I skipped a week of writing here, and now everything is different, and also, nothing is different, which is a decent description of time passing.
A couple of weekends ago, Dave, Paul, and I went for a hike in the snow in Sedona, the only ones on the trail more or less; red rocks in the near distance, large wet flakes falling slowly onto our coats. The snow picked up as we walked, and we could see the flurries increasing, the slanting, wind-blown path of the storm, which looked very much to me like the snow in a particular level of Donkey Kong Country, which starts very slow and then gets heavier and heavier until you are playing in white-out conditions. When I was a kid, this was my favorite level. It didn’t snow much in Seattle, and this was the closest I got to feeling like I was walking into a blizzard. Hallucinatory, dream-like, ape-blizzard. I know this sounds ridiculous; it is not my most elegant metaphor.
But being ridiculous has never stopped an emotion from also being real. And on that hike, my memory of sitting in my childhood living room—watching my sister play video games, looking out the window at the wet grass, wishing it would snow; the light disappearing at 4:30pm in the winter, my body enervated by darkness and wishing for some magical intervention, which came, time and time again, on the video screen, as the wind blew the snow down harder—lifted the experience up from mere beauty into a dream, realized.
Some of my strongest memories from childhood are of mundane moments, in which my heart was striving towards something more. I remember eating instant rice, Top Ramen, and a sliced pear while sitting on the carpet, how I realized the flavor of the broth could elevate the plain white rice (slightly crunchy; I never did get instant rice right), and how that helped me understand that I could put ingredients together like a puzzle. I remember reading ghost stories after school (a soft, battered paperback book checked out from the school library a few hours earlier), on a day that had started off cloudy but was clearing up; I lay on the couch and refused to look at the half of the sky that was turning blue, because I wanted the atmosphere of the clouds: darkness, foreboding, the heavy hand of fall.
And really, how else could I learn to look for magic in the cracks of reality, except in ordinary, solitary moments? I needed a baseline to deviate from, a humming on top of which to hear the grace notes.
The election has happened, the winter is coming, we will not be going on any more trips (I swear, we wore masks, we stayed separate from other people, we were almost entirely alone, and we washed/sanitized our hands diligently), this one having slipped in under the wire just as we were being made to realize that the virus was surging. I need to buy us a turkey. I have ordered something called “half-dried apricots” and I am putting a lot of pressure on them to help me achieve momentary transcendence. I hope everyone else is also finding the snack food that they need to survive.