the locations of objects tell stories. there is a piece of wrapping paper by my side of the bed, folded and taped; it was my birthday last month. a Serge Gainsbourg CD lies near; we arrived home from Berkeley, snuggled into bed, and listened to our new purchases from Amoeba.
the east-facing window of my home office looks into a second-floor window of the house two doors away; close enough to throw a smile.
i used to know a boy. he lived at 301 Lincoln Ave, i at 307. i remember the first time i saw him at his window. we were 9 years old, and he had just moved into our neighborhood. he pressed his nose against the glass and grinned at me. bowl-cut brown hair. orange striped t-shirt. green shutters. we fell in love freshmen year, boyfriend and girlfriend for 5 months. i remember the exact hue of grey in the curtains he put up after we broke each others’ hearts.
reading marie kondo’s the life-changing magic of tidying up. clutter is existential tantrums about time. it’s a list of pending jobs left by old selves asking you to be who they were or who they failed to be. it’s a litany of demands from futures selves asking you to protect them. from everything.
the ability to forget is a gift. i’m a slightly different girl everyday. if all the girls i’ve been asked me to hold their wishes, their failings, their every ephemeral moment, i would disappear. your existence is pressed into my habits, my heart. don’t ask me to carry you. pass me the baton, and let me run.
waiting for the right time to do things properly is not the same as waiting for the right time to do things perfectly.
my heart feels stiff today. recalcitrant. sullen almost. it refuses to bear weight, repelling thoughts that may invite the deeply felt. to feel is to grasp the gravity of truth. to grasp the truth of any moment is to make lightening; the whole world is illuminated for 30 microseconds. poignancy is my usual bread and butter, but i cannot see today.
the night before you leave me
on a long work trip.
it’s not that i don’t want you to go; i just need you near
enough to whisper to the nape of my neck.
met Mozart on the walk home today. most kitties are hot dog shaped; he is cottonball shaped and mostly fur. he was quite busy, stalking and pouncing after two adolescent squirrels. large cute fluff chasing little cute fluff. he came to me straight away; scritches trump hunts.
i like our word games. cop a feel, feel a cop, Mr. McFeely is not a cop; at Dirty Frank’s i’m the vegetable, and he’s the wurst.
sitting at the window of a single-origin, farm-to-cup cafe cum roaster; drinking my Ecuadorian macchiato. a man strides past with 8 yellow roses in hand. he is thin and unkempt; his dusky t-shirt overly large; the flowers naked, free of obligatory greenery, wrapping, ribbons. my mind leaps to calculations about this man who is not the median of my experience; inferences about his incongruous bouquet. pity. then guilt–he is the hero of his story.
have to make it to that fancy flower shop by 7 tonight, just before closing time. it’s Bernice’s birthday today, and yellow roses are her favorite. has been since she was 5. they throw away loads of perfectly good flowers on Tuesdays; bound to be a few yellow roses. such beautiful things for nothing. mama will be proud. and Bernice will be tickled.
didn’t fall asleep until daybreak this morning. still sleeping at 9am, fitful and uncomfortable; trying to dream, but the dream refuses to work. the plots keep floating away; i continually forget my place. “i feel like a buckeye donut” M said; that sounded solid–ice cubes in a glass of water. “do you want anything?” i’m back under the covers, back in my bed. “pick for me. you know what i like” i mumbled then sank. i was here. you were there. the room was like this. play. a little later, i’m woken up with a freshly glazed donut and a freshly poured cup of Blue Bottle coffee.
BJ Miller talking to Michael Krasny on Forum: he says he is a devout agnostic and revels in not knowing. i fall in love a little with him and the neighborhood he inhabits. he says he didn’t inherit a perfection about his body. i think “good” is a good word, but “best” a dangerous one.
Aimee Bender’s The Color Master: the unbelievable wakes one from the mundane but leaves a lonely longing. compassion is not an invitation for disaster. sensitivity is not a weakness. you don’t have to act stupid just because you are sad.
the theme song to KQED’s Forum thrills me. it feels like something brilliant, something heartfelt is about to happen. like there is a cafe across the street full of people reading literature and philosophy; a bookstore up the block full of people discussing how to tend the world.
it feels like hope.
i feel guilty whenever i fail to enjoy an episode (it may be an overdeveloped sense of guilt).
pedaling along the Olentangy Bike Trail. on the way to campus. 12 bike lengths ahead, a young man rides slowly, probably headed to the same destination. a large doe leaps out of the woods a few feet behind him, crossing the trail and disappearing into the marshes in two bounds. she was a least a head taller than he. the young man turns to look behind him, a look of wonder on his face.
pedaling along the Olentangy Bike Trail. 12 bike lengths ahead, a young man rides slowly. a large doe leaps out of the woods a few feet behind him and disappears into the marshes. he turns for a look then continues on, wondering if it was a dream. when i catch up to the spot, i dismount, step on the kickstand, and gaze into the sedge. a pair of soft brown ears peeks from the rustling sea of green. i fold my hands in front of me; the left ear flicks a silent hello. i close my eyes and try to be quieter than the grass, kinder than the gentle stir of air. i stand like so for an hour. waiting. listening.
something nuzzles my right ear softly. i open my eyes; the doe is there. she wears a red ribbon about her neck, and her wide eyes are kind. she whispers a long phrase in my ear, but i do not understand it. she tries again, but none of the words are familiar to me. tears begin to pool above my lower lashes; she backs away. “see you tomorrow” she whispers, parting the sedge, disappears again into the marshes.
an old couple walks a cute wishbone-y puppy across the street towards us. the puppy poops, the mama curbs, and the three of them immediately return to the other side of the street. this intrigues me. the crossing was purposeful; the puppy hardly got to walk at all; i wanted a closer look at the cute puppy.
papa walks the puppy to one side of the entrance to the dry cleaner’s store, steps on a bit of leash to shorten puppy’s reach, then stands there. the two of them wait, gently lit by light streaming through the windows. mama tarries at the street corner for a little while, then joins them in the waiting. there are now two people and one puppy standing in front of the store. waiting for nothing in particular.
by the time i look up again the windows are dark; the doors locked for the night. the owner is outside; chatting with the old couple; petting the puppy.
i feel i’ve spent my entire adult life waiting… i’m not sure what for. the perfect moment; metamorphosis; clarity. perfection. i’m too old for “when i grow up” thoughts.
life is understood in great swaths but lived in moments; strings of minute endeavors.
it’s difficult to wash the dishes, weed the garden, to work while so overwhelmingly aware of the emptiness, meanness, gloriousness, bigness of life; or is that of humanity. one could shut ones eyes and live a happy life; or risk glances into the precipice in exchange for a meaningful one. a meaningful life isn’t planned; it’s constructed from the pieces in front of you.
kitten has a wooly pompom he carries in his mouth, while walking about, yeowling in loneliness. then he sees me (or his papa) and promptly abandons the ball to hurry over for a snuggle. the other day, i hear M walking up the stairs towards me, making cat noises along the way. i look up as he appears in the doorway, wooly pompom in hand, held aloft near his mouth then dropped to the floor.
Michel Gondry’s “Mood Indigo/L’Ecume des Jours.” we occupy a mere slice of the infinite ways to eat, drink, dress, make, grow, love. putting away silliness is often the darkening of a region in the heart. pianos can make drinks if we wish. music can make the room feel spherical; dancing can make you feel tall. anything that makes one’s heart grow is worthwhile.
we go out for dinner in a group on Monday. as we sit down, someone at the table announces Robin Williams has died. “Robin Williams?” i ask in shock. that Robin Williams? the Robin Williams? a conversation is carried to confirm the news pinged by an iphone. M stays characteristically quiet throughout.
at the end of the meal, M announces we need to stop at a party shop. when asked for a reason, he makes a flimsy excuse. much later, i realize he had been thinking of Williams during the meal; he had been thinking of ways to remember this funny, dear, alien man; he wanted to stop at the party shop for rainbow suspenders.
we have to put bits of our old selves away, a few words on a slip of paper, rolled up in a tiny bottle, then tucked away. we must. or who we were calcifies around us, and we march through our todays like armadillos. protected from the new and wonderful.
every once in a while, you find one of those old bottles. you open it. you read it. and old dreams bloom to fill every space in your consciousness. you never outgrew them; they are who you’ve always been; you just forgot.