I’ve been quietly panicking. The holidays are whirling in, there’s so much to do! I’m stuck lying around with ice on my leg. I don’t do well with…resting. When my body can’t move, my brain instantly thinks it needs to dredge up every possible thing that could go wrong. In the next 5 minutes. How helpful is that? Each 5 minutes is then followed by another new 5 minutes. So instead of relaxing and getting better, I’m clenching my teeth, making lists of all the ways I’m failing, and ignoring the stuff I am actually capable of doing, because much bigger stuff needs to be done. Like making lists of how I’m failing.
Welcome to the Jane psych ward.
I couldn’t sleep. Many well-meaning but bad things happen when I can’t sleep and feel useless. But I had to do something to get my brain to quit messing with me.
I dug out our old Christmas stuff to donate: before Christmas. That would be useful, right? Someone else could get it before Christmas! See? Doesn’t that sound plausible? At midnight?
I made a huge mess. A whopper of a mess. I hate my brain.
In the old Christmas stuff, I found a shoebox stuffed with hundreds of photographs. Great. Now I have to deal with these too. I pulled out a fistful, fully intending to toss them without sorting, if they were pictures of an era I’d rather not remember. There, staring back at me balefully, was my first horse, Spitz. A 38-year-old photograph. She’s clean, and severely annoyed by being clean. Green was her favorite color. I’m thrilled: I didn’t think I had any pictures of her. I turn the photo over. Date is on the back.
I was 15.
If Spitz is in here…? The ghost of Mr. Chips shakes his mane, paws at the floor, and whumps me with his head. Holy crap. Mr. Chips might be in here!
What was a slightly contained mess goes Nuclear. Hey, there’s our bunny, and the birds! No Wall O Rabbits though. There are a couple more of Spitz and me in which I’m supremely, mortifyingly, fifteen. It’s all about me. She’s a living accessory. To me. The center of the universe.
I almost stop, I’m so embarrassed. Mr. Chips stamps a hoof in my mind. Okay, okay! I smile. Pushy little guy. I flip through more photos.
Is that…Roz? I tilt the photo. It’s Roz! I frown. This is not where we lived in the middle of NoWhere. It’s after we moved back to civilization. No grass. But lots of places to ride.
When I lived here, I still had Mr. Chips, and Roz’ daughter, Connie.
“Right”, Mr. Chips says in my head, “Brilliant. Helloooo. Keep going!”
Mr. Chips, Ghost of Christmas Past. “Are you going to rattle a chain?” I say, shuffling through photos. He tosses his head.
I burst into tears. It’s 2 am, and I am looking at Mr. Chips for the first time in almost 20 years.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to me!