Tidying the Spaces Left Empty & Childhood Personas
I spent the morning cleaning my office at the school--sorting through old papers, recycling things, cleaning. I don't know why I do this. Perhaps a habit acquired from my mother, who constantly cleaned our house before any long trip. Her reasoning was that she hated to come back to a dirty house.
And I suppose I hate to come back to a dirty office. My office is clearly a reflection of my mind, and it needs to be held together, otherwise parts of my life spiral out of control. In fact, my office at home is quite untidy. Over the months since the 1-yr-old was born, I've been acquiring books that have no homes. I'll probably need to visit the used book store soon, to surrender the neglected books in my collection, but I'm often loathe to do so. I just surrendered a number of literary journals to my graduate students, who'll find greater use for them, I'm sure.
In the meantime, I'm picking up odds and ends before my hiatus. I imagine I will come back to my office every once-in-awhile to get my campus mail, but I plan on being as scarce as possible, lest I get sucked into old habits.
I'm definitely a nester. I like to be surrounded by books and papers when I'm in the process of writing. I like to pull books from nearby shelves and have several poetry books open all at once when I'm writing. That part of my office has been hampered now that there's a spare crib in there, in front of my book shelves.
Not lost on me is the symbolic weight of such an image--the crib before the shelves.
My son is now Wall-E. He has been Wall-E for two weeks. Anytime I call him by his real name, he corrects me.
"I'm Wall-E." he says. "I have wheels."
I called him, "Buddy," and he corrected me.
Once I called him "Super Wall-E."
He said, "I'm Wall-E. Just plain Wall-E." My robot son has no use for modifiers.
Meredith and I chatted about our own personas when we were kids. Meredith was Mercedes. I was Billy. So, during dinner with the boys, we decided to call each other by our childhood persona names. "Mercedes, please pass the peas." "Sure, Billy. Wall-E, would you like some?"
My robotic son looked at us strangely and asked us, "Why are you Billy? You're not Billy. You're daddy." A whole string of whys followed, so Meredith and I abandoned our personas.
Every morning, I ask my son "Who are you today?" And so far, every morning, the answer has been "Wall-E." He is so insistent on this new persona. He holds on to it, as though nothing else matters.
One time this week, I persisted in calling him by his real name and he broke down into tears. I decided to abandon that approach and let him be the person he wants to be. It's a hard lesson for me, but I'm learning.