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.
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.