He found her on the bed amongst scattered, half-folded clean clothes. Mascara stained her cheeks, her nose was red and splotchy. He rushed to her side.
. . . . . .
My husband and I got married the summer we entered our junior year of college, as we were transferring colleges. At the time, I was majoring in biology, but I had flat-out failed general chemistry II at our first university (well, I got a D, but that wasn’t good enough for the degree path of course). The night before classes started, I looked at the learning management system for the chemistry class I was set to retake.
“I don’t remember learning any of this!” I shrieked at my husband.
“C’mon, we learned that!” he told me, perusing the syllabus.
It was about that time I started crying. “I don’t remember any of it,” I bawled.
He tried to tell me it would come back to me once class started, but I had lost all confidence, and I told him I would just fail again, that I just wasn’t cut out for biology.
“I want to change my degree,” I told him, having made up my mind once my tears settled.
He paused, and he told me to sleep on it. The next day, we walked up to campus to make our way to the admissions and advising offices. We stopped outside the building, and he gave me the sternest look he had ever given me to that point.
“You can change your degree,” he told me (not that I’d necessarily asked his permission), “but I don’t want to hear you complain about it in a month. You make this change, you don’t go back. Are you sure about this?”
“I want to change my degree,” I told him, resolute.
He took my hand, and we walked into the building.
Another woman might have yelled at him, about how dare he try to tell me what decisions I can or cannot make. Another woman might have argued. I didn’t. Because I knew then, and I still know, that in that moment, he wanted to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake. He wanted me to know he fully supported me, but that this change would be a permanent one.
I changed my degree that day, and I never once regretted that choice.
. . . . . .
The college we graduated from had three options for English at the time: English – General Option; English – Creative Writing; or English – Journalism. At our previous university, I had taken a lot of English courses, since it was my passion, and the General Option fit best with the transfer credit I had. As with any degree path, though, I got to choose electives. All but one of the degree path electives I chose was creative writing of some kind (the other one was working on the student newsmagazine).
My senior year of college, I took a Creative Writing course. To this day, this was my favorite course, and what I learned about writing, even though I no longer have the physical notes, has stuck with me.
One of our assignments was to write a short story where we did not reveal anything until the end. I had never done anything like that before, and I had no idea how I was going to accomplish it. I always had high expectations of myself, and I didn’t know how I would meet those expectations with this assignment.
I had just had what I would later (and I mean a few years later) realize was my first real breakdown, and, looking back, it was probably some initial sign of some sort of depression. My husband worked off-campus, while I worked on campus as a tutor, and he had one semester less than I did left in school. I hated household chores, and all I was doing was homework. I felt stuck and inadequate.
When I told my husband of this assignment, stressed out about creating something I could be proud of, he paused and looked around our small apartment. We had laundry piled up that I had not yet folded because…well, I couldn’t be bothered. We always joked we would get a maid when we had “adult careers,” with “adult paychecks.”
“Write something about how laundry makes you crazy,” he said with a smile.
It was a good-natured comment, meant to make me laugh or smile. But it was also honest in that he thought writing would help me.
I remember just staring at him and excitedly grabbing my laptop.
“How’s this?” I asked him once the piece was complete.
He read it over, chuckled, and said it was good. I received a kiss on the forehead for my effort.
Writing that piece ended up helping me that night. Bonus: my instructor and my class (because I ended up sharing it with the class) loved it.
. . . . . .
That piece has sat in my external hard drive for years, untouched. It hadn’t been changed. It hadn’t been edited. It hadn’t even been read since I submitted it as my assignment. Looking back, it was the first time I realized writing could help heal. As I’ve been seeking to write more and make it more like a job, I decided it was time to revisit some previous pieces.
Today, The Craziness of Laundry finally got to see the light of day. I hope you take a moment to read it, and I hope you enjoy it.
Sometimes it’s the most mundane thing that can push us to the edge.