By Maria Padhila
On some rare occasions, all of us involved in this triad want the same thing at the same time, and that thing is a nap.
We’re all at the busy season — the nature of Issac’s and Chris’s work, though very different, is seasonal. My work just happens to be busy right now. I suppose it beats the alternative, which many people I know are suffering through right now.
Then there’s my favorite burn coming up, and this year that event is fraught with difficulty and confusion; the spring burner show, which we weren’t going to do, but now there’s a smaller version brewing; the month-long annual art and performance that wasn’t annual last year but has suddenly roared back into life; another arts festival starting up that I want to help with; the surge in outdoor activities, which means more running, more races; my daughter got tapped for a dance group that means I spend an hour or more as chauffeur; and there’s a garden to put in.
Winter had no breaks. Isaac and I both are getting sandwiched as both sets of our parents face health problems that need our help and attention. A stupid routine physical for insurance uncovered a problem of my own that I have to get corrected. Luckily, I can wait until the day after Mercury goes direct for an outpatient surgery. We’re trying to plan summer childcare and vacations and family time and never knowing who is going to be sick — or worse. No one knows when their job will end or when a sniper will start shooting.
And there’s that end of the world thing, too.
It’s very easy to let it snowball, to go out of control and catastrophize. When the three wheels on the “tricycle,” as Isaac’s brother calls our design for living (and he’s visiting in a week, so that needs to be planned for as well) start going in three different directions, well, they fall off.
One recent Sunday there was some dispute about who I would spend time with. I usually spend Fridays with Chris, and he adjusts his work accordingly. Some Fridays I have to work or help friends or relatives with child care, so I usually plan a make-up date. If Isaac gets one of his rare days off on the make-up date day, he thinks I should drop it, because he can’t adjust things as easily. Isaac usually feels my make-up dates are already accounted for by the long weekends Chris and I get to spend together. Chris feels like Isaac shouldn’t kick, because he gets whole weeks away with me, and every night besides.
On that Sunday, deux ex machina, there in my phone showed up a notice that there would be a show rehearsal. I texted both of them. Chris’s response was to tell me to blow off rehearsal. I think you can imagine the kind of reception that got. Isaac thought it would be fine for me to go to rehearsal, because at least I wouldn’t be adding to the Chris time.
Three different directions.
Then rehearsal was canceled. I spent the morning with Isaac, then I went out and dug the garden with Chris. Nobody was entirely happy, but somehow, it works out.
I don’t know which I hate more: missing out on something, or doing a half-assed job at it. This is what Isaac pointed out to me, as I tried to tell him how I could manage to get everything done: “You beat yourself up when you don’t do what you feel is a good job at all this,” he said. “And what happens when you’ve got too much going on? I get marginalized, is what I’m seeing.”
I can’t let that happen.
I’ve reached that point where things curve back in on themselves, where busyness goes into this bizarre quantum direction where you can’t even see what you’re missing or where your time is going because you can’t stop long enough to figure it out. There’s a poly therapist I’d like to consult, but I don’t have time. I can’t even get much help from astrology — my Planet Waves subscription is messed up, and I haven’t had time to call and fix it. It’s laughable. Last night I had a dream that I couldn’t walk a straight line — literally. I had to dance, slide, weave, pull myself along, and I had three or more miles to go to get to work.
The only thing that helps is being old enough to know that none of it really matters too much in comparison with my top priority. I’m in the moment with my daughter, whenever I’m with her. I can pay her good attention, talk, laugh. There’s a kind of yoga to keep myself from getting snappy and stressed out when I’m with her. It works as long as it’s just her. Add one or more other people asking for something from me, and I start getting unable to complete a sentence.
But when I ‘set aside time’ and let nothing else interfere, it’s as if I have escaped time. I have evenings with Isaac where I entirely forget work and all that I have to do and just enjoy being with him, riffing on things we’ve seen in the news, telling him my new weird ideas, cooking… that day in the garden with Chris, I lost track of time. All I have to do is know there’s a block no one else can interfere with, and it’s as if we’re on a different time track from the rest of the world. Technology, when it’s used right and when I’m in that multi-tracking mode, can enhance the effect: if I text one or the other, for instance, it’s as if I’m both inviting them into the time I’m living and as if I’ve doubled my available amount of time.
I was trying to explain this to Chris, and he started telling me about a woman he knows who collects different kinds of time, and I realized he thought I had said “thyme.”
Every spring equinox I make a collage out of magazine pictures and words. It’s a goofy, primitive, 13-year-old girl magic, but one I’ve found works powerfully. It’s at least as strong as the ‘root work’ of my ancestors. I’ve always worked magic with the materials that come to hand: salt, dirt, a scrap of brown paper bag, a piece of red ribbon from a package. And who’s to say the magic of a 13-year-old girl isn’t the strongest ever? This year I focused my vision and desire on my ongoing struggle with time and money. That Saturn, he’s been running back and forth over my natal Mars, Mercury, and Sun in Libra like a Caterpillar backhoe on a McMansion construction site. I’ve always had my struggles with Father Time, with the Saturn/Mars square that sits on my enthusiasm and stomps out my will. A few years back, I did a serious piece of magic, with Saturn in the court of Libra. Mercury and Venus testified. The upshot was that he was told that he was throwing off the whole works with his excessive force, and that he would have to behave if he wanted to be allowed to participate at all. I know it was dangerous; but Venus has a good effect on him.
In my collage, I found a photo of a woman in an evening dress on a paddleboard. I pasted an Omega watch face over her face. Time is her brain. She’s a clock face. I have made my intention clear: to master time.
There’s a saying in polyamory: Love is infinite, but time is limited. I believe I intend to test the boundaries of that one. I’ll keep you posted.