- Elizabeth Hand, Waking the Moon
Things at work are pretty crazy at the moment, such that I'm actually mostly doing actual work most of the workweek. Surely this offense to the natural order of things will pass soon, and I can get back to reasonable amounts of multi-slacking and stuff...but in the meantime, there's a certain satisfaction in it, a kind of honest challenge and joy in problems solved.
Friday, I left the office just after 5:00 and walked around downtown. The air was warm, humid, poised on the edge of storm, but it was nice enough that the sidewalks were packed with people: office lackeys like me, in Friday casuals and flip flops, walking from store to store; kids of every stripe, wearing shorts and radiating energy, excited to be outside and warm, like it was the first time this year; families of tourists, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to look at street signs, crumpled maps, and eventually passersby, in the hopes of finding someone who wasn't glaring and might be willing to give them directions. I stopped at a tea shop and read a few pages of my book while sipping a strawberry green tea concoction that was a refreshing counterpoint to the humidity and cigarette smoke and rushing.
I made my way home eventually, ignoring the creep on the train who asked me if I wanted a lollipop while staring at my tits, and walking the three quarters of a mile from the station to my apartment, slowly, as the sun set. I made dinner and ate while reading, then grabbed my guitar and held on to my hair as the music started pouring out of me.
I went to bed late, and woke up early, and went straight for the guitar and the notebook. I still liked what I'd written the night before, and was excited to tweak it a bit and run through it over and over until it felt right. I stopped to eat breakfast and get back to Sweeney Cassidy's story. I read all day, in between bursts of cleaning and unpacking and internet-ing and a walk around the neighborhood in the sunshine and a long phone call with my sister. After dinner, I fell asleep in front of the third Mummy movie, only to wake up later and rework an old set of lyrics from a notebook I unpacked earlier in the day.
I finished the book early this morning. After, I did some more housework and finished painting the den. I had a long conversation with my dad about politics and religion and overpopulation and genetic destiny and how much he doesn't like San Antonio. I made myself coffee and pancakes with lingonberries, and took an afternoon nap after fiddling with some more lyrics. I pulled off the painter's tape in the den and started pulling out stuff to hang on the walls.
Now I'm sitting on my couch in front of the open windows in my living room. Someone in my neighborhood is grilling steaks, and the smell of hot charcoal and seasoned beef is blowing in every now and then. It's cool, and twilit, and the sounds of traffic on the street outside don't bother me anymore. As I'm sitting here typing this up, there's a feeling in my gut like I've taken a breath for the first time in a long time, as if some tension I didn't even know I was holding has been released. I feel....content?
I'm not saying there isn't angst and whatnot still going on, for there surely is. I'm not saying that I'll be able to hold onto it, but for this moment, I just want to keep breathing deeply, keep feeling this satisfaction. I want to remember this peacefulness, this pleasure in the mundane details of a quiet weekend spent alone, at home. I haven't done anything spectacular or even particularly noteworthy....just eaten and slept and cleaned and read and made music. It still feels like an accomplishment to me.
When I was a little kid, Howard Carter was my hero. I aspired to do what he had done - make some revolutionary discovery, do something sensational that would change the world and put my name in history books. I wanted to be special like that, Destined For Greatness or something. It's not that there isn't part of me that still aspires to greatness, or holds out the possibility that maybe someday I might find myself a historical footnote.....it's more that the older I get, the more I believe that that kind of "greatness" has less to do with hard work or brilliance, and more to do with circumstantial advantages and pure chance. The kind of greatness I can count on is the kind I felt this weekend - the satisfaction of everyday tasks completed, of a comfortable home (or working towards one), of creative expression and good food and books and rest and sunshine. (And yes, I recognize how much that kind of greatness is tied to circumstantial advantages and pure chance, too, but that is a ramble for another time.)
Maybe it's complacent or even lazy...but honestly? It feels as close to happiness as I've been in awhile, and that's a nice enough feeling that I don't really give a damn.