Saturday, January 6, 2018

Window shopping online

"And taken or just lost to me, it’s better now to say
I dwell in possibility on New Year’s Day."

I was hoping to end the year with a philosophical post, full of wit and wisdom about the old and the new, the past and the present and the future.

So, that didn’t happen.

I did have some sobering things to reflect upon. Time just tesseracted or bent or worm-holed, and I looked up and it’s 2018.

Two of my friends - glass community friends, but in this case both real-life ones too - lost their husbands in December.

In mid-December Diane’s husband died suddenly after a brief illness. Despite being a non-drinker or smoker, a bad case of bronchitis somehow morphed into acute liver failure, and medical science was unable to halt the damage.

A week or so later, Lisa’s husband lost a lengthy and bitterly fought battle with lymphoma. Most of the last year was spent in and out of the ICU, trying to find the right chemotherapy, ultimately hoping to get strong enough for an experimental drug trial.

It caused me to ponder which scenario would be worse, losing someone suddenly or watching them suffer and slowly lose the battle.

In the first instance, the shock would be overwhelming and pummeling, whereas in the latter you’d have time to prepare and maybe to say all the things you wanted to say.

Hypothetically at least.

I’m not sure you can ever really prepare. I think you’d always be holding on to hope. I would not want to watch someone I loved be sick for a prolonged time.

If it was me who died, I’d rather it be over quickly than spend a long time terminally ill.

Not that we get a choice, so I suppose all the pondering in the world is at most theoretical.

And you never know how you’ll feel until you are sporting those particular shoes.

For me these deaths can only serve as a reminder to treasure whatever time I do have with the ones I love, to be kinder and more forgiving and more giving.

I especially needed to remember this right now, as the house spun out of control with our visitors. I had to remind myself that Neil is tense but not necessarily angry at me. Rooms can be tidied, laundry done, floors cleaned, dishes washed and put away. I can endure a little chaos, just for a few days.

We knew that icy conditions and the age range of our guests would make activities a challenge. Cabin fever is always a big risk, but for me it’s the onslaught of people and loud voices and nonstop interaction that really takes me out.

It was a little like my recent outing with Neil to see The Last Jedi.

I’m not a Star Wars fan. I’ve seen the original but none of the others. I’ve balked at going in the past, but as part of the new and improved, kinder, gentler me, I agreed to accompany Neil. I don’t mind going to a movie alone, but many people do, and there’s also wanting to have someone to talk about it with afterwards.

So I went, with no expectations of anything beyond tolerating the show and trying to find something positive to say about it. The story more or less kept my attention, despite knowing none of the nuances behind the plot and character development. It was very long, which I knew going in, but I stuck with the narrative and only got really restless near the end.

There’s not much I can say about it. It was probably an advantage that I knew so little of the legend history, so I didn’t have much investment in the story line. Naturally it was overproduced, with lots of special effects, although possibly less than the previous move, The Force Awakens, based on my watching of the trailer.

I walked out feeling a little shell-shocked just by virtue of the assault on my senses, the lights, the noise, the movement, the whole big-screen action-adventure experience.

Entertaining an 88-year-old, a one-year-old, and three 30-year-olds is somewhat similar.

Everyone is loud, everyone is always talking, except the baby, who isn't talking yet and mostly makes cute sounds but can wail at impressive decibels when his baby brain so dictates.

In some ways it was fun. We laughed a lot playing the box game, Pick Your Poison. Belly-laughing feels good.

We ate well, but too much, and too often. Chicken tenders and salad. Bagels and bran muffins. Sushi and more sushi. Pizza and gelato. North Carolina barbecue and pecan cobbler with ice cream.

Arctic temperatures made any sort of outdoor activities impossible. Even bundling up and taking a walk was uninviting. Going to and from the cars was all the exposure to the elements we could tolerate.

I did not walk on the treadmill. I did not light my torch. I did sell some beads. I did spend way too much time window shopping online.

Window shopping online. Shopping in browser windows. I didn't buy a lot. I mostly drooled over things I don't really need, like boiled wool slippers to the tune of $100 and up. I discovered Earth Origins sandals and I want red ones. And black ones and brown ones. I got some blue ones. I have half a dozen pairs in my Amazon shopping cart.

My Fluevog boots came, the ones I exchanged for the last pair I got that pinched my baby toes. The new ones fit me so well that I want to order them in the other colorway but I'm trying to resist.

After finally finishing Forbrydelsen, the Danish original series of The Killing (literally, the crime), I want a Fair Isle sweater. Who knew how hard they are to find and how expensive for the nice quality ones.

Having survived the family onslaught, I feel I am ready to begin my year. For a hot minute, due to the frigid temperatures and winter storm warnings, there was some thought of extending the visit by a day. But happily everyone went home as planned and the quiet at home is blissful.

Our cleaning lady came and the house is clean.

We've eaten light simple meals and gone back to our evening TV watching rituals. The cats have resumed their positions by the fireplace, although they did pretty well on the whole with the company.

I worked on beads for a custom order. I filed my last Texas sales tax return. I made vet appointments for the cats. I set up a consultation with a financial advisor to rebalance my assets.

And I started the ball rolling for a cruise to Alaska this summer, for Neil and me, my kids and their crew. The price tag gives me anxiety, it's not something I can afford to do often, in fact, it may be a once-in-a-lifetime splurge. But I've thought about it and talked about it for a long time and I'm really excited about the idea of seeing Alaska with my family.

I have to remind myself, for the most part, it's the things not done that we regret.

So once the financial advisor helps me figure out how to tap some of my liquid investments, I'm going car shopping.

Not to worry, I'm not manic. My car is 10 years and 100,000 miles old. I plan to keep the next one just as long. And don't I deserve heated seats, a sound system to play the 40,000 songs I have on iTunes and a backup camera?

I've been clutching my nest egg like grim death for a long while. But there are no guarantees about the future.

And while I do want to have a little something to leave behind for my kids, I don't doubt that they'll be taking that cruise and buying that car after I'm gone.

Might as well live a little. Because I can. While I can.

We are sitting at a table
In a bar in Baltimore
It’s the last night of December
And the room is nearly full
And the front door pulls a draft in
Every time it opens wide
And you are telling me a story
From another time and life

And the waitress brings our order
And we’re tucked in mighty close
And I feel like we belong among
The living and these ghosts
And I know that I am dreaming
As I memorize each part
In the telling lies a reverie
In the details lie the heart

Like the folds of summer dresses
Like the scent upon my wrist
Like the way you play guitar
Like a boxer punches with his fist
And taken or just lost to me
It’s better now to say
I dwell in possibility
On New Year’s Day

There’s a jukebox or a bandstand
And we’re on another round
And the night’s just getting started
Or the night’s just winding down
And your stories are not clouded yet
By the ale or by the gin
They just make me feel as if I’ve known you
All my life again

And this is what it looked like
When we started walking home
The night sky bleached to silver
Against the city’s bones
In dreams or in our waking
It’s just enough to say
Love and grace and endless flowers
Be ours on New Year’s Day

And the folds of summer dresses
And the bangles on my wrist
And the way you play guitar
Like a boxer punches with his fist
And taken or just lost to us
It’s better now to say
We dwell in possibility
On New Year’s Day.

(Mary Chapin Carpenter)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz