Usually I kind of try to block out the knowledge of how lucky I am, because in the moments when I’m fully aware, I’m just paralyzed by it. I have a warm and cozy home. I have three loving boys. I have a handsome, kind, devastatingly intelligent husband who has somehow been bespelled into thinking that I’m Venus risen from the foam. I did nothing to deserve everything that’s come to me, and there’s no way I can ever truly be worthy of it. And some part of my brain is always aware that my happy life is built on a foundation of fragile ice—one car accident, one malignant tumor, and we’d all be plunged into the dark and frigid fathomless depths.
I look at what at I have, and I’m grateful. I look at what could be, and I’m afraid. I light candles, I speak words of thanks, because fundamentally I know that I don’t deserve what I have, and at any moment it could all be taken away.
Maybe this is a darker New Year’s benediction than is customary, but it’s how I always feel as the year balances on its finest point. I understand the Aztec urge to sacrifice. The next face of the sun, the extension of blessing, how can it possibly come for free? But it does, or does not, regardless of what we offer up.
I’ll hold my breath. I’ll wish for life and light to continue. I’ll kiss the ones I love.
Happy New Year. I have been blessed, and I give you all what blessing I can.
I hope all of you are enjoying the holidays—we spent Christmas Day traveling, as the kids hadn’t been back to see Pops and Mo in Arkansas for several years, and the only remotely affordable plane tickets we could find were those that had us flying on Xmas. Plane travel with three small children is never fun, but I will say that it could have been much worse. And seeing the family was delightful! The boys love their uncles, and of course they love their Pops and Mo.
And I liked seeing Fayetteville again! Every time I get back for a visit it’s changed enormously, but some things are always the same.
I snapped this pic of my kids exploring one of my favorite sites in Fayetteville: the “Point 7” art installation in Wilson Park. (You can juuuuust see Robin and Davy poking their heads up over the wall.) I loved this little play area when I was a kid: it’s like a Maurice Sendak book brought to life. A castle with a moat and bridge, gargoyle faces, mosaic decorations—and everything twisted or mis-proportioned in a goblinish sort of way. If I ever have the kind of money that would allow me to become a great patroness of the arts, I’d like to bring the sculptor (Frank Williams) to Oakland and have him make something similar here.
Davy: “Are oranges healthy?”
Me: “You shouldn’t JUST eat oranges. But yes, they are good for you.”
Davy: “Is orange juice healthy?”
Me: “Not really! If you just squeeze the juice out, you get a lot of sugar and not as much of the stuff your body needs. Eating fruit keeps you healthy but too much juice is not good for your body.”
Robin: “Vegetables are healthy! And so is soup! And cookies are…?”
Robin: “Dad sometimes says bad words.”
Me: “Yes, sometimes.”
Me: “Hmm, I don’t know. Shoot?”
Robin: “No, not that one!”
Me: “Jiminy Christmas?”
Me: “Oh, then I don’t know which bad words you mean.”
Robin: “The bad word for poop!”
Me: “Oh, THAT one.”
Robin: “Which is…?”
Me: “I’m not going to say THAT! It’s a bad word!”
Davy: “Four is not a lot.”
Me: “Well, it depends on context. Like, in the context we’re talking about right now—which is the number of oranges you have already eaten, and whether I should give you another orange—four is kind of a lot.”
Davy: “No. One hundred million is a lot.”