I was plunging the toilet (for the 14th time this week—don’t ask) and when the water wouldn’t go down with that satisfying suck, I finally shouted to the heavens, “Good! I hope this toilet never works again!” and it suddenly occurred to me. I’d just articulated a dream that could actually come true.
How might this apply to the rest of my life? I wondered, gazing at my pajama-clad self in the mirror. (It was 1 o’clock in the afternoon.) Seeing the bare skin crinkle unattractively under my eyes, I dared another wish aloud: “I hope I never have time to get dressed or put on makeup today.” I could feel it deep in my bones. This was yet another dream within my grasp.
Children crashed into the hallway suddenly.
“Where are the cats?” my 13-year-old asked pointlessly, interrupting my life-altering thoughts and ignoring the scene: Me with the plunger in my hand.
My 8-year-old danced behind him to join the conversation with his own style of non-sequitur.
“What’s a butt?” he asked.
The elder bristled. “Get back in virtual school!” he barked, moving toward the kitchen.
The younger bent to pet a cat that appeared as if out of nowhere. “Not until 1:30!” he responded in a singsong voice, dancing back to his room.
The cat proceeded into the bathroom and attempted to climb into the garbage bag used to contain the toilet plunger when not in use (which is never, so we might as well throw it out). I nudged him away with my foot while questioning my sanity. I mentally reviewed the article I’d turned in to my editor earlier, about a writer who worked for decades before getting her big break, which finally came in the end. She really made it. You’d know her name if I told you.
I waited for the toilet tank to fill, so that I could simultaneously flush and plunge again.
I hope this is how I spend my entire day, I thought, dreamily. I hope my editor rejects my article. I hope I toil away in obscurity forever, never producing anything of worth—or rather, working hard to produce it, but reaching a clear end point where it never pays off.
What had started as a cynical rebuke to the gods had morphed into a comforting refrain. If I could toss off all of my previous hopes for myself as a writer and recast them as attainable goals what would I be?
The answer was clear. I would be free.
It was easy to imagine my dreams flushing straight down the toilet—wasn’t that where they were headed already? I jammed the plunger into the bowl, and yes, it did hurt my carpal tunnel-afflicted wrists, thank you for asking. But alas, the damn water just wouldn’t go down. It rose to the top of the bowl, threatening to spill over but not quite getting there as I know better by now and turn it off between flushes. Over and over, I waited for the tank to fill. Again and again, I plunged and I flushed.
I’ll do it all day if I have to, I thought grimly, determined to give up on everything once and for all. I’ll never quit.