The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

March 11, 2010

March malaise

So we have a whirlpool tub in our second bathroom. And for the past few days, whenever I’ve gone in there, I’ve seen a small daddy longlegs spider in the tub, quietly hanging out. Sometimes he’s at one end of the tub, then at the other; I’ve also seen him resting halfway up the tub wall. But I don’t think he can climb out, since it’s been five days now and he’s still there.

When I was a kid, my family vacationed in the Pocono Mountains every summer. One August day, we came back from a hike, and as I washed my hands and looked at myself in the cabin’s bathroom mirror, a large daddy longlegs appeared in my hair, crawling from the back of my head around toward my face. Understatement: This was a very traumatic experience, and let’s just say that now, in adulthood, when I’m very stressed out, I have nightmares in which insects play a starring role. In other words, I’m too much of a wuss to somehow capture the tub dweller and release him outdoors. I also don’t want to kill him. So I guess I’m just watching his slow demise, trapped in a big blank white tub, endlessly attempting to climb the walls with no way out.

Oh, March. The malaise wants to anchor in and I’m trying to knock it back. The days are getting longer—some evenings I’ve been walking Stella in watery, faded light, instead of a solid dark blue—and good spring things are on the horizon, but still, it’s March. Some weeks feel so much like a hamster wheel I can hardly believe it. I think about traveling, camping, about sitting out on the back deck, about going to the farmers’ market and the dog beach, 5k’s and running outside. There are so many things that I do in the warm months that disappear in the cold ones, and I’m left feeling a little bored and one-dimensional.

I’m attempting to combat this in small ways. One day after work last week, I sat in a café with my New Yorker and a chai for an hour, enjoying the bustle of people around me, good words and good tea. Next week I’m going to a fiction reading downtown. I often feel like I should take better advantage of living in the city. I mean, I do things—I see the ballet, attend readings, go to a museum a few times a year (in the past few weeks I’ve done the Art Institute and the Chicago History Museum). John and I usually see three or four concerts a year. I spend a large amount of time eating and drinking with friends. I volunteer once a month at a meal for the hungry. And in the summer we’re out in full force: street festivals, markets, races, the free outdoor concerts in Millennium Park. Then again, I don’t usually feel this way in July.

I guess what it comes down to is that right now, I want more variety in my life, something that’s stimulating and different. I feel like I’m wasting time, which kills me. I’m not doing the things I do during the warmer months, and I feel blah as a result. So a few days ago I decided that I need to take some sort of class… Cooking? A language? Art? (I used to love to draw.) A history or literature course? Ballet? Or, the one that makes the most sense: photography? I’d need to finally buy a DSLR and learn how to use it, which I find so daunting, for some reason, even though I adore taking photos and looking at photos and am often frustrated with my limited little point-and-shoot.

Then, yesterday, a surprise. A bonus—and a totally unexpected one—fell into my lap at work. It was like the universe was saying, Go. Do it. Stop the whining and the malaising and just go.

So I’m going. I’m going to buy a real camera, with a real lens (my friend Jessie provided some terrific guidance on this last fall), and then I’m going to sign up for a real, serious photography class, with computer labs and shooting assignments and everything I need to really take this interest of mine and make the most of it. Even though I’ll do this during spring and summer, when I’ll be busier and more uplifted than I am now, I know I’ll still have the time for it—and this does feel like the right time in my life for such an undertaking. And for photography, the light—the light will be better in spring anyway.

Postscript: To really tie up this entry neatly, I should also say something poetic about rescuing the spider, right? Not sure I’m ready to go that far, but I’m thinking John could fill in…

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