For you, the dress code is casual.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

So The Page Turns

I found myself thick in Potter's concluding antics last night. My legs tucked up under me, my stained glass 19th-century floor lamp shining down above me with my fleece blanket wrapped around my bottom half in the chilly mid-July's rainstorm-filled night. So fitting an eve for tales of wizards and witches and goblins, oh my.

I found myself feeling like I'd taken the weekend off to head down to Oregon. I have had a hard time remembering the last time reading felt so natural and relaxing as it did last night. It's been forever and a few years since I've really, really enjoyed a book, and that's not to say it's the books' fault. It was mine, for whatever reason. I've not been of a reading mind for far too long now, and I must confess that it has been my own little brand of hell, and not one I've much felt like sharing for consumption.

To be a writer and not a reader is to be something of a fraud.

In the weeks and months before my mother's death, I put a great deal of energy into being a better kind of daughter, a kind of daughter I could live with long after she'd met her maker and left my realm. The kind of daughter that might assauge the memory of the sometimes ungrateful youth I (and probably everybody else) had been at one time or another. Part of that role meant reading to her when she was at her worst.

...and then I stop being able to type. Wow. A moment lost in thought there. Hmm. Even now, some almost-eight-years later, I'm still completely floored when I remember the emotional hell I was in when I tried to keep my voice still and calm and reassuring while reading books aloud for mother's enjoyment... all the while, knowing I was dying inside because the person I loved and admired most in all the world, despite her infinite flaws, was literally in Death's hands. So trite and cliche sounding now, yet the emotions feel anything but.

To sit there and turn page after page of Paulo Coehlo and hold my cadence in this peaceful, mellow tone, I tell you, never have I faced a greater chore or completed a better lie. I'm glad I could do it, though. I know that she found peace in Coelho's work. It's probably the one author I'd like to read when I'm dying, too.

And, I don't know, I guess after that I just found reading to be a bit too introspective and commemorative of that not-so-great time of my life. For a long time I've had a hard time being THAT alone, I guess. Reading's just that way -- it emphasises solitude. Not necessarily always a good thing.

But I guess it's indicative of the fact that I'm starting to enjoy being with myself again that I should be enjoying reading for a change. I find that the transition toward being self-sustained and comfortable with enjoying life in general, regardless of whether you're solo or as part of a pair, can take a while after times of trouble and unrest.

And I've kind of come full circle after a few years of wading through some pretty unruly tides to try and find my new ground. I'm stable, I'm comfortable, I enjoy my daily challenges. I'm in a cool new place. It is, however, really unsettling to have to redefine one's values after what was essentially nearly a decade of trying to get to this point in my life: the point at which I feel like I wouldn't mind being in a holding pattern of this for two or three years. I have something, at long last, that I know I can commit to, while still having something I believe worth working toward.

I don't know how having a night of reading, a night of just being comfortably alone, wishing to be noplace else on this big earth, and general gratitude and peace with my present measures up on the cosmic timeline, but I'm betting there's some element of this past night that I'll remember for years to come.

An element on par with this time I stood atop a cliff in Oregon, taking in a vista of waves centring in on one small stretch of coast from what seemed an ocean that stretched for forever, kinda feeling like Howard Roark at the opening of The Fountainhead, right before I snapped the shutter on this shot I just re-hung upon my wall for the first time in half a decade last Wednesday. Or that time I sat on another cliff, a canyon wall in the Yukon, waiting on the light to change as midnight came and passed me by in the land of the Midnight Sun, where a sunset's honey-coloured world can linger for seven hours at a time, with a sun playing on a horizon all through the latenight hours.

There are moments we all live through that, for some wildly unique reason, are forever etched in who we are. I have a million of them crop up in a spell like this. Sitting on the shore in California, rooting for the lifeguard trying to save my brother's life as he and his boogie board were thrashed against the rock reef. Lying there with all the blood cut off in my arm and a doctor saws a growth off a bone, pondering how strange medicine is... hurting oneself in order to heal, while my mother's across town getting blasted with radiation against cancer.

Funny what makes a moment worth remembering. Sometimes it can be as simple as the warm fuzzies of tucking your toes up under you with a remarkably entertaining and fun read, and a world outside your windows full of wonder and greatness, but with nothing to offer against what you're doing right now all on your ownsome with your book.

True contentment comes so seldom that it does a body good to take that perma-Polaroid with the mind's eye. Mine comes by way of a blog posting or two, this one and yesterday's. What a fine, restorative weekend this has been after such a long month. It just couldn't have been a stitch better than it has been. Talk about something I've been needing. Whew.