As usual, it is Sunday, and I am trying to catch up on an entire lifetime of organizing, sorting, arranging, planning, and preparing in an afternoon. I am working on some poems, a new project, an old project, getting together with a friend, and also making my protein peanut butter bars for the week ahead. It is almost 2:00 and I still need to shower and get dressed. When will I learn that it is simply not possible to do everything in one measly day? And now, not only am I trying to make sense of the life of Lisa Vihos, but also the life of Georg Vihos. What am I thinking?
As I am sorting through things, I found a shopping bag full of letters that my mom gave me a while ago. These are letters I wrote to her when I was in college. I have been a little afraid of them because I know they will remind me of who I once was and something about this worries me. I am afraid to see the vibrant, hopeful girl of long ago. I’m afraid I will mourn her exuberance and the dreams she did not pursue. Well.
The bag of letters represents a time before we had cell phones and email. This was before you could leave a voice message on anyone’s phone machine. There were no such things back then. When you wanted to communicate with your mom, you had to write her a letter. You could call on what was called a “telephone.” Living in a dorm at college, that meant that you had to make the call from what was called a “phone booth.” That meant, you had to first send her a letter, planning for a time on a Sunday afternoon in the not-too-distant-but-just-distant-enough future, when you would be making the call and reversing the charges. Only in this way would be sure to find your parents at home and be able to have the voice conversation that you so desired.
How on earth did we ever get anything done back in the day? And yet, we did. We did. I know we did because my letter to my mother describes the flurry of activity that was my life. Apparently, I have always been someone going full steam ahead all the time:
February 15 [1978 – I only know the date for sure from the postmark on the envelope. This would have been the second semester of my freshman year at Vassar. I was seventeen. You see, like I said, I have been on a rocket forever. With apologies to T.S. Eliot, Spenser, Marvell and my French teacher. I cannot remember his name, though I can see his lined and tired face.]
I got the camera today. Thank you SO MUCH! I love it. I hardly had a chance to look at it, though, because today was one of the busiest days I have ever had. It began at 7:00. By 8:00 I had gotten blood drawn at Baldwin [the campus infirmary.] They want to send it somewhere and have it analyzed to see if I did have the Russian flu. I guess a lot of people my age are afflicted by it and they want to develop a vaccine of some sort. Then I went to breakfast. Then to French. Boring. The next hour, which I usually use to laze around in my room, was spent at the library researching a poem by T.S. Eliot. He makes references in his poem, “The Wasteland,” to other poets, in particular Spenser and Marvell. I had to read those poems. We have a paper due on all this garbage next Tuesday. Same day as psyche test. Good god. After the library, Art History, then more library until 1:30. Then, I filled out a form for next year’s campus job. My preference is for guarding the second floor door at Main, a good “sitting” job. Then I raced over to Ballet at 2:00. Then, at 3:30, Dance Theater until 6:00. Then, dinner and library doing reading for Art History. I had to take a break to write to you and relax a little. It’s almost 10:00 now. There was a play tonight in the college center that I really wanted to see, but no way José, not with all the work I have to do. I’m trying to prepare in advance because I want to be able to have a good time this weekend. Oh boy. I have so much to do. I’m so excited for Illia to come here. I’ve already bought the tickets for the dance concert. I HAVE to get Daddy a birthday present tomorrow. The question is, what? I guess I will look for a book in the bookstore and charge it! But I will pay.
Who was this young woman and why did she have to do so much and go so fast? When I set down her letter about an hour ago, I just cried. Sobbed, really. I am crying now as I write. Why did I go have to go so fast? Why? What will it take to slow down and appreciate everything more fully? Death? Georg’s death, my death? Please, no. Please let me learn to go slower without the specter of death hanging over me. Let me learn that I don’t have to be Super Woman at every instant. Sometimes is okay, but not all the time, not in every endeavor.
I hope at my age, I am finally learning that it is thoroughly okay to slow down now and then. I think Georg knew this. I think, honestly, you cannot possibly create anything if you are always moving. This is why hens sit on eggs. In the process of creation, there is something called “incubation.” Motion is good. It’s joyful and it gets the egg fertilized. Incubation is better. It is slow and brooding and lets the egg mature. Birth is painful and so is death, but for different reasons. Life is in between and it is only as super as you make it.