I've been shuffling through old documents, to make space for new ones, and I found a bit of stolen genius from a favorite university professor of mine:
"Why not forget about all the other stuff, the literary, intellectual, religious, political, cultural meanings and significances, and just explain what the poem means? Because all that other stuff is what the poem means. A poem is a human utterance, and a human isn't a simple thing. One label isn't enough to totally pigeonhole you, and one layer of significance isn't enough to do justice to justice to a poem that you, or Shakespeare, has written."
I imagine that I'll have more to say about Mother's Day and mothers themselves, perhaps on Monday or Tuesday, when all the glitter cards have settled. (Seriously, all the cards have glitter.) But for now, this little spot is everything. Which coincidentally, is the word I would use to describe my own mother.
It's something I suspect I'll talk to my grandchildren about, and they will play at it, the way I played at garden parties and tea socials with my grandmother.
Some people look at me funny when I tell them I am in a book club and the median age is twenty-six, but for the record, my book club has made me indescribably happy. I've met new people who light me up. I've re-met old acquaintances and drawn so much closer to best friends. I have learned from the experiences and thoughts of women whose lives are so different from mine. We've tried new food together. New authors and genres. We have opened our eyes and our minds together, inadvertently creating the safest space for feeling and expressing both sweet and unsavory things.
But somewhere along the way, I forgot about the reading. I finish the books most months, sure, but I forgot that reading is not a social event, and books are not merely the ticket in.
But a couple of weeks ago, before heading out of town, I zipped through Target for soap and new a new razor and tanning lotion for my pale, pale leg skin. I tossed a popular book in to my basket because I knew I could breeze through it's pages in a day and half or so while sitting in a passenger seat.
The story was not original. The prose, not particularly well-written. The characters were far from flawlessly developed. But, I wasn't counting the pages or watching the clock. I entered a world that was not mine, and I learned to love a couple of people I did not know.
I remembered how much these stories affect my happiness. I live on a much higher plane when I read. When I turn off all of the damn screens, and open a book. You see, there are human bits in every word that lives on paper--I'm convinced of it.
And who doesn't need a reminder to be a bit more human?
This post will not be my normal bumbling about the moment between seasons when the sun warms my soul.
I'm just here to tell you that I'm here. My brain and any inspiring thoughts that may have been there are thawing now, and I feel so much better when I'm thawed. Don't you? Though we all keep working and giving and running around through January, and then February, I think so many of us are actually hibernating. Sleep walking through the snow.
I made this resolution about writing in 2014, and I mentioned it here on my blog, but I haven't even begun to make good on my resolve because of the sleep. Because of the hibernation of my will and every exciting bit I have.
But this week, it became spring. And with another month or so of winter-like symptoms to go, I know not to have my hopes up, but here they are, up anyway. Life seems so thrilling again. There are weekends to plan, projects to bite into, movements to be made.
I'm pretty sure I just had a breakthrough. After a long day of of work and a long early evening nursing a monster cold (aka watching The Bachelor), I was catching up on social media. As I am always apt to do, I snuggled up and settled down into Instagram. I scrolled into my friends' pasts. I saw their Christmases. I saw their vacations. Their turkeys. Their children. Their windows. Their vases. Their kisses. Their families. Their joy.
I saw their longer, summer hair.
Now, I am a comparer and competer like all of you, and sometimes that Instagram app does me in. There is so much I want to be, and so much that they are, and so much I am not. But tonight--oh, tonight, I saw the joy. Which is what I think I'm supposed to be looking for in the first place.
Life is sometimes too beautiful for me. I fear I miss it all.
And so, though I am not a resolver, meaning I do not really make resolutions, as in NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS, I do aim to write a little bit more this year. I don't know how or where I will do it (and don't I resolve to do this every year?). Because in doing what I love every day, it has become everyday. But writing is life. Creating is living. It is feeling. And I want that in January, so much.
I want to remember conversing with my coworkers about food cities. I want to remember Santa Monica--the perfect breeze. I want to remember Skype and my brother and forgotten gifts. I want to remember my friend and her mother and the cancer and not knowing how to say how much I care. I want to remember the moment I found blurry, wordy old files and felt so proud of my 2011 self. I want to remember a friend's new blog, and all of her inspiring thoughts. I want to remember.
I should write this all down, shouldn't I?
In any case, in trying to record this fleeting thought, in trying to nail down the buzz of gratitude, I had to search for this little dying laptop--only to find it in a spare room. Left there to recharge at an open outlet because the three in my own room are full. Full of Christmas lights, and humidifiers, and Ikea lamps, and cell phones flickering on my lap.
Last weekend, I hopped in a car with two of my oldest friends and drove to Las Vegas. We were hoping for a little sun, but we went to see the queen. Beyonce live and in the flesh has been on my list since high school, and you know, it was all so much bigger than I even expected. The costume changes alone. She's a powerhouse, and a true woman. I'll be a forever fan. We spent the rest of the weekend lazily napping in our golden hotel and shopping our hearts out at Zara.
(The Zara bit may have just been me.)
(Also, please excuse my blurry nighttime iPhone photos.)
I love fall. I've always loved fall, for as long as I can remember. But I like to call it autumn. The long way. In a world of abbreviated words and 54-minute hours, I just like to take the long way.
To me, fall is the most beautiful pause. A holding of breath. It's brief, but speaking of long, it's always longer than I remember. Most likely because I expect to wake every morning to brown, bare branches. The burning treetops never last long enough. But I suppose that's the point. Before the snow and chill blow through the world and forcefully settle us all, there is a time when the earth gives us all she has.
Everything. Fall is everything to me.
I pull to the side of the road to capture the luminously orange tree. I bring pumpkins to people I love (instead of roses or candy). I drink tea and light fires and read more books.
It's probably the most personal question one can ask. That I can think of, at least. More than, "How much do you weigh?" Or, "What's your favorite song?" Or, "Are you with the one single person in the world who fills your heart with joy?"
When she asked, I joked, because what else do you do when you're asked the most personal question of all? You deflect. Really, it was too easy. She being the almost-graduated graduate therapist, best friend of six years, roommate of three, carrier of your best college memories. Here she is, asking you about your happiness over eggs and orange juice.
"Stop therapizing me, Bod."
But she wanted to know, and so I told her. Because who else will I tell? Because is it really so bad to admit to being wildly happy or down down down and out? There's nothing wrong with being personal, after all.
We talked about everything and nothing, the way we always do. The way I always seem to do. About school, and ambition, and moving. About the places we've been to and have not. About the cities we'll live in and will not. About our friends. About their lives and their happy. About companionship and marriage. About futures and faith.
It seems like a lot, but I imagine that it sounds familiar to you too.
I told her that, yes, I am happy. But now, and here, I want to clarify:
I am happy. Not content. Not at all, really.
Which means that I am not final happy
or end-game happy
or nothing-needs-to-or-should-change happy.
I am happy-along-the-way. I am waiting. And doing stuff while I wait that negates the waiting, I hope.
I've been especially thoughtful and introspective today--so much so that when I've tried to speak, all the words arrive jumbled and unclear. I'm really impressing my coworkers, I'll tell you what. :)
I'm not sure I'll put myself through the same humiliation here. (For me, it's always hardest to express the most vivid thoughts and feelings. Is it the same for you?) But I will say that I'm feeling so full today. FULL is a word I've resorted to over and over on this blog, because somehow HAPPY and CONTENT and THANKFUL just don't do the trick. Today, I am full. I am blessed to know what I know, I am blessed to have what I have. I could burst with the goodness I've been given--the people, the thoughts, the feasts, the faith. And skies. And trees.
And hope. Hope most of all.
Because though I am thankful for the things I have today, I have such plans. Most of them embarrass me; they're so far flung and gosh darn big. But they are mine and they are real and they are heavy. I'm happy to carry them--I'll carry them until the seasons stop changing.
With autumn officially arriving on Sunday, I couldn't resist throwing a summer's worth of iPhone photos up on the old blog. Summer 2013 is so many things in my mind--a season of rainstorms, trees, books, weekends in the mountains, weeks at the beach, family barbecues, tacos and gelato on the patio with friends, weddings, wishes, empty gas tanks, Parade of Homes-ing, and biking biking biking. I sure do love that bicycle of mine.
The change of seasons affects me more than most, it seems. There is such sadness, for the things that will not be for nine more months, but such hope for burning leaves and scarves and new chapters.