Lately, I’ve been remembering Marie Howe’s gorgeous poem, “What the Living Do.” It begins with a clogged kitchen sink: not a romantic image, but familiar, ordinary. “This is the everyday we spoke of,” she writes. And then:
[...] We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
As I mulled these words, letting them remind me to pay more attention, to be more present in my own life, Ali Edwards issued an invitation in her brilliant weekly newsletter about creativity, for her readers to share posts documenting their “right now.” Not the highlights, necessarily, but the bits and bobs that make up “the everyday we spoke of.” The moments that compose our days.
I am growing to hate the question “How are you?”, since so often it only skims the surface, and the person on the receiving end is expected to reciprocate with a cheery “Good! How are you?” I much prefer the question “What is saving your life now?”, though it requires more time and energy than I sometimes have.
But this “right now” is a similar attempt to answer that question, to take a clear look at not only how I am, but what and where and who I am, at this season in my life.
Right now I am:
- drinking all my favorite autumn teas, including Boston (cranberry almond), vanilla, the aptly named Cranberry Autumn, and chai
- gathering early red leaves from the Common, and tucking them into envelopes to send to friends
- missing Shanna, who is building a new life in Atlanta but whose presence is much missed when we gather for church or a ladies’ coffee date
- spending a few minutes each morning and evening with E.B. White’s letters (a huge tome, but full of wit, wisdom and wonderful descriptions)
- savoring evenings cool enough for cardigans and tea, but still warm enough for cracked windows and bare feet
- reading Austen’s Emma for the first time, and delighting in the witty language and pitch-perfect characterization
- scribbling in my journal whenever I get the chance
- working on both my fall manifesto and 29 things before 30 list
- trying to get off the Internet by 10 pm so I can wind down and get more sleep
- knitting a red flapper-style hat worthy of Tuppence
- looking forward to book events at the Booksmith and the Harvard Book Store, and stacking up new novels to read
- visiting the farmer’s market for end-of-summer produce (tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, late raspberries)
- wearing leggings, a lot, and loving my new silver ballet flats
- enjoying the clear, golden light of September
- hitting the snooze button most mornings, and struggling to get out the door on time
- working to break that habit, as I know it will be harder to do when winter comes
- experimenting with new recipes, after falling into a cooking rut recently
- munching at least an apple a day, and planning to do more baking soon
- planning a trip to New York soon (Central Park, pastries in the Village, indie bookstores, and time with a dear friend and her new husband)
- reminding myself to be awake, to savor these moments, to lean into the middle of my time in this place, though it is often ordinary or confusing or uncertain
Where are you right now?