Saturday, December 20, 2008

Moments of Joy Between Storms

Growing up in New York City where anyone sane uses public transportation, I never learned to drive on snow and ice. Even now, as soon as the ground turns white, I panic. Racing to the grocery store to stock up on life’s necessities—bananas, dark chocolate, eggs, spinach, crackers, yogurt, cheese, apples, soup stock, romaine, red peppers, cat food—I stuff the cabinets and refrigerator as full as my Jewish mother would have. I dash to the library to pick up reserved books and find a few promising DVDs. Only then can I relax and settle in at home.
I write, drink Stash peach black tea with vanilla Silk, pet the cats a lot, and worry. Will the power go out? How long will it be before I can drive again? Will I be able to get to dinner with friends, to my dream group, to my Women’s Circle holiday party, to see the Christmas boats with my husband Tom?
After three days of this, I grow very crabby. I crave exercise, I’m desperate for sight of a flower, I miss my garden. I get snappish with Tom. I start feeling old and decrepit. I realize that my hair is way overdue for cutting, that all vestiges of my summer tan are gone, that my muscles are turning to jelly. Worst of all, I have nothing to write about, with the garden shrouded in snow.
So today, I am overjoyed to watch the black asphalt reappear as the snow and ice melts. I call my hairdresser and she too is elated, as her morning has been filled with cancellations. Together we maniacally exult over this surprising window between storms, as she snips, shapes and fluffs. It’s heavenly to be surrounded by people, by the smell of lavender botanical shampoo as Tracey massages it into my hair, even by the sounds of muzak. I leave feeling renewed, and head for Starbucks to get a soy latte.
Most days, I see these kinds of activities as interruptions in my writing and gardening day, but today I soak in every sensory detail and stimulus. When a woman bumps my grocery cart near the refrigerated cheeses at Trader Joe’s, I give her a big smile. I savor the food samples with complete and sincere thankfulness—Stilton embedded with cranberries on a cracker with a side of sharp cheddar are exquisitely delicious, especially since I skipped half my breakfast to get to the hairdresser’s on time.
Every day is filled with amazing moments of beauty and pleasure, but these bursts of delight are more vivid after a period of emptiness. I think we’re in for more snow soon, and I hope I’ll remember the benefits of being housebound, and go with the flow.

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