It's dusk as I sit outside on this late September Arizona evening, and I am peaceful because I have realized just now that I don't have to be perfect.
I woke up from a lovely late afternoon catnap - the kind that makes you want to stretch, literally, like a cat. It was a nice nap, except I started to have some very anxiety ridden dreams: I was spending money I didn't have, I was late to work, I was even being hunted by some killer robot or something. What it was escapes me now. I awoke in a panic until I realized that everything was okay, even though I have been prone to spending money I don't have and being late to work, just not quite in the extremes represented in my dream.
Outside, my kitty Maya joins me, and she is being good. Unlike last night when she was gallivanting around the back yard, chasing gnats, testing her boundaries (literally), and then stopping to eat grass or sniff a tree as if to say, "What? I'm just sitting here, checking out this tree," tonight, she is sitting calmly on the pavement, even as birds - sparrows probably - take roost on the rooftop of our next door neighbor's house, squawking back and forth to one another. She, who would be the one of our cats to jump the wall, just watches.
I don't know why I had the overwhelming sense come over me that I don't have to be perfect, but it felt cathartic, as though my nap was truly rejuvenating, my bed a cocoon to help me reinvent myself. Maybe I finally relaxed, it being my second day off in my series of two. I came home from an outing, utterly exhausted (I must be rundown, I thought, contemplating B vitamins on my way home), nearly collapsed onto the bed and fell asleep. And, well, now, here I am, and all is right (I almost wrote "write" - what a slip) with the world.
The birds have moved on to some other rooftop. Maya is now testing her boundaries, as is her nature. Even as I say her name in that warning way, she is leaning over, sniffing the ground (what? I'm just checking out the pavement here). The sun is setting more now, and finally, FINALLY, it is cool outside, and by that I mean only 82 degrees.
This kind of evening reminds me of a period of time when I lived in Sacramento with Deril on Sweet Way. On days I didn't go to ballet class, I would leave work and head home. It was Spring, the days were starting to get longer. I'd go to Long's Drugstore and pick up a few things, including an ice cream bar, and I'd come home, sit on the steps of the front porch and eat it, enjoying the weather, the peacefulness of the hour before nightfall. It's a special time of day, dusk, when you can do almost anything you want, but once the darkness falls and it truly becomes nighttime, chores beckon. Lights must be turned on, dinner made, perhaps laundry. Back in those days, I might watch the nightly news (I was a fan of Peter Jennings). Real life tasks had to be accomplished, but in that time when the sun sat low in the sky and the day cooled, time could stand still. I could eat a Popsicle, sit on the porch, think without being distracted or interrupted.
I could just be me.
It's almost dark now. I'm still outside, but I'll have to turn the porch light on. Tonight, dinner doesn't have to be made and there is no laundry to wash, but there are things to be done to prepare for my workweek ahead. It's only 6:42pm but I have to work early tomorrow so there is only so much time between now and the time I have to go to bed to ensure I have a full night's sleep. Maya has gone back to being good, just sitting, waiting for me to say, come on, let's go inside. As I sit here, contemplating that and dusk and the cool night, I realize that maybe I am so content because I am finally free from Arizona's summer confinement period - the time when it is so hot outside, the best thing to do is stay inside.
Dusk will come again tomorrow, and the next day. It makes me happy to know that. I just have to remind myself to stop for an hour and appreciate it, to be me.
Finally, my latecomer, Maisy-cat, joins us outside, so even while it is dark and I have to turn the porch light on, I think I'll stay just a little while longer.