Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Changing arts...from losing to longing. Happy 2008!

This was the night that would have passed me by had Sally not been persistant in calling me (twice on my cell and once on my land line) to get me to go to a "Bellefield folks" NYE party. At around 7:30 pm I turned off the TV and closed my eyes. My alarm was set for 7:45 pm and I slept past it. As I use my cell phone as my alarm, I ignored Sally's two cell calls as I brushed them off as my alarm. "Just one more minute..."

She had an ulterior motive--I had purchased a Canasta game for her at Target and she was dying to play, as she'll be going to Florida in a week or so where she'll be up against family (sisters?). But I am grateful that at 11:06 pm she finally decided to call my land line and I sleepily answered. So I did not miss the ushering in of the new year.

It's 2 a.m. now, and I'm pretty awake, due to the fact that I slept from 7:30 to 11 pm and then just a half hour ago took the meds I generally take at 10:30 pm. So I'll write for a bit. It's lovely knowing that I have nowhere I need to be tomorrow. I may stop by and visit my friend PJ, who mentioned in her Christmas letter that she missed me "stopping by." (She's from the Midwest, where people do that all the time. I'm not from the Midwest, but I love the idea of stopping by, and she and her family are the only ones I would just stop by in on, except for of course, Sally's family.)

I had lunch at Sally's--leftover rotisserie chicken, veggies, and mac n'cheese. We had little Dove chocolates for dessert and her wrapper said on the inside "Always ask if it comes in chocolate." Mine was forgettable, hence, I have forgotten it.

I had a lovely chat with the host of the party, Bob, who has been hosting this party for over twenty years. His daughter is teaching in Guatemala right now, and since I have done some traveling in Guatemala from the years I lived in Honduras, we had places in common to talk about. He's not been to Europe, but I regaled him with tales of Vienna Summer School and Warsaw and Prague. We talked about learning languages...in short, it was one of the kinds of conversations I love having at parties. I have to remember that the town J. is living in is Chichicastenego, to tell my mother tomorrow. I didn't have a chance to talk to J. at all, but we hugged as I left the party around 1:15 am and I said, "see you this summer." For me it is strange that the young women that are now my peers at the OD are the grown up girls that were in high school ten years ago. I played Canasta with Sally, her daughter, and K. I will always remember a particular corner in my neighborhood as the corner where I ran into K. while she was waiting for the school bus for high school and I was taking an early morning walk.

It is a privelege to have fine friends. It truly is. I hope this year will be a deepening of friendships, as I decide where to be intentional.


The title of this post comes from a post that Heidi posted (yesterday! because it's Tuesday now!). She posted it from a post that Kate DiCamillo (author of Because of Winn Dixie) posted. Here is an excerpt from Kate's New Year's post:

When you tell a story, the world rushes by you in the same way, leaves you standing silent and alone, your face pressed up against a well-lit window, gazing at something, wanting it fiercely, knowing that you are probably not going to get it, but willing, anyway, to dream, to try.

I’ve decided that telling a story is more than anything else, the art of longing.

She goes on to talk about what someone once said about the trick to happiness: "you must have work to do, something to hope for, someone to love." She wishes these things for herself in 2008, and also for us, her readers. She closes with a beautiful image, the image that started her post, of pressing up against a window and becoming an eight year old again, wishing for the beautiful doll in the window, and all the lovely clothes for the doll. She hopes

...that you can stand, for a moment, on a cold street, in front of a lighted window, that you can put your hands up against the glass and let yourself hope and believe that there is, after all, a way in, a way to the other, beautiful, side.

When I came into the house tonight (this morning?), empty except for air, I walked the porch and wished and prayed beauty for this year. Not superstitiously, but asking God to bless all who cross our threshold. Asking God for good neighbors in the second floor apartment, which empty right now, holds so many memories for me from when EE Sally lived there, first as a single woman, then as a young bride, then as a young mom. I remember her son having baths in their kitchen sink. I remember dressing up in the bridesmaid dress we decided not to use, having a fun "photo shoot." (Where are those pictures now?) I remember when Sam Brunsvold was shot and Sally and I heard the answering machine click on three times through the floorboards of my apartment, the answering machine that was in their back room. None of us slept that night. And how my life was lived in that apartment, as her friend, as bridesmaid for her wedding, and yes, as we watched 9/11 unfold on the TV in her living room.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, the day that I came back to Pittsburgh, the Louise family got into the car and drove downtown to DC to the National Gallery of Art, where there was an Edward Hopper exhibit in the East Building. We had seen other Hopper exhibits, but this one was different, more of a complete retrospective of his work. I saw paintings I'd never seen before (Chop Suey) that became instant favorites. The last painting in the exhibit was of light in an empty room. It made me think of what this apartment looked like on the first day I saw it, when I fell in love with the skylight. And it made me think about that day, somewhere into the future, when I will say goodbye to this garret, this place that has been my home for over a decade. That someday it will be an empty white room with only sunlight on the walls.

A lot would have to change for me to leave this place, my rent is ridiculously low and seemingly rent controlled as I am paying the same rate I paid when I moved in in 1995. But the Hopper painting made me think that yes, someday I will leave this house. Someday I will move on. And there is a longing there--a longing for my own home, something not rented, but also a longing that I will forever remember this apartment, where I have become a young lady, a grown woman.

As I look forward to 2008, I wonder what parties will happen under this roof, who I will entertain, who I will feed. Will there be another man to kiss on my sofa? (Although I've decided already that this WILL BE the summer of a new sofa, that if I don't have one by summer, I will get rid of the old one and put my bed in this back room until I get a new sofa to replace the one that came with me to this apartment, lo, in 1995.) (I live in the back room come summers--the sunlight is too strong through the skylight too early in the morning and it is cheaper to mainly cool this room, which is smaller and darker.) (I live in the front room come winter, it is colder, but I get more sunlight.)

I had dinner with a friend tonight. It was such a delight to get a text message--I get them so rarely--and to be thought of. We ate at Whole Foods. It was a good way to begin the ushering in of this new year. After we ate, we walked over to Walgreens and then went our separate ways.

I know we all put so many hopes on a new passage of time, maybe this year will be the year...but I really do feel a surge of hope. I pray that that surge will stay with me, and that I can come back to this night in my memory when I feel downcast. There's nothing like standing outside at midnight with people you've known forever and popping loud noisemakers into the air.

A dear bloggy friend, Erin, turns 40 this year. She has decided to do 40 things, and I may think of 37 things to celebrate (ack) that I'll be turning this year. I'll keep you posted.



wilsonian said...

37 things, absolutely! You've already started your list by the sounds of it... a new couch is as good a place as any :)

Hope floats, luv.

KitchenKiki said...

Happy New Year.
I think one of your 37 things should be to come out east to the Kikidom for a day or 2!


Sarah Louise said...

Erin, thanks for your lovely comment.

Kiki, I think you have a lovely idea!! YES!!