I started feeling under the weather the other day. A cold, the flu, I don’t know. A 19th century doctor might say I’m suffering from “deep melancholia, exacerbated by cessation of potential feminine contribution to the prolongation of the species” or something. I have got to stop reading Germaine Greer, even though I think she’s brilliant. She quotes 15th century poets, doctors in Victorian surgeries to make her arguments but generally disregards all of 20th century popular culture. Making most of the experiences of the first fifty years of my life feel pretty beside the point.
Maybe I should go back to school. It’s that time of year, isn’t it? In France, everywhere you turn it’s “La Rentrée! La Rentrée! La Rentrée!” until you want to scream. The whole country returns to work and to classes on the same day after taking the month of August off (though I noticed, this summer, with the crise and all, a week here or there seemed more likely.)
In the US they stagger going back to school instead of everyone returning the day after Labor Day. The Northeast sticks to that tradition, but down south everyone goes back in the middle of August – supposedly to do with farming. Ohio’s a week later. I don’t know about the rest because I haven’t actually had the chance to live in every geographic region of America.
Which is sad. I would’ve liked to go on being a mom forever, sending children off to school in Bakersfield, in Phoenix, in Saginaw. This year, with Hazel going back to college, I couldn’t help but feel that this is the last time, with the new books and classes and all. Of course I could be wrong – she might get so into academia, she’ll become a perpetual student. But it won’t be on my dime, on my mind, like it is when they’re young. And if it is, that probably means I haven’t found a way to move on with the rest of my life.
It’s that damn hopefulness at this time of year that gets me down – not in January, but now, when it’s all starting up again. Like this will be the one. I had it last summer, when our album came out. That surge of positivity, that naive energy. You ride it for a while, and then it peters out. Leaving a great big pile of dead leaves. To what? Contemplate? Jump in? Mulch.