Experiment on Joy #1

 

                                               Life is Good

            It is 7:52 p.m. The sky is turning a blackish-blue, a far cry from the yellow paint color I have been imagining for my kitchen. Upstairs, my husband, Eric, is making the plastic Stegosaurus talk and asking our five-year-old son, Asher, to lie down for hair rinsing. I hear my name strewn about like dandelions in a grassy field of puddles, as the splashing water trails the insides of the tub.

Down here in the living room, I am groaning inside like a radio trying to find the proper reception while I stare at the “Life is good” slogan on my pink t-shirt that’s two sizes too small, now that I am 43. I am left in silent awe, as the sun falls over the edge of the world, about the people making a bazillion dollars off of such an ordinary affirmation. Damn those phonies, I think to myself, and who do they think they are anyway? Telling everyone “Life is good.” It is like they knew how stupid the world is, how we would all hop on some “Life is good” bandwagon and decree that finding joy only takes slapping on a bumper sticker.

Life isn’t “good,” it is sticky and muddy and wet. It is full of unexpected deluges and dandelions being crushed thoughtlessly underfoot. It’s full of sunny days holding onto their last final, fading breaths by 8:03 p.m.

And suddenly, there is laughter bouncing down the stairs like a runaway ball. There’s the tiny, toy-like voice of my son, and I begin hanging onto every word, or at least I would if the sound of the computer keys were not beating right there beneath my nose. It doesn’t matter what he is saying exactly; it’s the rosiness of his voice that turns the light a different color.

The sunset is new again, all shiny and pink, and God damn if I don’t think to myself, “Life is good.”

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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