Nothing To Do But Jump

I am not really an app person, and though my phone is full of all the apps in the world c/o my six-year-old, I couldn’t tell you how to play any of the games on pain of death.

Video games, now – those I like, ever since I discovered the joys of Duck Hunt at the tender age of six (when parents all over the country simultaneously decided that it was a good idea to give their elementary schoolers pretend rifles and let them pretend-kill defenseless little birds). Kendrick and I had a brief (albeit rapturous) dalliance with Angry Birds back when we first started living together. I will happily play Super Mario with my son all night, every night because Super Mario is wonderful. And – just saying – I will take you DOWN in MarioKart (oh, yes I will). But when it comes to Candy Crush and Farmtown (or whatever it’s called) or any of those other app-type games that I always see people posting about on Facebook?

Not really my thing. My phone is for looking at clothing I cannot afford to buy, watching Bachelor In Paradise from my bathtub, and accidentally and horrifyingly butt-dialing exes and frenemies.

So why, right now, am I sitting at my desk knowing that I should really be making my way through my endless, endless list of must-be-returned emails…and staring longingly at my phone, where the little DoodleJump app is sitting right there, all adorable and wanting to be played? I am not a procrastinator. I’ve been working from home for ten years, and have developed phenomenal self-motivational habits. I rarely even take a break to eat lunch; if I’m home and my children are otherwise occupied, I am working, because any second that I’m not working is a second that I am ravaged with guilt and the awareness of un-checked-off to-do lists. (I am aware this is not exactly healthy, but there you go.)

But right now – for maybe the first time in my life – I don’t want to work. I don’t want to do anything. Or at least not anything that matters.

I don’t want to return emails. I don’t want to update my LinkedIn, or fine-tune my resume, or craft compelling proposals for potential clients. And I definitely don’t want to hustle, hustle, hustle. I’ve been hustling for nearly a decade. I know I have to, now more than ever…but I’m just so tired.

Not just tired: exhausted. Physically, emotionally, in every which way. I go to sleep late because I can’t stop refreshing Trulia, hoping some new, perfect place will pop up that somehow escaped me on the fifteen other searches I did that day. All night long, I wrestle my way through dreams that really aren’t dreams at all; they feel more like bad memories and scary visions of the future, all playing in a loop on the movie screen of my closed eyelids.

I wake up early because sleep feels like a luxury I cannot afford, and because the thought of being alone for a minute sounds nice. But I’m still so tired, and so I tiptoe into the backyard, wrap myself in the rainbow-striped Mexican blanket Kendrick surprised me with that one time, and lay still for as long as my children will let me. And every morning, laying there and watching the sun rise and wanting nothing more than to fall back asleep, I think to myself how much I wish I could take it back. All of it. Just rewind time and start again from a place where I can keep telling myself that everything is fine, everything is great, we can go on like this forever. And maybe then, eventually, I’ll believe it.

I know what people say. “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” “Baby steps.” “One day at a time.” I know. Except “putting one foot in front of the other” would be easy, if that was all I had to do. What I have to do instead is break up my world into tiny crumbs, and then use my bare hands to mold them back together, hoping they can still cling to each other and make something that looks a little bit like life.

But I don’t want to do that.

You know what I want to do? I want to lay down and hold my children in one arm, both of them snuggled up together and not fighting (this is a fantasy, remember). With the other hand I want to find first the TV remote, and then Spy Kids on Netflix, and then, while the kids settle in to watch, my phone.

I want to scroll through my apps until I find the right one. And then, for a few minutes, I want to be a little green alien with nothing to do but jump, and nowhere to go but up.

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