Shoot. Somebody important has just asked me why I'm not writing anymore. "Maybe you're too happy," she says, like it's a challenge, daring me to agree. I have just told her I am "doing great" three times in a row. How nice.
I scoff at her suggestion like happiness is the devil. “Must be work,” I grumble, appropriately hateful. But I love my work.
You could just be happy, she says again, her face kinder this time. She wants that for me. Anyway she already knows I am in an embarrassingly fulfilling stage of my life. She knows because I have told her. Embarrassing because complete happiness is kind of a silly thing. Right?
You could just be happy.
I think about being just happy; letting all the goodness that surrounds me each day sink in through my skin and go straight to my heart, pumping out just happy blood throughout my entire just happy body, but that doesn’t seem fair. Because, there’s Syria and The Middle East, there’s “Donald Trump” and nuclear weaponry and the goddamned future of America. But also: There’s the sweet daughter of a car mechanic, her blue eyes staring wildly at me tonight in line at the grocery store. Nobody has brushed this child’s hair in years. Something tells me he is a single dad. Something about how his daughter looks at me.
Her seven-year-old face when dad’s credit card doesn’t go through. His rough hands fumbling through a beat-up wallet. Try this one, he says, as if the entire world depends on it, because it does. Hmm, not that one either, Sir. Those cards just don’t seem to be working. Do you have any cash? The daughter, now she’s crying.
I am going to have a heart attack in this Safeway.
So this is what happens when I try to write a happy story. You could just be happy, she says.
But that doesn’t seem fair.