In Which We Discover That Laundry Is The Meaning Of Life, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:30am.



Seems like that moment in the year when the Ferris wheel scrapes bottom. That small instant when we wonder, “Are we going up again?’ Skies particularly gray. Air particularly still. Or windy. Either way. This is the time all that holiday festivity is supposed to prepare us for.

Except we’re just creatures, and the passage of time and seasons is strong. Given that I’m innately, almost stupidly cheerful, this doesn’t make me too sad. Reflective, yes. A little yearny. Bear with me, if I can ask your forbearance. When the cyclical process of being human pauses in the down notch, go there. Reflect. Or read other people who are doing the same thing. Because, in the way of animal species, much of what is meaningful we share.

Some young women are getting married. Mouse at Souris Mariage. Hannah, at i doux. Congratulations, girlikins. I have always loved weddings. Late summer afternoon, sweet white flowers hither and thither, strains of music over the stucco walls of a courtyard, clink of silverware on plates, high heels in gravel. The grandmother, standing by her chair, caught looking away, large South American topaz earrings visible.

Some people are having babies. Our Little Haus. A Suburban Housewife in Training. I Pick Pretty. Except right now she’s I Pick Feeling Fat And Like This May Never End. That Wife. Make Mine A Mojito is staying off the baby train. If she got on, I guess she’d be Make Mine A Vanilla Whey Protein Smoothie No Wait I Hate Vanilla It Makes Me Barf. La Belette Rouge is, after some time, thinking about adopting. Congratulations.

Maxminimus’s friend had a baby. So he who loves Weejuns (in the way of Like Water for Chocolate), wrote about his own fatherhood. Evidently fathers love their daughters. So far beyond reason that reason is teeing up at the 15th hole while fathers are blitzing the quarterback then getting up one more time covered in mud.

Some people are rearing children. Cate Subrosa. Who is moving her baby away from pacifiers. Entertaining Mom, who wouldn’t really leave her kids at school over night, but jokes about it on Twitter. That’s a good strategy for the bottom, look around and mock the barren, nasty, gravel-filled desert with no gas station in sight. Mock it good.

Penelope Trunk. Perhaps one of the most brilliant and peculiar bloggers out there. I’ve been reading her since before there were blogs. She made waffles for her boys and then cursed at them when she couldn’t get everyone out the door in time for school. Felt bad. I don’t know a mother who hasn’t been there. We all told her that. But mutuality doesn’t always make it OK. She doesn’t want to swear at her kids, even though it’s better than hitting them. When we hit bottom, even while swimming upwards barely holding our breath, we look down and vow to do better next time. Take a short, clear-eyed look at the sea floor.

And, then, now, some people are dying. Entertaining Mom’s sister-in-law is dying of ovarian cancer. I am so sorry. Some have died. Miss Whistle’s father-in-law died last week.

It’s very difficult to say much of anything about death. It’s both incomprehensible and irrefutable. All I can do is look out the window at wet yellow leaves on the gray slate patio and shake my head. Or leave Miss Whistle a comment and say, “I’m sorry for your loss. I’m thinking of you.” Solitary musing doesn’t get us very close to meaning. The social contract does.

I had a reader email me the other day. Her elderly neighbor had lost his wife after 45 years of marriage. She wanted to write him a note. Her usual monogrammed stationery was on order, not yet arrived. All she had was cards with one initial, gold, and lined envelopes, gold. She wondered if that paper would make her note of condolence too much About Me. I agreed. Send a plain folded note. Cream. White. Ivory. “I am so sorry for your loss.” Bring food.

I should get those leaves off the patio. My Christmas tree is recycled, the ornaments down. I should organize them into the right boxes. The sheets from my son’s bed are clean, in a heap on the daybed. He’s back at school. I should fold laundry. One can sit on the sofa, rueful at the passage of time. But not for long. If there were an answer, surely, someone would know it. I am fully aware of concurrent futility and joy. This is most likely why yoga focuses so entirely on breathing.

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27 Comments

  • 01/09/10
    1:03 pm

    Reply

    Town and Country Mom said...

    A deft post, perfect, in fact. Wallow a bit, then be grateful–that's what gets me through the loads of laundry.

  • 01/09/10
    1:04 pm

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    Preppy 101 said...

    This post is mesmerizing. How wonderful is the way you conveyed your message to us – real people. Very appropriate for this cold, wintry, 'where is the sun' day. xoxo

  • 01/09/10
    1:05 pm

    Reply

    the communicatrix said...

    Knowing that you are not the only one on the only Ferris wheel hitting bottom does not fix things exactly, but it does help one bear up under it.

    This means we will soon be going up again, yes?

    Thanks for this timely post. More timely than perhaps you know.

  • 01/09/10
    1:17 pm

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    EntertainingMom said...

    L — I read this earlier with tears streaming down my face… I couldn't reply. At least just then. I think about this circle of life all the time, but when a cycle near and dear to you is about to expire … as you watch the progression of a young and vibrant life turn so dramatically before your eyes you begin to question everything.

    Today I went to the mall. How mundane. How painful! But I had promised my daughter I would take her, and so I braved abercrombie and Justice and while walking down the long hallways thought of my sister in law in bed in a dark house who would love nothing more than to be able to have the opportunity to experience something, anything, so mundane just one more time…

  • 01/09/10
    1:20 pm

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    Jill said...

    Life

  • 01/09/10
    1:50 pm

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    Duchesse said...

    In the my mother's time, people would "pay a call". I miss that. Some years ago a friend had a miscarriage. She received many notes, but told me what meant the most was the friends who would come over and sit with her for an hour. Many are afraid to do this, including me, at times, because it's not as safe and controlled as sending a note. But it means so much.

  • 01/09/10
    2:05 pm

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    tintarosa said...

    …and tomorrow is another day.

  • 01/09/10
    3:40 pm

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    CRICKET said...

    Beautiful post!

  • 01/09/10
    3:56 pm

    Reply

    smiles4u said...

    You really do have a way with words. So true. So eloquently said. Thank you. XX Lori

  • 01/09/10
    4:04 pm

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    hostess of the humble bungalow said...

    Lovely photo, words are lovely, the ferris wheel image, it's pure poetry and magic. I wonder at your ability to turn a phrase, to plant that thoughful seed, to give us much to ponder…BTW the leaves look beautiful on the patio, such a colorful contrast to the slate grey…

  • 01/09/10
    10:03 pm

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    Lisa, you even do low-grade melancholy with class and eloquence!
    I love the image of the ferris wheel pausing before it goes back up. Gonna hold that one with me this week…

  • 01/10/10
    5:15 am

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    see you there! said...

    The ferris wheel image is wonderful. One I'll hold in my mind. Great thoughtful post.

    Darla

  • 01/10/10
    9:30 am

    Reply

    The Daily Connoisseur said...

    Love this- the cycle of life. Reading it was very soothing for me. Just got back from Barbados where there was a lot of time to think about these things. You were right- the island was spectacular! x

  • 01/10/10
    9:51 am

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    Jan said...

    I was so touched by this, Lisa, that I was – for once – at a loss of words.

    So, what Maureen said. Oh, yeah.

  • 01/10/10
    10:12 am

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    LPC said...

    Good morning everyone. Good morning, and thank you:). I think maybe Barbados would be a good thing all around?

  • 01/10/10
    11:04 am

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    The Broke Socialite said...

    This post nearly brought me to tears. So absolutely lovely.

  • 01/10/10
    1:59 pm

    Reply

    thepreppyprincess said...

    You have outdone yourself with this one Miss LPC, as so many of us can clutch at the Ferris Wheel image and hold it closely in a "yep, that's how it feels" kind of way. You are too gifted.

    Smiles at you for the week ahead,
    tp

  • 01/10/10
    9:05 pm

    Reply

    She Writes said...

    Your writing is brilliant, and your recognition of your fellow bloggers generous. I will visit again! Now to visit some you have mentioned.

  • 01/11/10
    10:12 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    Reflection is good and necessary, I think. It makes me aware of the contentment of the now. Later, things will change.

  • 01/11/10
    11:11 am

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    Mouse said...

    Up, up and away on the wheel of the year. xo

  • 01/11/10
    12:22 pm

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    Bumby Scott said...

    Wow! Lisa, well said.

    Always Bumby

  • 01/11/10
    1:35 pm

    Reply

    Kate said...

    Beautiful post as always, Lisa. Reflective, calm and melancholic, but in an uplifting sort of way. Kudos and happy new year!

  • 01/11/10
    11:08 pm

    Reply

    Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

    I hope you got my email…, you won the sailcloth pillow!

    Please email me your shipping address so that I can forward it to Kim.

    completelycoastal@cox.net

  • 01/12/10
    8:24 am

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    LPC said...

    How exciting!

  • 01/12/10
    10:49 am

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    Legallyblondemel said...

    This truly is that quirky tipping point part of the year, isn't it, where things are still. Good time for Saturday morning reflection (I type on Tuesday afternoon).

    Yes, today it's very much "I Pick Bloated and Feeling Rather Unlike Myself", but I'm trying to step back and appreciate all of the quirks.

  • 01/12/10
    3:30 pm

    Reply

    vintage simple said...

    Beautiful post, Lisa.

    -maria

  • 01/13/10
    3:37 pm

    Reply

    Meg said...

    Achem. What of those of us who are neither getting married (have done) or having or not having children?

    I'm just saying. We're here too (Like you. you are not doing very similar things. 30 meets 50 that way.)

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