merry christmas eve, my friends. and happy day after festivus. what a wondrously dreary day it has been here in the newly freezing austin, texas. everywhere you look, people are donning their hats and scarves, just bought or brought out from the depths of closets. tis the season. tis a week of winter before the return of indian summer next week.
as for me, i'm still in pajamas at 6 pm, listening to madeleine peyroux and enjoying a wee nip of the christmas bushmills. the christmas presents are wrapped, and helen and i are going to attend a christmas eve mass somewhere tonight. do we visit the chapel of st david's downtown? or do we enjoy the quiet beauty of a bell choir at all saints church near campus? decisions decisions.
so this is my first official week in austin: lazing around listening to fabulous music (nana mouskouri is singing ave maria now), all the while trying to prepare my transitional heart for christmas. for what christmas means to a pilgrim girl in a new town, on the cusp of her new life. there is no room for apprehension this week. helen and charleydog make certain of that. how does one put into words the experience of spending her first christmas with her beloved? and her dog? this is wonder. this is home.
oh but still. of course i am missing nashville this week. where is my kevin? oh kevin, where are you? where is marlei? where is st. a's? you are the solid ground beneath my feet. i miss you.
such sentimentality today, yes? ha. there is plenty of room for that today, i think.
friends, how goes your christmas? do tell. where does your heart lie during such a sentimental season?
it's saturday night, and i'm sitting here in my jacket, awaiting a phone call from marlei, whom i am meeting for one last weekend night on the town before i move. it has been an interesting, slow-moving day, much like the scene of a quiet movie: every face, poignant. every moment, meaningful.
i worked this morning: my second to last day at starbucks. i trained a new girl on the bar. i gave out samples. i sold an espresso machine. i smoked two cigarettes while wearing a santa hat. i was festive. and then i went home for awhile.
later, i went to see the movie, closer, with my friends melissa and carlen. it was a movie for the weather: dark, cold, and brooding. however sad the characters' predicaments, i was moved to a place of quiet and hope deep down within me. i left the theater with a renewed sense of self, that i'm not as fucked up as i could be...at least not as much as these characters. and i am certainly not alone. that's half the battle, isn't it? to be able to recognize that i'm not alone? i think so. and so i've felt confident enough to spend the evening by myself, with a book and an irish coffee, reading in the corner of jackson's. i'm once again reading james baldwin, after devouring sena jeter naslund's four spirits. these authors' words seep deeply into my heart, and i hope their inspirations can translate to my hands; that i may someday articulate myself and my stories as powerfully. how have they created such marvels?
i am very aware that this is my last saturday in nashville. and so tonight, time is moving frame by frame. every moment stands alone as its own world. just like thursday at starbucks when, with an empty cafe, we green-aproned baristas watched the sunset through the windows: deep, mournful orange against a black-streaked wintergrey sky. the landscape has been perpetually wet for weeks here, and so all of suburban franklin's puddles glowed a reflective fire in that five minutes of dusk. how can i recount a scene that has been described endlessly for milennia? "never write about a sunset," a poetry professor once advised me. "it's been done too many times. what do you think you could possibly add to something that is pretty much cliche anymore in the world of writing?" my answer: nothing. i simply saw what i saw. and i was awestruck for a moment. we all were, and we took turns standing outside with our cigarettes, absorbing what would be gone five minutes later. i am proud of us.
marlei has called. and i am off to beethoven's for a cocktail, one last time.
charley is napping at my feet right now, and the rain has just decided to come down out there. it's an afternoon for sleeping, or blogging, and between charley and me, we've got all bases covered.
vince guaraldi is doing his charlie brown christmas thang, and i'm munching on dove dark chocolate. ah, the decadence of the christmas season. always give from the heart, the good people of dove chocolates admonish us on the inside of a foil wrapper. good. i'll remember that.
i actually went to church this morning, after being away for weeks. mark forrester preached a beautiful (and not too political) sermon on not living in the past. he spoke of the balance of carrying the past with us--remembering and gleaning--but not trying to recreate it. we're doomed if we do. nostalgia is typically for a time and place that never quite existed anyway. and the part that spoke the most to me was his words about advent: that it is a season of remembering the future, in an almost stephen hawking "brief history of time" kind of way. and that it's the same with the eucharist: we are remembering christ's redemption of us, and ingesting the remembrance of our constant and future redemption.
sometimes all this mystery and quantum physics take me by surprise, swirl around my brain like snowflakes around a lightpost. and then i'm brought back down to the simplicity of singing "amazing grace" along with everyone else in the chapel, quietly. i exhale. i have my whole life to embrace the bigness of time and faith. kingdom come is among us. i'm walking forward into it. i know it.
i'm walking all the way to austin, texas, actually. in thirteen days and some odd hours, charley and i will pack up my cr-v, and drive westward, toward that next chapter. this is a move that has been a long time coming, and it comes with much anticipation. i promise to take nashville with me, though, in the same mysterious way that mark preached this morning.