I pick up the phone and search through my address book contacts. The letter A holds my sister’s name, Adayna, whom I already called. I heard two, three, four rings before hanging up. It’s almost impossible to catch her now that she’s a live-in girlfriend and new mother.
Next on the list: my red headed, Puerto Rican/French Canadian high school comrade. At 14, we trailed behind one another, attending classes side by side and sharing secrets over french fries and personal pan pizzas at Phillips Academy Andovers’ Riley Room. The financial aid guru who approved sneaker requests and monies for scholarship students called us Itch and Scratch.
I’m still trying to figure out who’s who.
Christina picks up but she can’t talk. She’s on her way to a birthday party with her daughter, Xolani. “About to take the train,” she says. Onto the next call, I think.
All the way down to the letter T now. I see Teresa’s name then remember she is in Pennsylvania visiting her French boyfriend. I scroll further and know not to call my cousin Yahaira and friend de la infancia Yuyi; they’re both busy on Saturdays with their husbands and kids. And so I begin to pace; my bare feet rubbing against the tiled floors.
I’m bored! I feel alone! Every one of my friends is in a relationship or has a child and has no time for me! I’ll never be that way, I vow. Like a professional juggler, I’ll balance family, friends, work, writing, love, and my social life.
Fast forward six months. Balls are flying all over the place. My phone rings. It’s Teresa. I don’t pick up as I am on my way to meet my boyfriend of 2 weeks and don’t have time to talk. So I let it go to voice mail. “Will here the message later,” I murmur to myself. Five minutes later, I receive to emails: one from an event organizer and another from a website owner, and they both want me to contribute to their projects.
“Shit”! I shout, “I haven’t posted on LoveSujeiry.com today!” When will I find the time? After my date with my boyfriend? On my way there? Yes, on my way there.
I reach for my iPhone and open a new Google Doc. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. This story begins to form. My phone beeps again, interrupting my flow. It’s my sister, Adayna. Not now, I think. I press “ignore” and go back to this piece. Off the train now, I cross the street, barely eying incoming traffic as I am solely focused on getting this piece done so I can then email the promoter and web developer…and call my sister and Teresa back, and apologize for putting Teresa on hold last time we spoke. And get to my boyfriend so we can have a wonderful, romantical time!
Then it hits me: I’m an adult. This is what adulting looks like. Work, family, friends, love – and if you’re anything like me – three million creative projects to complete. How can anyone balance it all?
My brows furrow as I pick up the pace to meet my boyfriend. My brain races, planning a to-do list. I can do this.
- Compose the emails on the train ride home. As soon as I’m above ground, press send!
- Call Teresa tomorrow after work when I am home.
- Call my sister in the morning when she’s at the breast-pumping station at work. She has all the time in the world!
- Talk to my boyfriend about needing a day or two for ME and my social life. This way I don’t neglect my friends and family.
- Spend time with my boyfriend and my friends and family at the same time. That way everybody gets their Sujeiry time!
With mental checklist complete, I begin to relax. Two blocks later, I am face to face with my boyfriend. He is all smiles; I beam. Our connection reminds me that being happy is what matters.
But, can I be happy without my friends, family and work? Of course not. So I have to balance it all. I am confident that I can and I will. All it takes is a little juggling and a lot of understanding. Some balls may hit me in the eye causing me to stumble, but that’s okay as long as I try. I get that now. And so I apologize in advance to the friends who walk back and forth, pacing as they await my call. I am sorry for your feelings of boredom and loneliness, and that I don’t have as much time for you as I used to. I’ll never do that to my friends, I once vowed. I’ll find a way to balance it all, I once promised. Unfortunately I am not a professional juggler. At least not yet.