Whenever I see old family photographs, they often look as if the whole gestalt of that moment were peaceful, tranquil. If by some magic you could go back there now, maybe you could wander out of the frame and enjoy the picnic, the party, the holiday, that was the occasion for the photo. People seem to be enjoying themselves because after all they are all smiling, right? You don't get what went on before the moment caught on film, or after. All you have is a person with a smile, or maybe a funny face.
I recently took a road trip to Sacramento, driving alone up the I-5. This is a trip I made many, many times when I was working, and although the I-5 has never been known as a picturesque drive, I always loved it. The California landscape is never boring to me. The mountains are lovely, even sensuous with their undulating contours and changing colors. Wild radish and mustard, lush California lilacs, line the roadside.
Cleaning up a fairy garden means that first you have to find all the fairies and give them a bath. Then it may be necessary to refresh a little paint here and there, no matter how hard they try to resist. And if they have left their Winter Solstice decorations up, you must retrieve those, clean them up, and find safe storage so that they can be used again during the appropriate season. There is always a question of how the furnishings have been rearranged, as well.
This picture breaks my heart.
Government business in government buildings grinds slow, inching along while endless conversations and copy machines murmur and people are restless in folding chairs, on dirty seats stained with coffee or soda or maybe even body fluids. Rehearsing what you will say, not paying much attention except to track your turn, you wait. If you want to be heard, you wait.
There is a particular longing, ever-present, and unnamed
permeating into areas ordinarily inaccessible if circumscribed by specifics.
How, then, can it be a particular longing?
But it is something -- something unclaimed, wandering loose, or sitting forlornly, like lost luggage.
A sensitivity stripped bare? A need for astonishing uninhibited connection?
Driving North, 1959
What is your Christmas dream? Every year I start spinning holiday fantasies long before Thanksgiving. I find myself rummaging around in early Christmas memories and building a chain that links to the present.
The things we are told about ourselves and our family history shape who we are.
The act of caring for plants, digging in the dirt, has also become a journey into my past. Pulling a weed here, trimming a dead branch or clipping spent blossoms, I am making a more orderly, accessible garden. And while I am doing all of that, in my head I am weeding and trimming old conversations, events, trying to make sense out of what could have been said or not said, what could have been done differently, what would have fit the place, the occasion, better.