I've thought about it every day for more than five years. Every hour of every day. It's the first thing I think about when I wake up. The thing I mull over as I go to sleep.
A project that has possessed me. Paralyzed me. Even when I wasn't working on it, even when I have avoided touching it for months at a stretch, it still intruded on every moment. Nagging.
Almost twelve months ago I gave myself a deadline–I would lay this thing to rest in 2009.
Panic started to set in sometime in July.
Frantic, all-night sessions in October.
Long, glassy-eyed periods in November where I couldn't focus on a single thing my children were saying to me unless they spit it out in one coherent sentence, and quickly.
And when, on the 30th of December, I held finally held the thing in my hands, ready to inscribe that one final touch–I could scarcely hold the pen. "I can't do it," I said.
My husband rolled his eyes. "Yes you can. I've seen you sign your name a million times."
He's right. Between the flood of paperwork six children in the public school system generate and signing kids in and out of my care and filing government forms every day, my signature has emaciated itself from nineteen letters to something like three. A "K" at the beginning, a "t" at the end, with a wobble between the two.
But this is different. Should I really use my "ask me if I care, Uncle Sam" signature on something that has taken five years to create?
In the end, I have no other choice. I barely tremble out the muddle of letters in between the K and T. And it is done.
Here it is, the next day and the thing has gone. It feels like it never existed. My brain has become unfastened with nothing to weigh it down. I read five novels in 24 hours and took a shower so hot the walls began to stream and the bathroom ceiling dripped.
And I find myself groping for the next project, clawing away at the slope of my days for such an all-consuming anchor as that has been. Dreading its demands but needing it like food or air or affection.
And look. It's 2010. Here we go. Again.