dear existentialists: as long as there are stories born of the lips brave enough to tell them, my life has meaning.
ms. l'engle's truth-telling words, framed in green, hang above my bed, keeping watch as i sleep.
mercy and reconciliation can come to us through story.
this much, i believe.
we saw patty griffin tonight. ryman auditorium. section 7, row z, seats four and five. i forgot to wear a coat. i forgot to eat the snickers bar i brought.
patty with her red dress on.
she sang her songs, tuned her guitars, tinkered beautifully with her piano.
the existentialists say that we all have to die alone. what they forgot to add is that we all have to experience the beauty of real, raw music alone. we can sit in seats four and five, respectively, sigh to each other as we applaud, but our moments are our own. the beauty is ours alone to reckon with.
and so we were all alone with patty, and she brought out emmylou harris, and buddy & julie miller to keep us company. they all sang mary.
jesus says mother i couldn't stay another day longer
he flies right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
while the angels are singing their praises
in a blaze of glory
mary stays behind and
starts cleaning up the place
bring on the ambience of guitar and piano, upright bass and lingering vibrato, ethereal angels and legends and ghosts.
what happens to all this beauty?
does it disappear the moment we pull our cars into garages? silent. dark. door closes.
i want to bottle tonight like tears.
i am tired. know why? because. marlei and i drove to knoxville last night. and drove back this afternoon.
we drove to knoxville for the sake of tumbling. let me clarify: we watched her daughter's tumbling invitational.
twenty-four hours ago, i could not tell you a damned thing about tumbling. now, i am something like an expert. i sat in the bleachers for several hours, chomping on $2 hot pretzels and drinking $3 bottled water, watching. i listened to the tumbling mom drama happening all around me, as mothers with camcorders practically accused the judges of taking bribes. scandal. (the judges were more focused on all the candy they got to eat while sealing fates than actually watching the girls compete. this was my astute assessment.) i watched girl comraderie, as fellow athletes in matching track suits whispered and cheered together. marlei and i pried open our eyes as we sat through the neverending awards ceremony.
and then we drove home.
and then i grew stir crazy.
played video games.
tried (futilely) to make last minute plans. failed.
talked to my long lost darling victoria.
blogged in pajamas and slippers.
and now she goes to bed.
nashville. just after midnight.
temperature: 5 degrees fahrenheit.
pressure: 30.63 inches and rising.
trees are groaning with cold tonight. sky is too clear. stars shiver. moon, exposed. deep breaths are hardwon in this weather. your throat burns and everything you exhale is right in front of you. take a look, world: here is my breath.
and i wrap a lavender scarf tight around my neck. drive my achy car with long sleeves as gloves. frozen steering wheel. my fingers burn, nearly numb. the heater is working overtime and i am grateful for cold to hot and blasting between franklin and brentwood. our black ice highway is abandoned. i accelerate: i could drive anywhere tonight. i go home. brush my teeth with hot water. light the candle of mary's immaculate heart (the one annie bought me at harris teeter, in the mexican food section).
and now i will write awhile.
these are the choices i make.
today, we had snow on snow on snow. for nashville, this is the sort of catastrophe which brings hours of endless breaking news, making the networks postpone airings of the young and the restless and the bold and the beautiful until 1:05 am and 2:35 am, respectively.
julie predicted snow and last minute kroger bread and milk runs last night as she eased into the wintry portion of her show. winter little seed.
this morning i awoke to something like erie, pa. a snow day. and all of us stayed in: josh and sandy and rachel and me. we remained in pajamas all day. played cards and drank tea out of an awkward white pitcher, shaped like a cod. and then we bundled up and built a snowman in the big backyard. made snow angels and stared at the sky and once again, i realised that this would be the ideal way to die: muffled quiet of snow around your ears, underneath a calm grey sky.
we rolled down the hill like the cylindrical beings God created us to be, preparing the way for a nice sled path.
only we didn't have sleds, just trash can lids, which were as useless as the garbage bags my mom used to suggest as pseudo-sleds. so we found neighbors with children and borrowed theirs. and sledded for a good hour in the yard. then we had chili and wine (albeit pink) and cornbread and watched bridget jones. played more cards in front of the fire tonight, drinking more tea from the cod pot.
my eyes burn with a healthy kind of sleepiness. i feel freer than i have in a long, long time. and annie comes to visit tomorrow. goodnight.
[i should never have doubted my prolificacy: two blog days in a row.]
tonight we had a streaked-sky sunset. bright red behind trees. every face was orange-glowed. i watched from my car, twenty minutes before class started: a cigarette before existentialism. coldplay's clocks on the radio.
everything has been light for me recently. light and sam phillips. her song, 'five colors', has been in my cd player all day.
the darkest soul illuminates, she sings.
oh epiphany. becca preaches light and revelation, and premature sunsets have blinded my eyes while i'm driving. glittery winter sun catching itself on the crucifix of my father's old rosary, as it hangs from my rearview mirror; shadows of a swinging cross while i'm driving. i wonder how many hands have held this rosary. (someone brought it home from paris in a little leather pouch, where it stayed for countless years, hiding under the pocket watches in my father's top dresser drawer.) how many prayers have been strung together like beads.
becca preaches a light you have to make way for, and sixpence bears witness to a light that causes dead things to grow. my insides are tired. achy.
so i sit in class for four hours and discuss with my classmates meaning. absurdity. authenticity and choice. what is freedom? are we simply thrown out into this vast cold world on a train bound to derail, the engineer having died of a heart attack right after we boarded? (we watched the movie, runaway train tonight.) we sputter out thoughts. fragments. whatever we got. we drink diet coke and eat whatever we can find in the vending machines. we use big words. we get tired.
and i remember the other night under bright stars. by myself on the steps, wearing slippers and pajamas and a winter coat. the world is quiet and brittle. and i sigh audibly: i can't even begin to imagine that i am alone.
so. has it been a whole week since my last blog entry? shame on me.
confession: i haven't had anything to say.
the early parts of my days have been quiet, slow, warm with christian and the rhythm of routine one develops when alone with a one-year-old. the rest of my days have found me reading a lot of depressing stuff: from sartre to john hersey's hiroshima. and then i go discuss it in the context of class. what is meaning? what is literary journalism? etc.
interspersed between all of this are nice moments with marlei. an afternoon with my sister, cathy and my darling nieces. a chance to read some iona journals to the amazing women of my church. lots of sleep.
sadly, no employment at this point.
now, i shall meander back into the world of existentialism.
CALLING ALL NASHVILLIANS:
[note: i am very serious. i never use both bold and capital letters simultaneously.]
what are you doing on the night of wednesday, 15 january? whatever your plans, cancel them. because.
JULIE LEE is playing at the basement on 8th avenue s. at nine pm. you must be there.
some music makes your life better...like julie's. gogogo.
the moon is waking up now. today it is a sleepy hammock hanging low. yesterday it was a bright orange sliver, squinty. by next week, my bedroom will be fully illuminated at 2 am if i keep the shades open.
so i thought outside fidelity hall tonight, taking a break from the first night of four hour existentialism discussion. [we smoke in the designated area marked thank you for not smoking.]
one week back into nashville and already i am a student. already i am spending my mornings with a boy named christian, entertaining him with a convincing duck impression: make hand look like beak. quack. repeat indefinitely. already i've got meetings and possibilities and phonecalls home to say don't worry i've got leads. no money but leads. already.
and sigur ros plays a lingering anthem of pianos and bow-played guitars. meandering their way to something like a crescendo, then quiet. life in my room in the sleepy hours.
the thing that my grandmother never mentioned when she told me to dive in [see 4 december blog] was that diving isn't necessarily graceful. sometimes you do bellyflops. sometimes you can't hold your breath. sometimes the pool is over-chlorinated and your eyes burn.
(is chlorinated even a word? if not, i have created it. right here. and have even begun to use it with hyphens.)
so it goes, settling into this place formerly known as your familiar life. it's all your people around you again, and church, and horses who make your legs sore. bluesky mornings that make you squint when you look at your clock: 9 am, maybe you should get up.
however. there is this i-don't-know blanket over everything, behind the answer to every question. i alternately accept this as mystery and resign to it as despair. i say (and believe) i am not worried, turning up the music in my car--because i can. and then i begin to feel panicky, and turn the music down, trying to think soberly. david gray's "night blindness" gets stuck in my head: what we gonna do when the money runs out?
but then comes psalm 84, corporately read this morning: the sparrow finds her home. Providence (yes with a capital P) is much easier believed with five bucks in your pocket.
welcome to my journey into employment. into Providential trust. (happy new year, she says.)
anne lamott writing rule number whatever: find a group of friends more quotable than yourself. fair enough. here are susan's words:
i usually love this time of year but it came and went for me with a quick glance rather than a huge embrace....every day at a time instead of year by year.