As I type this, I’m sitting beside a window, still in my pajamas, drinking coffee. On the other side of the window, Mose and Lew are playing “football” with their dad. I can hear them all hooting and screaming and running. At one point a little while ago, they “paused the show” to catch a snake. The snake is now inside, with me. In a box. Poor snake.
It’s an afternoon, a sunday breezy afternoon. In Atlanta. Tonight the temperature will drop and we’ll make a fire, maybe order a pizza. Tomorrow I’ll try to get to work again. I have a book to finish.
Can I say this, without bringing the wrath of the fates down on my own head? Can I say that all is well, that I’ve never been so content in my life? That this is the sort of happy-island-of-time I imagine people look back on, when they get older, and remember with a halo, a golden glow. These are sweet years, honey years. Time to breathe, to relax, to make work and feel hopeful.
Still climbing, but now a little slower up the hill… with a little more time to notice the view.
There’s a scene in Brideshead Revisited (a book I quote far too often) where Sebastian and Charles are sitting in the grass, and Sebastian says, ‘I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.’
I’ve always loved those lines, but I think for a loooooooong time I loved them as exotica. I couldn’t really imagine feeling that calm myself. I was always looking for BIG, for LOUD, for NEW, for things that trembled and threatened and promised danger or emotion or huge experience. The things that made me happiest were usually in the past or the future. I never sat still enough to notice them in the now.
Now is now.
Now I’m older. Life feels different, and ta-dah! I’m there, suddenly sitting in the grass! It’s this year, this place. “Just the place to bury a crock of gold.” The fact that I’m present enough to notice my happiness is maybe the greatest gift, for a girl like me (which is to say a woman like me).
I’m really happy right now. I am. I have work to do, that I love. I have a healthy happy family. I have friends and a neighborhood that brings me joy. I have books to read and tea to drink and bourbon in a glass, when I want it. I am full.
And though my house is small, though it would be nice to have a second bathroom, or family in the area. Though I worry about paying for the boys to go to college, and about my own health a little. Though it would be nice to finish this book tomorrow, or have a flash of genius about a bestselling picture book series… each time I get a chance to wish (a star, a candle) lately, I only ever wish for things to stay. Just stay. Like this.
Of course, that’s folly. Because things can’t stay, ever. Things have to change. That’s why a girl might need to bury a crock of gold. Because alongside joy there is always awareness: when you are truly contentedly happy, you are only waiting for the end of that particular moment.
But today I don’t feel it, that knowledge. I have it, know it, but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel worried or superstitious or anything else but good.
It is a new year, 2012, and I’m beginning it with joy and calm and excitement. My kids are amazing. I have a book to finish writing, and new ideas to begin thinking about. Chris and I are reading George RR MArtin and making silly jokes to each other, about dragons and swords. Our house is snug and the ground beneath it feels sturdy.
And for now, the weather… is holding.
So I want to leave you with this, a little O’Hara.
Happy New Year! May your weather hold.
For Grace, After A Party
You do not always know what I am feeling. Last night in the warm spring air while I was blazing my tirade against someone who doesn't interest me, it was love for you that set me afire, and isn't it odd? for in rooms full of strangers my most tender feelings writhe and bear the fruit of screaming. Put out your hand, isn't there an ashtray, suddenly, there? beside the bed? And someone you love enters the room and says wouldn't you like the eggs a little different today? And when they arrive they are just plain scrambled eggs and the warm weather is holding.