Ibis and Isaias left me to my own introverted devices last weekend while they went to visit Abuelita, and I divided my time neatly between the two halves of my split personality.
On Saturday I put on skinny jeans and went into town. I had a fancy coffee and graded homework assignments. I thought about getting a manicure but didn’t. I wandered around the shops and tried on some clothes, bought a pair of slacks for work, and then had pozole and beer and gossip with some relatives, went home. I was perfectly happy with my day.
On Sunday I woke up early and didn’t even change out of my funky cut-off sweatpants and stained tank top. I spread compost around the garden, cleaned out the chicken yard, built a new compost pile, transplanted chile seedlings and a little tree, cut some grass, dead-headed the dahlias and the zinnias. I collected the eggs and cooked “eggs in purgatory” with fresh oregano and thyme and parsley from the garden, and made mint-lime-lemongrass water with fresh everything from the garden. I was perfectly happy with my day.
I was perfectly happy with my day, and by the end of it, my nails were dirty and broken and my knuckles were scratched and something had bitten or stung my left index finger, leaving an impressive welt, and I thought, what if I had gotten a manicure yesterday? That would have been stupid. And I wondered a little what the hell is wrong with me, that I can contemplate having my nails done one day, and pick up chicken crap with my bare hands the next.
So, okay, I contain multitudes. We all do. If I had had any delusions that I’m alone in this, they would have been dispelled when I turned on the TV Sunday evening and your friend and mine Hannah Montana popped up, lip-syncing her heart out in adorable lady-executive garb, only to run backstage and return in pigtails, a gingham blouse, denim skirt, and cowgirl boots. “You can change your hair, you can change your clothes,” she mouthed, “You can change your mind, that’s just the way it goes.” Tell it, Miley.
It's true, you can change your hair and your clothes, but you can only change your mind about the important stuff so many times before it becomes tiresome and impractical. There are some decisions to be made in the coming months, big ones, and I don’t know which part of me should make them: the sipper of lattes or the builder of compost piles. They want such different things. They have such different concepts of security. One of them feels safe and satisfied when she sees that her paycheck will cover the month’s expenses; the other, when she can make her entire meal from the garden.
I’ve been tempted to break it down into a question of head-vs.-heart, or to condemn the latte-sipper as superficial, but I realized this evening that that’s not quite it.
After supper we were out in the yard. I was admiring a pale green spider sitting inside a magenta hollyhock flower. Ibis was burning the weeds and grass that can’t go into the compost. Isaias was picking sunflower seeds out of the flowers to nibble. I felt a satisfaction so deep it startled me, and I understood it was because that’s what we’re made for. Paying close attention to the natural world, burning stuff, and foraging for things to eat. Never mind that we would starve to death trying to hunt and gather for a living on our tiny scrap of land. It’s not head-vs.-heart: it’s the hunter-gatherer I’m genetically programmed to be arguing with the resident of the twenty-first century I am.
I don’t know how much that realization will help me decide who gets to call the shots, but it always feels better to have things figured out.
(Oh, the other thing I have in common with Miley Cyrus? I've had to delete the photographic evidence because this is a family blog, but let's just say it involves cakes in the form of a portion of the male anatomy. Mine, I would hasten to add, was bestowed upon me by my mother-in-law's prayer group; I'm pretty sure Miley's was her own idea.)