I was late the day they assigned muses. By the time I rushed in, damp hair undermining any credibility to my car trouble story, Mrs. Butterworth and Lemony Snicket were already taken. So were the Woset in my Closet, the world’s hottest chili pepper, and Frida Kahlo’s eyebrow… and despite my hopeful nods toward the corner where Mr. Darcy sat brooding, I ended up with Tinkerbell’s hormonal older sister Orlagh.
Like all fairy folk, Orlagh is drawn to sunbeams and jewel tones, sugar crystals and laughing water, words that twist and melt and sparkle on the tongue; however, neither her name nor her thyroid is doing her any favors. She gets overwhelmed easily. Weeks strung along with gray days send her into a sulk. She tends to get bogged down in jealousy when she should be inspired, and she is endlessly worried over which color petals go with her skin tone (periwinkle makes her face look puffy, buttercup washes her out).
She refuses to show up without caffeine, no matter how many times I reminder her it’s an unhealthy habit. She won’t come in to work on the weekends, and she often decides she needs a few hours of beauty sleep just as I’m sitting down to meet with her. She abandons perfectly delicious sentences to moon over Peter Pan. Head colds and out-of-town guests provide equal rationale for her to jet off to Maui without so much as an “aloha!” and when she returns—sometimes weeks later—her telltale tan fades more quickly than her reluctance.
However, beneath all its moody layers, Orlagh’s heart is deep and lovely. Many of my happiest hours have been spent creating with her, brainstorming in whispers and coaxing letters into life. When I have time (and adequate caffeine in my system) and her hormones have a temporary foothold, we work so well together that it’s more like playing. I like her. All except for the jet-setting and flaky work ethic and downward emotional spirals. And that awful name. But besides that, I really have grown fond of my muse.
So if you’re reading this, Orlagh, I’d love for you to come on home now. No combination of seasonal sicknesses and dead cars and weepy two-year-olds and allergy immunotherapy treatments and unfortunate bedtimes is enough to make me stop wanting you around. In fact, I’m craving another of our morning-long creative sessions. I miss you, and I promise not to say anything about your extended absence if you bring me back a piña colada and maybe a cluster of freshwater pearls. (Tiny ones, in graduated shades of orange and brown. Strung on silk. With a silver pendant.)
“Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.”
~ Wm. Shakespeare
“And if thou canst thy fickleness outgrow
Or thy vacations halt, I shall, methinks,
Back to the reassignment center go
And hire as my new muse Jar Jar Binks.”