Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting Ready

Brian G. Fay - February 23, 2015
Getting Ready

Prior to typing these first words I typed my name, a space, a hyphen, another space, and the date. I added the title though I had only a vague idea what this piece might be. I clicked Insert, Page number, Bottom of page, then centered it the way things should be. Finally, I formatted the title hit enter twice, and then gave the file a name. 

That all done, I was ready to write. 

The preparation is a problem, keeping me from diving right in. I would prefer some automatic way to prepare the document but Google Docs doesn’t do that well. It’s a bit clunky, but clunky and slow are good for me sometimes. I could skip the preparation and just begin typing, save the formatting for later, but there is something about getting ready that I need right now. 

Looking to type this document, I saw an old one entitled “Getting Ready for a Trip.” That’s what started this. That document is a simple packing list. Tired of trying to remember, I listed each item I took on our last trip.  Then, returning home, I edited from list the things I hadn’t needed. Getting ready for trips fits with the ways in which I get ready to write with one difference: I want to streamline packing so that I can get on with the trip, but I delay writing these days because I’m wary of entering into my grief. 

How do I get ready for life without my father? 

I make a list. Get up each morning. Stand, gather clothes, walk downstairs. Use the bathroom. Pull on a sweatshirt if it’s cold. Fill the kettle and set it to boil. Grind coffee and assemble the press. Clear the dishes. When the water boils, make coffee and rinse out the press. Those things done, go to the basement and write three pages longhand. I’m ready. 

The rest of the day is the same. Clear the driveway of snow. Take the garbage to the curb. Drive crosstown to the school at which I teach. Turn on the computer, put my coat away, plan the classes. Get ready. 

Afternoons return home. Someday I’ll go for a run, but not right now. Too cold, too sad. Go through the mail. Check what we to make for dinner. Get ready for the girls to all come home. Do the things that might get me ready for the evening, the rest of the day. What are those things and how do I prepare for the next wave of emotion? I don’t know. I may never be ready and I may always be ready. Mostly, I’m somewhere between. 

Today I went back to work for the first time since Dad died. I wasn’t ready, but had to go. I could have taken more time off, my colleagues and employer are generous, but I had to go. Yesterday I wrote about getting back in the world. I’m never going to be ready for that, but I’m getting ready. My name and the date are atop the page. I have a title that will do for now. The page numbers and font are set. Any moment now I’ll start typing the rest of my life. Or maybe I’ve been doing that all along, the words coming as a surprise. Tiny lights in the darkness.