Early morning, the start of a journey. Just about to board the ferry then head south for the weekend.
We were beginning a big adventure. We’re in process now. Adopting. It’s going to be a long time —— and we don’t know how long, so we’re going to be living in murky uncertainty for awhile —— but we’re officially in motion now.
A hundred clear images from those two days are rippling through my mind right now. However, I’m not going to write them down. This part of our lives we’re keeping private. It feels too intimate and important to share here. We hope you’ll understand.
Those days were porous with connections, new friendships, and hopes. So many hopes. I know that when I think of that time, I’ll remember this moment. The light, early morning, about to begin.
I don’t know where we were going here. Uptown, I’m sure. To the grocery store? To Lu’s preschool? To the library to pick up another dozen books for evening reading? To the ferry?
I really don’t remember. We could have been listening to the Wiggles, or Barenaked Ladies, or NPR. Maybe we were telling stories to Lu in the back seat. Or talking about Danny’s interpretations of his work place. Or talking about a recipe we were going to cook that night.
Honestly, there’s nothing I remember about that day, other than the light on the water and that bank of clouds high in the sky.
In the library parking lot with Lu, I looked down to see this wet black light on red leaves.
“This is why they call it fall, Lu,” I told her. “Because the leaves fall off the trees. See?”
She looked at the leaves, then the trees. “They look like sticks, Mama!”
Yes, they do.
There was nothing extraordinary about this moment. Except everything.
Something about this photograph made my heart pulse in my chest a little more loudly after I took it.
It was the light. That light coming in from the doorway.
Something warm. Unexpected. It had been such a cold, grey day.
I kept looking at this photo for awhile, but I decided to not use it in a post. After awhile, all I could see is that I didn’t sweep the floor before I lay that roasting pan down on it. I couldn’t show that.
Screw it. I didn’t sweep the floor first.
Last week, the dishes needed doing. (They do again, right now.) Instead of jumping up to do them, I sat at the computer to write.
Temporarily stuck, I turned to see the light streaming through the windows, hitting the dirty dishes like this.
I had to take a photograph. It woke me up.
Next week, there are going to be a lot of dirty dishes. It’s Thanksgiving a week from today, of course.
Is it just me? Or is everyone in a frenzy about this? Every online source I’m seeing — magazines and blogs — is shouting BEST EVER or EASIEST or DIFFERENT THAN EVERYONE ELSE’S!
I do this too. We all do. We live in a culture that’s not content with “good enough,” unless it comes to school lunches for millions of kids. (People, pizza is not a vegetable. That’s pretty embarrassing.)
But god forbid that turkey is dry next week.
It’s one meal. And if we put this much emphasis on it being perfect or better than ever? I fear there’s going to be a lot of stressed-out people sitting at tables with the people they love.
Expectations are premature disappointments, someone wise said to me more than a decade ago. It has stayed with me since, that little hit of light.
I don’t know where I’m going with all this. It felt like something I wanted to write. I still don’t know why.
All I know is that I read this quote by Robert Mankoff, as the opener to the New Yorker’s food issue and I sat down to write right after:
“I know this makes me sound like a curmudgeon, but now that Andy Rooney has died I feel someone has to take up the mantle of cantankerousness. By relentlessly raising the bar for the satisfaction we demand from an apple or a cup of coffee, we assure that most apples and cups of coffee won’t measure up. And the very useful human capacity for adaptation only makes the quest for perfection more quixotic, because great food eventually gives us no more pleasure than what was good. So, when I hear ‘Good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good is better and the better is best,’ I say, “Let it rest.’”
Let it rest.
Most of us are probably trying to hide our unswept floors.
There’s an apple in the fruit basket, right next to the dishes that need doing. There are two nibbles out of it — Lu was sitting on the counter, sampling — and the flesh there has gone brown. I’m going to stop writing now and go eat my mediocre apple.
And stand by the window, looking for the light.
“If you stop photographing things, and start to photograph light, you will amaze yourself.” — Steve Coleman