Sunday, April 17, 2022

What I wanted

Yesterday morning was odd. Or rather... I was odd.

Dave had set off early in the car on an errand while I was still asleep: usually I like that kind of morning. I like to wake up to a quiet house with no need to speak. I feel free and my world seems spacious. And I usually like Saturdays because I feel as though I can do what I like and not answer to the Puritan who sits on my shoulder throughout the week, asking me if I am using my time profitably.

But yesterday Saturday felt wrong. Something felt missing, and I thought it might be family. Any family - Zoe and co, Isaac and co, the family member who declines to be named and the lovely Jaine. 

I read the news online and felt worse (surprise, surprise.)

I had breakfast in bed and stayed there reading a book. That was no help: it was about the first world war. 

I thought: This isn't what Saturday mornings are like. Saturday mornings in Boulder consist of the girls getting into bed with me, showing me funny cat videos, inviting me into their Minecraft worlds, and Isaac cooking breakfast while Wendy has a lie in. He cooks bacon on Saturdays when I'm there as a treat for me. Then we take the girls to their gym class and we watch them through the viewing window while doing the New York Times crossword together. That is my Saturday morning in Boulder, and that's what I wanted.


Cece and me playing Guess Who


In the early afternoon when I knew Isaac would be waking up, I texted him and said I missed them all and I missed their Saturday morning.

He texted back: it is a strange one this morning. both kids are at sleepovers elsewhere. first time ever.

So it turns out that what I was yearning for wasn't happening anyway. 

I tried to paint outside but the light was too bright and I wasn't in the mood. Eventually I gave myself a talking to, and did some gardening (the first time this year.) I sowed my cosmos and some more sweet peas. Dave had got back and we dug up an annoying and ungainly buddleia and planted something else to replace it. 

When we first moved here the garden was a solace and I sometimes spent all day working in it. It was good to be making a difference to something when I couldn't make a difference to other things in my life, and I couldn't change the awfulness out there in the world. Yesterday that awfulness got me down, but later, walking above the village before tea, I sat down in a field and looked at the view and counted my blessings. 

I'm feeling so bad about the news out there that I'm going to take a week off from it. I shall focus on enjoying tiny moments of happiness and being thankful.   

That book I bought in Boulder called Good Poems for Hard Times is excellent. On the back cover it says the book is “a buoy for people in ordinary trouble.” I think that's me.

Here is a poem I read in it yesterday that I enjoyed:

The Future

On the afternoon talk shows of America
the guests have suffered life's sorrows
long enough. All they require now
is the opportunity for closure,
to put the whole thing behind them
and get on with their lives. That their lives,
in fact, are getting on with them even
as they announce their requirement
is written on the faces of the younger ones
wrinkling their brows, and the skin
of their elders collecting just under their
set chins. It's not easy to escape the past,
but who wouldn't want to live in a future
where the worst has already happened
and Americans can finally relax after daring
to demand a different way? For the rest of us,
the future, barring variations, turns out
to be not so different from the present
where we have always lived—the same
struggle of wishes and losses, and hope,
that old lieutenant, picking us up
every so often to dust us off and adjust
our helmets. Adjustment, for that matter,
may be the one lesson hope has to give,
serving us best when we begin to find
what we didn't know we wanted in what
the future brings. Nobody would have asked
for the ice storm that takes down trees
and knocks the power out, leaving nothing
but two buckets of snow melting
on the wood stove and candlelight so weak,
the old man sitting at the kitchen table
can hardly see to play cards. Yet how else
but by the old woman's laughter
when he mistakes a jack for a queen
would he look at her face in the half-light as if
for the first time while the kitchen around them
and the very cards he holds in his hands
disappear? In the deep moment of his looking
and her looking back, there is no future,
only right now, all, anyway, each one of us
has ever had, and all the two of them,
sitting together in the dark among the cracked
notes of the snow thawing beside them
on the stove, right now will ever need.


Wesley McNair


"The Future" by Wesley McNair, from Talking in the Dark. © David R. Godine, 1998.

2 comments:

marmee said...

there is no future only right now : I think I should write that on the walls of every room in my house

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you. Xxx