Thursday, December 06, 2007

Too fine a point

Not sure where to start this, so I guess I'll start with the drive. Tonight, amidst the falling snow, I left my house, husband tucking present-crazed child into bed, mother and stepfather watching television in the basement. At almost 9:00 on a Thursday evening with two inches down in the last hours upon the almost foot of snow on the ground, did I really need to be out driving?

A girlfriend of mine is out of town for a few days and I promised her that I'd go by her house and pick up her mail and any packages that might have been dropped there. In fact, even when she goes out of town for only a couple of days, I always volunteer to do it. And I don't mind doing it. Somehow, perhaps, by visiting her house while she's gone I feel like I'm tending the friendship or visiting just a little.

Anyhow, as I drove into her neighborhood, I noticed a young man walking on the other side of the road. I was struck by such jealousy (though jealousy isn't the word)-- I wanted to be him. Suddenly I could read this stranger's gait and I knew: He's young, he's working something out as he slices through the snow. Sometimes you just need to escape into an outside where you can march the stupidity out of yourself and your thinking.

As I pulled into my friend's driveway, I noticed three hulking boxes which looked like elephants trying t0 "hide" behind the fake doric columns of her front porch. They looked so insipid! And somehow so sweet as well, like they were trying so hard.

I feel like that often myself, especially around my son. I am so filled with love for him, I could just be him. Then I remove myself and say this is the adult voice I use and the sensible thing I say to make sure you're safe and know boundaries all the while thinking Ha! If he only knew how we are all just pretending.

I loaded the awkward boxes into the back of my car, quickly rearranging my daily detritus (grocery freezer bag, pair of son's rubber frog boots only worn inside the house) and tossing them on top. Haphazard, but out of the snow. Not so silly and alone on the porch at least.

On the way back, I started to drive even more slowly, more deliberately. And I'm not sure it was out of a sense of safety, but rather, as though my wheels were working through something for me. I realized that I was listening to a classical piece that siphened me into it, and everything I saw was an extension of that listening, that movement of the car, the music. The snow is piled in drifts reflecting tangerine-colored light from the streetlights. All somehow so cozy and perfect and piled it seemed out of a movie, or a thought about winter, not actual winter itself.

Passing all the strung-up lights, the white deer were silhouetted and illuminated at once as they grazed upon the snow-wrapped yards. Dwarf pines swathed in frenetic dancing lights looked like little overdressed chihuahuas, blinking to themselves in that nervous way. All this man-made love and the snow arranging themselves together, working it out.

And that, perhaps, is exactly it. Working it out is beautiful and human and sometimes forced. And sometimes loveliness and grace just happens to settle up upon it-- upon the intention and the ritual and the routes of dailiness. Grace upon work. Work in the hopes of grace.

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