Saturday, December 10, 2005

What we've lost. And what we've found.

Today is insanely blue and crisp with the kind of cold that shows your breath and catches it at the same time. There’s still snow up in the hills and Douglas Firs lined up in no longer "vacant" vacant lots and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/HappyHolidays are upon us, literally squatting, really, demanding attention must be paid, offerings of joviality and radiant happiness and I’m trying to be filled with that, believe me, but mostly what I am is another vacant lot. And I’m sitting here trying not to think of the people I’ve recently lost, which is such a stupid, stupid word—lost—as if they’re not dead I’ve just misplaced them, left them at some cash register or stuffed in a pocket, because I never left them, they left me. They’re gone, done.

You’re left with a hole—and what remains is what you fill it with. As my let-me-bow-before-your-brilliance-like-an-insignificant-child poet du jour W.S. Mervin puts it, "Your absence has gone through me/Like thread through a needle/Everything I do is stitched with its color."

So here’s to the color I look for around every corner, behind every tree, every day. These joyous, breakable times just seem to intensify it.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

A beautiful shade of blue.

Ripeness doesn't come without tears or loss or a heavy sense that things are moving inexorably in a direction we didn't chose. Dammit, this getting older hurts. It bruises. It batters with reality and doesn't quit. That's how I feel right now. This month. Lately. Something has happened, and it's changing me, and I will let it transform me into something good and strong and maybe, if I'm wise and willing, a little better. But it doesn't feel good. I'm being forced to let go. To admit. To confess. To say "Goodbye." To surrender. Yes, really. And not just once. But over and over again.

And I can't escape it. No one can escape it. We didn't say it in the book, but maybe we should have. The hard thing is death. Not menopause (that relative joyride), but death. Because sure as rain, it's coming. In fact, it's already come. It's come to our parents. And if it hasn't visited them, it will. It's come to so many friends, friends whose names we repeat daily, litanies, prayers, to keep them close, and to remind them, if they are listening, that they are with us still. It has come to novelists we loved, and poets we wanted to be. It has come to contemporaries who sang bad songs that made them momentarily famous. It has come to spouses, by god. Soul mates. It has brushed too close. It sits behind ringing telephones at ungodly hours. And like the postman, it rings more than once. We have survived so far, and we will carry on, but we have to face the facts. We will carry on only so long, then others will say our names every day.

This is hard, so hard. The sadness is deeper than the Mariannas Trench.

But all I can say, though I can't explain it, is that there is a beauty in it too. The same kind of beauty you find in the eyes of a damaged soul, or a person who has seen more than you have. The same kind of beauty that radiates from someone hanging on with the help of medicines that can't be pronounced. The beauty of that which is fleeting even as you discover it. The beauty of youth. The beauty of the very, very old. The beauty of hands. Coffee cups, one day to be chipped and rendered useless. The last time you speak to a friend.

And it is this beauty, the beauty of what we hang on to with each breath, that matters. Nothing more. Nothing less. Airy and light as that depression-colored sky. Or deeper and darker and darker still, so blue it's black, revealing as we sink even lower into that trench, that even when the light can no longer be seen, life is everywhere. —Charlotte