Beads of mist clung to the two columns of light that guided the car around each twist and turn of the graveled road. Her hands clutched the steering wheel as her eyes darted from side to side, trained from years of trying to spot deer out of her periphery while she cruised down Four-Mile Road desperately attempting to make it home before curfew.
Except for this time, it wasn’t the deer’s death she was trying to avoid—it was her own.
“I am going to write a murder mystery novel before I turn 50,” I said, as I waltzed into my office, plopping my giant purse on my desk.
It was a bold declaration, but saying it out loud felt a bit like dropping that heavy purse and hearing the satisfying thud. It now was out in the world, no longer hidden behind doubt and self-sabotage. Of course, part of that liberation was shrouded in the safety of how lofty and distant it seemed. It was almost like when you’re a kid and meet someone who is 40 and think, Wow, that is ANCIENT, I will never be that old. I had PLENTY of time. But then, a slight urgency chipped its way through my new-found confidence and accountability.
If my quick math is correct, and I don’t guarantee that it is, by the time this issue of Kindred is live, I will have 4,609 days until I turn 50. That means if I want to have a novel under my belt by that time, I need to write .076 pages every day from now until then to complete 350. Even though I know that it is fleeting, in this season of drop-offs, pick-ups, permission slips, and tantrums, even a .078 page goal makes 50 feel like it’s barreling right around the corner.
The other day, during my pick-up basketball game, which just so happens to be my favorite two hours of the week most weeks, I blocked what would have been the game winning shot. This is something that I used to do all the time (when you average 2.1 points per game you have to develop other skills) but it had been awhile. When I heard that familiar echo of my hand slapping against the ball at the perfect time, I could almost hear Technotronic’s – Pump Up The Jam filling the gym up to the rafters. It always was my favorite part of our varsity warm up tape. I felt the pride that would well up inside me as I carried my freshly laundered red/white uniform from my locker to the bus and secured it to the overhead racks above the vinyl seats, making sure #31 faced out. I remember going from feeling completely inadequate one quarter to feeling on top of the world the next. I heard my mom cheer, “THAT’S MY BABY GIRL!” so loud that, depending on my teenage mood, I would either defend her or pretend we weren’t even related when I would see the looks from the other team. As an adult, I now understand the deadlines that had to be rushed through and meetings that had to be exited early in order to make it to the gym in time for the tip-off, and I am deeply grateful for my parents, loud, embarrassing cheers and all.
Through the literal blood, sweat, and tears, I built friendships that I still hold close to my heart. The same goes for my pick-up teammates today, although there are fewer tears as the perception of what’s at stake is so much less than it was in high school. I may be slower, and I may need to take am epsom salt bath after every game. I now need to question whether the dampness I’m feeling is sweat or urine, and when I look up into the makeshift, community center bleachers and see two of the three reasons for my leaky bladder holding up crayoned “Go Mamma” signs on lined notebook paper, I know for certain that my glory days may be behind me, but they are also here now and will be there 4,609 days from now, hopefully sitting on a bookshelf, waiting to be devoured.
Marissa B. Niranjan is constantly amazed by how much of parenthood involves discerning between liquids. As of a month ago, she is a budding mystery author who is currently looking for a pelvic floor therapist.