you either subscribed to my tiny letter or I did it for you! Guess what? We’re back from Rhode Island. Some things that happened…
- my eye is still gently protesting
- no change of clothes–> buying Ethan a very expensive outfit that he pees on forty-five minutes later
- …and another potty incident that involves a sketchy alley in downtown Providence
- a chocolate milk incident that involves so. much. milk.
- perhaps another car accident
- a 2 am email that says no, Nancy, you are not invited to that writing workshop you were so excited about
- zip ties on children’s toys from zoo gift shop–>mental note: buy a tiny pair of scissors
- on mom notes: bring collapsible Tupperware wherever you go
- …and more socks than you’d ever think you’d need.
Of course, among all of this, there was the turnoff to Purgatory Road, which led to Purgatory Chasm, which led to a deep in-breath of the freshest, cleanest, pine-iest air I’ve ever smelled. I’ll never forget it. Alongside this, Ethan’s pure joy at watching the monkeys frolic at the zoo, and literally hopping with excitement trying to rush the admission counter alongside all the other 10 AM-at-the-zoo’ers. A perfect chocolate almond croissant. Tacos so good they brought tears to my eyes because they had my mother’s touch.
These loving kindnesses that life throws at me alongside all the other stuff are so lovely, they make my heart ache. My self-portrait for this week:
Writer’s and Lovers, Grapes of Wrath, After the Quake
Lily King’s book is so good. It’s about a woman in her thirties who still believes in her writing, and she believes in it harder than all the other chaos around her. After the Quake is about the chaos. The Grapes of Wrath is not East of Eden, which is the book I thought I owned, but it’s a reminder that to get to where you need to be…sometimes you need to go through purgatory chasm first.
Oh! And for those of you new to my rambling…I’m also sharing a tiny letter that I’m writing to Ethan daily for every day this year. I won’t share them every day, but it’s a glimpse into a shared past that you may enjoy.
March 10, 2021
I referenced the amber light in my last letter. What I didn’t mention was how it’s among one of my greatest delights to witness sunshine like this because it transports me to a window in my parents’ house in Texas—I’d pull back a heavy brocade curtain, and light would filter in wildly across the bed, and I’d take a glorious nap in a little shifting square of sunshine, or read an old favorite book, the heavy light shadowing in such a way that I could see the dimples of the page.
I treasured these moments—usually, my mother knitting quietly in the background, or making lunch and asking my opinion on what to make, tinkering around in the garden, the sound of chirping locusts as the sun went down. Time was immutable back then. Was it an hour that had passed? Five? At some point in the afternoon, I’d hear a door shutting and the soft step of my father, who had made it home from work, bringing massive joy into my young heart. I had so much to tell him, so much I had seen! I never shared the contents of my hidden heart—what I read about in books, my opinions on things—rather, the daily news, all the happenings of our household. Why didn’t I relish the boredom that came with my suburban life? Truth be told, I had a blessed childhood, the world was lovely and clean and bright and my siblings were my closest friends. In the summers, we’d visit a nearby flea market and be entranced by a couple who sold honey in tall sticks and scented pencils and a tiny bottle of Coca Cola with liquid inside and hutches full of rabbits and chickens every color of the rainbow. On the weekends, we’d take trips to Wal-Mart, Food Lion, or Sack n’ Save, and Daisy would crack open a bottle of Mr. Bubble and I’d inhale it so deeply I’d choke on it.
Sun is king in Texas. It colors all of our memories in sepia. Another sun I remember well—the Saturn V rocket backlit by an enormous sunrise or sunset. Theatrical and bright. The heavy, humid air of Houston, where I’d carry you on my shoulder with your little blue sailor hat on and walk you around the neighborhood—full of people who rarely left their houses. Each time we passed a tree with lush pink blossoms you’d squeal with excitement. When we left Clear Lake, I didn’t turn around to say goodbye. I often wonder if I should have.
Here in Massachusetts, you are fonder of the night, the full cup of moon, the glitter of stars and my tall candlesticks glowing at odd hours. We’re night and day you and I—yet we come as a package. Love you.