Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Last night I had a dream I was washing my hair (I could feel it too, my hands moving through the thick pile of hair, my fingers raking my scalp) outside the shower. This morning, my husband woke me in a bemused tone, "Um, this may sound strange, but I can't take a shower because it's too hot." I moaned, pointed at the alarm, eight minutes left, seriously, and said I'd be down, just wait, and no, I didn't touch the water heater (nor do I entirely know which chunk of metal it is in that frightening part of our basement our friend Jay dubbed the Vortex of Hell--and when have I ever ventured there alone?).

He came back and told me our water heater was leaking; today he remains home, working, waiting for a repairman to come and install a new hunk of metal. This morning, I showered not in the shower, but just next to it, dipping my head under the steaming water, my hands piling hair in sudsy sculptures.

I've dreamt strange premonitions before.

But strangest of all is knowing when something is right. When I met Ryan, I cannot explain it, but I knew that he was it for me. I was only nineteen years old, still not over the torment of my last disastrous relationship, and in another fling with someone else. But there was a spark deep inside myself that lit the world up--and I knew. So many years later, we began house hunting, peering into other people's lives, some acceptable, some I even pushed for, two we returned for a second look. But when we walked into the house we have now, it was as if sparklers were lit in my veins. I knew.

Certain things belong in sequence. Certain things fall together. Sometimes I struggle to find out why it was that I taught high school English for three years. What lesson have I learned here? I could list ideas, but I can just as quickly refute the formula: perhaps it was so I could become a better instructor and prepare me for college teaching, but then why did it have to be these three long years? Or I could say I learned that teaching high school wasn't my cup of tea, though I didn't despise this past year--why was that thrown in? Or why did an opening occur at this high school--why couldn't it have been that neat pattern of one year replacement and a mutual agreement that my departure makes sense?

I do know that the decision I made, the one you are tired about hearing, was the right one. I close my eyes, imagine myself returning to teaching full time and staggering through the low-res MFA; the balance of those two worlds horrifies me. I don't think I could have tamed both beasts properly, without regret. I close my eyes, imagine saying no to the full ride, to the three years of focusing on poetry and the written word, and I cringe. This is right. Perhaps I shouldn't question everything that has come before.

But it's so hard to resist: Maybe teaching high school for three years wasn't about teaching high school for three years. Maybe it was about bringing myself to a more mature, more appreciative, more experienced place as a poet. Maybe I wasn't ready to go straight into an MFA program. Maybe I needed to marry the man who was it the moment I met him and bought the house I knew was it the moment I walked in. I might not have had them if I'd taken a different path.

1 comment:

EWH said...

I hope my dreams are not premonitions. Last night I dreamed I was showing off pictures of my grandchildren...but I was the same age I am now. I think children would be a good precursor.

Sorry about your water heater. We had to get a new furnace last February and those couple of days without heat in the dead of winter were not fun. Cold water, I think would be better than scorching.