23 January 2012
I like a Monday that starts well.
When I think of the Mondays of my late childhood and adolescence I can still feel the dread which would actually start around 4pm on Sundays, dread of going to school with homework not done, or done badly; the punishment that would inevitably ensue, the staying late after school and doing lines. No, not coke. That came later. Lines were, for instance, writing 100 times “I must complete my homework on time or risk punishment.” Duh. The punishment itself was ok, if boring. It was the judgment and shame that went with it that was dreadful.
In my mid to late teens, living alone in London, Mondays often started later than required, having spent the weekend, dancing, drinking and dating I needed Monday’s to recover. But work as a secretary called, if I was to pay my rent on time, not to mention feeding and clothing myself, with just enough left over for cigarettes and cheap theatre seats.
It wasn’t until my mid-thirties when I opened my own hair salon that Monday mornings ceased to be a thing of dread; Mondays being the day salons traditionally close. Of course it just transferred Monday to Tuesday. Which strikes me as interesting now, in that I loved my work then, loved holding people’s heads in my hands, loved sculpting their new-you-in-the-shape-of-a-hairdo. So, why the Tuesday morning resentment? I guess I’ve always disliked having to show up at the appointed time. Something to think about there, eh?
But I digress. This Monday morning started off well because we pretended it was Sunday, having spent Sunday in the country we’d been unable to have our traditional English breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast with marmite and marmalade, all washed down with a pot of good strong PG Tips. So there it all was this morning like a bonus, the two of us like truant kids, giggling over what we’d got away with. But we’re not truant kids and so there was none of that dread of discovery waiting for us, just an extra piece of toast and Vivaldi’s Oboe Concerto heralding Monday morning.
And then more reprieve. I thought I was going to have to spend the morning going over the Provence text with the editor. Instead I got an email from her saying, “It’s done.” Wow. I don’t have to look at it again until it’s in layout when I’ll have one last chance to make changes.
This is the first Monday in my whole life that I got my homework in on time…and it passed!
Now the light has gone from this day, not that it ever had much. A wan day out there, the river and sky without definition, water and air as close to colorless as pale grey can get. An old writing student of mine, whom I haven’t seen in fifteen years, stopped by for tea and we swapped stories, as writers do. A courageous woman who has re-invented herself many times over, always willing to let go and move forward into the next adventure.
And of course, you cannot visit with someone you haven’t seen for such a long time without marveling at the distance traveled in one’s own life. Fifteen years ago I’d stopped resenting having to show up on Monday mornings, but I was still afraid I wouldn’t pass muster. And indeed, instead of teachers and bosses and clients, it was editors I had to submit to, and instead of punishment it was rejection that was meted out.
But today, on this Monday, I got to experience success as a writer and kudos as a teacher. And I didn’t have to take credit for the soft-boiled eggs, cooked to perfection by my husband.