I feel like a journalist reporting on wreckage and devastation unseen to casual observer. Like journalists before video cameras and webstreams, when they essentially had to be artists with the written word. How to capture the complexities and depth of a human experience... True to modern media, only the dramatic and emotional gets alot of coverage.
So here’s the “travel section” of the latest edition. Lighter fare. The weather here in Minnesota has been and stands to be dismal for several days. Cloudy, foggy, wet. The ground various shades of black, gray, and dirty brown with dwindling piles of “snirt” (aptly name snow+dirt. Thank you Sarah Lenz). Morale reducing to say the least. So Brad and I got a little spark to get ourselves out hiking in some sunshine. A couple quick calls to the pet-sitter and my folks, and we’re packing for a few days in Phoenix. Two hours later, on our way to the airport. 5 1/2 hours and 2 sore backsides later, we’re on our way back home. Though we were close to getting on the first flight, all flights were rather disastrous for stand-by passengers. Actually they were pretty disastrous for paying passengers, and not just to Phoenix! San Francisco, London, all kinds of flights were overbooked and significantly delayed for one reason or another. So we’re back home, smelly and in pajamas, to sloth through the next several days. Still, we’re proud of ourselves for trying - there’s a certain amount of gumption required to rev into that kind of action. Plus, we figure we were no worse ultimately in how we spent our time. Watching people at the airport is at least equally entertaining to watching TV. Often more so.
The “Book Review” section. Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imaginationis the book I want to write, already published. I give it 4 out of 4 stars. Take out France and the child she had after losing her first (at 41+ weeks), insert a few years of infertility and no foreseeable future children, and you’ve got my book. I’ll be quoting it often in subsequent entries. Here’s one to start: “I find myself thankful for large and small things, in the way of people who’ve lost two limbs and are glad not to have lost four.” She was thankful she and her husband could leave France and live along the sea for a few months. I am grateful Brad and I can both be home full-time together and not worry about being out on the street for the time being. She was thankful for the midwives that delivered her stillborn son. I am grateful for the labor and charge nurses that cried with us. The ones we will remember her birthday with in the years to come. She was “extraordinarily thankful” she got pregnant again so soon, with a successful and happy ending, and writes “I am not sure what sort of person I would be if that hadn’t happened.” I wonder what sort of person I will be, too.
I’ve been a big fan of memoirs for some time, and lately all the ones I reserve - even those reserved before December 15th - have some relevant element to our current situation. Death of a loved one (spouse, parent, childhood best friend, child) or ruminations on suicide (as an exploration, a foray into what plays into such a choice - don’t even freak out, everyone) or other such tragedies of the human experience and how people navigate. Joan Didion’s My Year of Magical Thinking, Deborah Copaken Kogan’s Between Here and April, and Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley are recent reads. Waiting With Gabriel by Amy Kuebelbeck is another one I will be picking up, a recommended read from some in our support group. Brad, bless his heart, has decided he wants to read An Exact Replica... since I identify with it so much...as evidenced by the 30+ post-it markers I’ve placed in the first 100 pages. There’s something akin to relief and proof of safety in his wanting to read it. Maybe it takes off the pressure a little to explain Me - let someone else do it for awhile.