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Once upon a time, I was a comet. I flitted from job to job, person to person, and place to place. Most of the time I was not happy, but there are pieces of my journeys that don’t cause extreme discomfort when they intrude on my consciousness. The funny thing was that, at the time anyway, I knew I was unhappy but never considered that floating aimlessly through space and life was the cause of the unhappiness.
Now, most days, I orbit our kitchen table. I earn there. I cook and clean there. Often I create there. And when I stop to look at my trail these days, I realize it’s a million miles from where I once thought I wanted to be.
I’m glad I had adventures – even if most of them were misadventures – as a young adult. I don’t think I would appreciate the beauty of mundane family life in the same way if I hadn’t. And, in the last few months, as I’ve participated in a writing workshop at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, NY, I’ve come to appreciate it in a new way.
When I first started this blog – writing about my domestic un-goddessness, I felt I had surrendered. Our early group discussions had emphasized the value of finding stories close to our own lives, but everyone in our group seemed to be living much more interesting lives. I still think they are in many ways, but I no longer see the search for stories in the low-grade domestic chaos that is my life as a work-at-home-mom as a cop-out.
Searching for my stories has made me infinitely more aware of other writers’ search for a bigger meaning in the mundane. As I started writing about laundry half a dozen times (can I ever escape that?) I start to notice similar simple themes in books I once loved for their love stories or their settings.
Tolstoy once wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Personally, I think most families are somewhere in between happy and unhappy and each in their own way. However, I have come to believe that happy writers are all alike in that they have been lucky enough to find value the stories that are in someway close to their lives (and some of us have very active fantasy lives that hover invisibly over the kitchen table). And in discovering the meaning of their stories, they begin to find a new meaning in their lives. At least that’s how it is on the trail around my kitchen table.