Coming out of the Dark (January 13, 2011)

It was around the time I found myself sitting in my sister’s closet, sandwiched precariously between my brother-in-law’s suits and casual clothes, willing my body to remain silent and still, that I realized I have been taking myself far too seriously of late.

From the floor below, I heard occasional crashes and the sounds of mild confusion before two little voices pleaded in weary exasperation, “Give us a hint Aunt Becky!”

I am no ventriloquist but I attempted to throw my voice into the hallway as I yelped a quick “upstairs!”

More chaos and giggling ensued until I could no longer help myself. Besides, my right elbow had gone stiff from the modified fetal position I had chosen as my battle stance. Out I leapt, shouting “Here I am!” scaring the beejesus out of my beloved nieces, KK and Rosebud, ages 11 and 3, who ran away screaming and laughing.

Is there any sound more cleansing to the soul than that of happy children? When my sister Jen asked if I could help her out of a jam yesterday, I initially thought of all the bureaucratic business of my own life that would need rescheduling. It’s not that I don’t covet time with my girls, who live more than an hour away, it’s merely that I have allowed myself to be sucked into an unhappy, routine vortex of sending out resumes, interviewing, feeling like a loser when I don’t land the job, repeat. I tend to feel panic and guilt if I am not devoting every spare second toward contemplating my future. The funny thing is, the more I think, the less I move.

Babysitting duties: board games, movies and lunch with Rosebud, before picking up KK from school and taking the girls for an afternoon treat, left me no time, energy or desire for ruminative ill humor. It was the total break from “normal life” that I desperately needed.

I really forgot how good I am at being an aunt. And to fill the role of an auntie is no easy task. One must be game for anything. Throughout the course of the day, the woman who no longer saw herself fit for anything was alternately a horse, a chef (and per Rosebud, the maker of “the best turkey sandwich and pickle ever!”), a cat whisperer, a dancer and a catcher of imaginary butterflies. These may not be skills that an employer seeks when reviewing a resume, but I can tell you from experience, they’re damn valuable.

For the first time since I can remember, I wore a smile unforced. I handed out more hugs and kisses than I can count. I stopped thinking, in a real and honest way, about the burdens I have allowed to turn me a person with whom I’d no longer like to party.

And it must be true that good things happen to those finally ready to receive them, because after a relative dry spell, I was called for not one, but two interviews whilst cuddling the girls, enthralled by Toy Story 3. As always, I will put my best foot forward when speaking with these potential employers, but I am tired of this game, and I vow not to over think it anymore.

I was reminded that at its core, life is mostly a very silly business.

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