Un Momentito

Lately I’ve been feeling itchy, restless; a sadness that needs to be scratched. Does depression feel like that sometimes? Like you’re…..about to break open?

We found a cicada shell the other day and I thought, Yes. I get that. A bursting at the seams kinda feeling. We never see the cicada after it has shed. It must be happier, right? But think of that moment–the moment you split open in the back and wriggle free. Free but soft and vulnerable. You are no longer suffocating but now you’re paralyzed as you wait for your bones to harden around you.

I wouldn’t know about that. I’m still suffocating in the shell. Afraid to break out. Afraid to be squeezed much longer. And it’s frustrating. I know because I see it in little Zev all day.

Yesterday this is what I said to Zev, “Just a minute. Wait a minute. Lunch will be ready in a minute. We’ll go and jump on the trampoline in a minute. I’ll help you down from your high chair in a minute. The cookies will be out in a minute. I’ll read to you in a minute. It will be your turn in a minute.” And geesh, was he cranky! And then it struck me: Of course, he is. How long can someone be told, just a minute! before they crack?

That is something that drove me crazy in Mexico. Whenever someone tells you “un momentito” you know you’re in for it. The most stunning example was an appointment I had with a dermatologist. We showed up, as expected, at the time of the appointment. We checked in and waited for about 30 minutes.

We began to notice that nothing was happening. No one else was waiting. The doctor’s office door never opened. We clarified with the receptionist. “The doctor is here, right?” “Yes, yes, he’ll be here in just a minute.” Wait a second…the dreaded un momentito!

Ok, so we waited some more. After about 30 more minutes, we go back to the receptionist. “Look,” she says, “I just talked to him. He is ten minutes away.” We sit down. I mean, we’ve waited this long, right? (Why do we never learn?) After another 30 minutes (that’s an hour and half after the original appointment time) we tell the receptionist we really have to go. “No, no, he’s parking. He ran into some traffic but he is parking the car and will be here, you’ll see, in un momentito.”

At this time, we should have left. But there is something about that “momentito” that just sucks you in and makes you powerless to leave. When a word ends in “-ito” it’s supposed to be cute, a term of endearment, a way to diffuse tension. And Mexico is a culture of niceties, of politeness, of social lies. Never at any time would someone disappoint you and say, “Actually, you are in for a long, long wait.” So we surrendered to the siren’s call of un momentito and begin to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, the doctor would be there in just a minute.

When we walked out the front door, two and half hours after the original time, we ran into him on the sidewalk. The story of what happened at the appointment will have to be for another time.

That optimism, that faith, in the “-ito” keeps me going, most of the time. I try not to dwell on what I can’t do but rather on the un momentito until I’ll get what I want. But take my absence from writing this blog, for example. Sometimes that momentito gets stretched further and further. Like taffy or gum stretching, I start to feel like the thin wisp that hasn’t quite broken but is floating away.

Here is what I am waiting for–the time when I can buy myself a really nice pair of jeans and a beautiful bedspread  without panicking that I am wasting money. The time when I can go to sleep when I’m tired. The time when I can do what I want, not what most needs to be done. The time when I can earn money. The time when I can feel proud of what I’ve done. The time when I can stop thinking, “Good enough” and start thinking, “That’s good.”

I want to be all zen and want for nothing (am I mixing up my Eastern religions there?) I know happiness doesn’t depend on having more but wanting less. Yes, yes I get it…up here. But down here, inside, I feel squirrelly and restless and like a little kid who is tired of being told, un momentito!