After dropping the kids at school this morning, I had to drive downtown to go to a dental appointment so I turned on some music and lost myself in my thoughts as I drove. Last weekend, I went to Chicago with Deborah to do strategic planning for VillageQ but we also took some time to drink bourbon and discuss my book. She had read it, had detailed notes on the manuscript and wanted to talk about it. I wanted to talk about it and didn't want to talk about it because writing a memoir feels indulgent at times so talking about that memoir feels even more so. But Deborah is persistent. Notice I didn't say patient because her response to my deflections was consistently, "Shut up and listen to me." And I did - I listened.
When it comes to writing, I understand the minutiae. I am the kind of person who will stand in a forest and describe the dappled light on the bark of a walnut tree rather than tell you there is a bulldozer 100 feet ahead in shadows ready to raze the forest. There is work to be done with my manuscript that will require me to step away from the beauty of the light and peek into the shadows.
And I was doing that this morning - visiting memories, trying to find the emotional truth in them, attempting to understand how I can paint them in words - and as you might imagine, this made me more pensive than usual. When I get like that, I need small things in life to smack me in the head and make me laugh. Thankfully, the universe provides.
When I arrived at my appointment this morning, the dentist called my name and I followed her and she turned a corner quickly and ran right into a wall. Hard. I laughed - not nervously or subtly - but with my head thrown back, my loud laughter filling the hallway. Had she been mortified, the moment would have been ruined but she laughed too and said something awkward and then we both laughed. After the appointment, I thanked her for making my day and she thanked me for laughing with her. We both smiled and shook our heads, "What a day..." she said and I agreed. And it was only 10 a.m.
When I got home, I decided to walk down to the park to see a tree with leaves that have already changed to vibrant oranges and reds. The sun was shining and the sky was that clear blue that inspires me to say "thank you" aloud and the tree was calling me forward. I wanted to sit quietly and take a picture of it because I love Fall and days like this are my perfect days. When I got there, there was a woman with her toddler under the tree and they were gathering the colored leaves that had already fallen on the ground and tossing them above their heads and...I was annoyed. I know...you expected that I might smile and reflect on my own children and maybe even tie that reflection to the tree itself - changing seasons and all that. But no, I could only think about how this woman and her kid were hogging the tree and wrecking my Instagram shot. I waited. They continued to romp around in the leaves. I waited some more. More romping. I walked further into the park and then turned back. Still romping. I finally resigned myself to the fact that they were going to romp in those leaves like there was no tomorrow so I snapped two pictures, barely able to crop them out. As I walked away, I could hear their laughter and I hated them a little bit for ruining my moment and then I realized that I am a horrible person. Who hates romping and laughter? And I started to laugh too because I was being crazy, because I still think that I have control over anything, because life is humbling.
And just now, I got a Facetime call from Deborah and her son, Levi, popped into the frame to show me a bag of slime that looked like the product of a really bad sinus infection. He went outside to play and then came back in to show us that his hands were completely covered in slime and he couldn't get it off and I laughed and then suggested that he use soap and water and he came back to show us that his hands were still covered in slime and the towel was now covered in slime and I thought of The Cat in the Hat and the ring in the tub and I laughed even harder.
Life is ridiculous - perfectly so - and I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for people who walk into walls, for the ability to laugh at myself, for Fall, for friends and slime and for the giant latte I am going to get after I hit publish. Cheers.