have to speak to no one and do nothing that I didn’t want to do, and then sleep again. I wanted to do this, sleep in this way, day and day out, until I didn’t want to do this anymore, because I was that tired, because I was that exhausted by the world. That time did not ever seem to happen. There were jobs, of course, you know, we’ve all had those, and lean times, and then there were times when everything was flush and seemingly so good, but then there were chores and children. When the children were raised it was, “Let’s go traveling.” Because we had wanted to see the world and always said we would someday. I still wanted to sleep. I wanted to be wealthy, so I could sleep. Because there’s a tired that gets down there in the soul someplace and it just seems like there isn’t enough sleep to cure it but you never know if you don’t ever get to sleep like that.
What made me so tired? Exactly, what? They were all the time asking and wanting to know and demanding and, like I said, wanting something from me. It was all the stress; it was all the worries of everyday living and thinking, who was I to complain about any of it? What made so different that I shouldn’t just accept that this, was life? I sipped that tea and nibbled at that toast and didn’t know if I’d ever be home again, didn’t know if there was such a place anymore because that place is where you’re safe. I haven’t felt that since before the birth of my first child. Have others ever felt that? That once their children enter the world, though they become adult and leave home, that they can never rest? Do others feel that if their children do not have happy adulthoods, they are somehow responsible for that? It seems a fumbling, parenthood does, as though we bring children into this world thinking I’m really not sure what, and then we are foundering at how overwhelming it is. How many times did I tell my children that they could be anything they wanted to be and then fail at that example? I am so tired. I think I wanted to have known that I had done a good job, that the job was finished, like doing the dishes, so that I could sleep.
They whispered about depression but I was simply so tired. As though I hadn’t the energy to worry about my children and live my life too, for if I had abandoned the worry, what kind of mother would I have been? I do not claim to understand it, only that it always seemed there was so much responsibility and I could not live under it. It seemed it was difficult enough to manage one’s own self and I struggled at that.
I wanted to sleep. Really, what I wanted was to be in love again, the kind of love that takes care of you, the kind of love that not only lets you heal, but wants you to. I wanted the kind of love that understands and accepts. I wanted it to go on and on, that rest, that sleep, that love.
That morning, we had breakfast in Calcutta. He was standing on the platform, that leather doctor’s bag that contained all those things that I needed that were the real reason for the traveling, his fingers wrapped tightly around it, and I thought, “It will be okay.” I smiled at him.
He smiled back.