when snow falls on a small town, suddenly you go from having very little to do to absolutely nothing. shops and schools close. people get in pajamas and stay that way all weekend, huddled in kitchens and on sofas. they have real conversations and finally watch those movies on their lists.
but we had to get out this weekend. had to feel the weight of the truck on the road. had to slip into a corner booth and listen to live music and eat sloppy barbecue. and when that was over, we played our favorite game. we call this game, "people watching at wal-mart." with milkshakes in hand and the lights off, we park a good enough distance away and make up storylines about the characters that walk in and out of that glorious, extremely well-lit mecca of retail. because at wal-mart, people are at their most ordinary, and i love that. no pretense. no makeup. no heels. just running in to grab some cereal. or a firearm. or a grill. or maybe a t-shirt.
and last night was similar. just an ordinary monday. with a walk to mom and dad's. with desert before supper. with a dark room filled with the bachelor and dallas, and a fire.
but i love these times. an entire life is built on ordinary mondays and ordinary people. moments of familiarity that slowly, over the course of months and years and decades, shape us into humans capable of feeling and reaching and loving and even dreaming.
even though we swore up and down that we weren't going to give each other gifts for christmas because we took our trip the week before the holidays, my sneaky husband got me a new cd player for my car. mainly for me, but a little bit for him, because every time we rode in my car we had to play either the radio or a CD from the 1990s, because the player stopped reading new discs.
with this newfound player, i have discovered the joy of hooking up my phone--oh the pandora mornings! as i drove into work, i played my favorite ingrid michaelson station, and "giving up" came on right as i entered onto the highway, saying a prayer for a clear lane.
and this line: i am giving up on half-empty glasses stuck out, clear and big as the billboards on the roadside.
i am giving up
i'm giving up on the negativity. on the worries. on the little defeats that threaten to upset a day. on the nights where it just feels better to get in bed at eight than stay up and make the hard day any longer. on the rude tones, drivers, and restaurant patrons.
this notion of giving it all up, relinquishing that suffocating, tightening, destroying control is such a beautiful thought to me. i don't have to even look at the thing anymore.
and maybe i'll put a half-full one in its place, or maybe i won't. maybe i'll just drink the dang water and forget about the philosophical strings tied to it. let it slip deep down and nourish. fill me up enough until i'm the glass. because there's a vessel inside each of us and i'm giving up the empty parts in exchange for the hope that maybe, just maybe, there's enough full to last for today.
it was hard to leave the house this morning, with the sunrise spilling in across the bed and pablo's eyes not yet open to the day. it reminded me of how we spent this weekend, the three of us huddled under covers while it snowed and sleeted and rained outside, eventually giving way to sun bright and warm enough to walk in.
this was a long weekend of coffee, movies, reading and talking. of stretching and moving and then sitting for inordinately long periods of time on the couch. and for the first time in a while i remembered what relaxing felt like. the tangible weight of Nothing To Do. where the days pass and you change from one form of lounge pants and a t-shirt to another, then into pajamas when the day gets dark enough to warrant such delicious comfort.
we talked about our garden, and our honeybees. about the beach in february and the newport folk festival in july. we planned and schemed our future a little bit on monday. there are big decisions coming up soon. but for now, for this little pocket of a weekend, we were two kids in the country, a mile or two from the high school halls where we met, cocooning under a homemade afghan and existing on little but egg sandwiches and kit-kats. oh but what a sweet time this is.
speaking of pretend, pablo likes to pretend he's an outdoor dog by looking out the window toward freedom. what a suppressed life that dog leads (not).
there was a man who called our house once convinced that someone else was on the other line.
he asked by name to speak to someone we did not know. and at first, we tried to explain. sir, you have the wrong number. but due to bad hearing or not listening or some combination of both, he kept on. he was thrilled to hear our voices. he had been wondering how we'd been. he missed us. he filled us in on the day-in, day-out happenings of his life. of cousins we must be thinking about and aunts he was certain we hadn't seen in ages.
and he called back, this man. left rambling messages on our machine. we'd huddle around it and listen as he breathed laboriously on the other end. sometimes, when we were there, we'd pick up, and engage him. be for him, in that moment, the family he needed us to be. he stopped calling after a while, but i never forgot it. maybe his memory failed him. maybe he truly thought my dad was his nephew. maybe he had pretended long enough that he forgot it was a charade and had succeeded in convincing even himself this was true.
i found myself thinking about him this morning while pouring my coffee. about how we morph into who someone thinks we are, sometimes without even knowing. and often, this is such a catastrophe. because the skinny jeans don't always fit and maybe the bangs aren't right for our face shape, or the book just doesn't excite that part of us that books are supposed to excite.
but sometimes this transformation can be just a little exciting, even fun. when you slip on the work pumps even though you sometimes feel just special enough for flats. when you curl your hair and swipe on the lipstick to become ready for friday night. or when you nod across the phone line that yes, you miss uncle billy even though you know full well that uncle billy is not your uncle billy and may not be anyone's uncle or even named billy. because pretend doesn't always mean pretense, after all.
this weekend was actually quite foggy. and muggy. but when the blanket of haze wasn't covering the space outside our windows, it was breezy and pretty enough for two long walks through the country. we passed a sweet neighbor who, upon seeing us, quickly ran inside and brought out a gift bag filled with homemade chow-chow and a kind note that mentioned, "we need more young folks on this road." another neighbor, sweet crazy ol' jerry, walked to greet us, among his used tires and puppy dogs and piles of split logs, and declared that he was carrying the best flu medicine available in his little silver mug. we smiled and kept on down the road. bless his country-blastin, western-watchin, kind-as-can-possibly-be old heart.
it was a weekend spent indoors, behind gas log fireplaces and dark rooms filled with only the television glow. inside church fellowship halls. at one point, i had my entire family around our farm table, with the lamplight illuminating their pretty faces and i felt my heart swell with gratitude. for this time. for this place. for this season.
but when the sun did peek her pretty head out and cover the back yard with enough glow to take some pictures, i ventured out with some new treasures ready to be added to my shop. and how good it felt to pose again. to slip on the beautifully preserved pieces and think about the women who wore them first. who thought and dreamed and wished and yearned and worried and loved just as i have.
hope your weekend was equally blessed and beautiful.
it's supposed to be seventy this weekend, but right now it's misty and cloudy in my corner of carolina. it's so gloomy out that the owl who perches on the old swing outside my bedroom window, the one i nicknamed peter, was nowhere to be found when i rose this morning and stretched against the pane.
though we've been here almost a month and half, i haven't really gone out into the backyard for the blanket of chill that has laid itself across these grounds. but i remember it. one hot evening in summer when i was in middle school, i sat cross-legged on the grass and found about 10 four-leaf clovers. i pressed them into my bible and ran in to tell my parents. now they are crumbled stems between the pages, traces that remind me of all that was good and beautiful about being young, and all that is sweet and sacred about being here, in this same house, so many moons later.
but tomorrow, we will go back there. past the place where the see-saw used to be. the rusty one nanno salvaged from the church yard sale. i will decorate the old shed with christmas lights and dust off the picnic benches. we will pick out a spot for our honeybees and dig our hands into the earth to prepare it for our garden. today reminds me that winter is still here in all her frosted glory. but springtime is quick on her heels, bearing clover and crocuses, bare legs and painted toes. and hopefully, the return of peter.
i came home from the grocery store last night exhausted with nothing to show for my work save a box of hamburger helper and a bag of ham-beens 15-bean soup. and i found robert by the computer, working on plumbing tickets, sipping what i'm sure was his fourth or fifth cup of coffee.
and in that moment, with pablo sitting on the green chair in the corner, it felt like home. felt like a few months ago, when i would return to the cottage to find him in the same position, pablo still patiently waiting.
because this is how you build a home. you stop the decorating for a second. the hanging of pictures and measuring of blinds. the arranging of china and selection of rug textures, colors and prices. i found, this time around, that taking time to step back from designing a home and actually learning to live in it, weekday by tedious weekday, makes the transition easier.
it's the hairbands on the bathroom counter. the shoes by the doorway. the laundry in the dryer. the way the comforter crumbles under the weight of tired arms. the reverb of the lawrence welk record in the den as eggs are scrambled in the kitchen. the late-night devotions and early morning prayers in the driveway.
and it's the lamp with the elephant-shaped handles in the corner. reminding you of another life, time and place. of all that has been and will be and is happening right at this very moment. that home really is the people in it, and all their sounds, messes, piles, smiles and smells are the symphony to which you dance by, day-in and day-out.