Friday, December 14, 2012
At dawn I drove the girls to school through a landscape covered in thick white frost. Everything still and glistening. The grass here remains green, and the kudzu, and there are green leaves on two trees in my backyard. It is a strange December. I don't know this place where I am. The bare winter woods, the mild afternoons, the humidity gathered every morning on my windows. I feel dull about Christmas and don't know what to blame--my total lack of shopping, our new home here in the semi-south, an artistic holdout between the deeper dixies of Georgia below and Virginia above. I haven't seen my husband since approximately December 5th and I miss him, and I'm so proud of him, and I'm just floating along. Brevard suffers a depressing lack of Christmas lights, almost nobody has bothered. Myself included. It had occurred to me the night before, as I sat ensconced in a knit blanket before my two lit trees and the Christmas special of Downton Abbey, that it's up to me to create Christmas this year, for the first time in my life. I can't arrive at my mother's or sister's house and find Christmas achieved (and it is an achievement, women know this) as I always have in the past. I have to achieve it myself. I dropped the girls at school and drove home as the sun hit the frosted hills around me, a dazzling winter white glittering in the near distance. It felt good to breath in the cold air. Inside, I sat by the living room window and watched the sun illumine spider webs still spinning in the trees and I thought about rib roasts and wine cakes and wondered what the hell I was going to do.
Then, distraction: a youtube video of Jimmy Fallon brings back a memory of summer. It was July, we were moving across the country. I was in the van with my children, alone with them as I would be for the next two months. We had stopped for gas in Overland Park, Kansas. Carly Rae Jeppsen was playing on the radio, it was our first day of driving. Evening was coming on, we were already road weary, we were shooting through the Midwest in search of St. Louis, in search of a new home. I was happy as I always am in a car headed somewhere new. Before I knew all the wonderful things Brevard held waiting for us, before I started saying "girl" and "y'all" and "for a hot minute" like a loathsome poseur, the maps app on my phone took us on a detour through a neighborhood and we rolled all the windows down and danced in our seats. It was free slurpee day at the 7-11 we gassed up at and we sucked down our circus-colored drinks and smiled as the snowy sugar soothed our aching bones. We rounded a corner and a hideous bug, a flying spider with a lobster shell, shot through the open window and Ayla began to scream. iPhone, Slurpee, steering wheel--which to release? "Kill it, Indy! Kill it! Take off your shoe and kill it!" I yelled. Screaming, Indy did. This girl who tells me she isn't brave beat the monster to death with the back of her sparkly jelly. The colossal skies of the west were still above me. It is amazing how much your life can change and still be exactly the same. In minutes we were back on the highway, speeding east across a curved and welcoming land. Before you came into my life I missed you so bad, I missed you so, so bad.