Category archives for human beings
I feel a little justified or vindicated in my hobbies ’cause both my grandfathers are serious amateur photographers. It’s in my blood: trees, photographs, and cities. Last time I was in Texas, I took this picture from the pile of things to trash. My mother’s father took it, at Puget Sound in the fifties or sixties or seventies. It’s so strange: Seattle is somewhere I go and love now, and I never pictured him there, but it looks exactly like a picture I’d take.
When I got home this summer, that watercolor was on my pillow. “Oh, yes — ” my mother said, “that was at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago and I kept looking at it and thinking I knew where it was, and Stacy said, ‘that’s the Spanish Steps!’ So I decided to get it for you. I hope it’s okay.” She didn’t know I’d spent several nights and afternoons on the Steps, thinking and praying and watching. I love the Spagna metro escalator very much.
So those two prints sit by each other on my bookshelf and desk, tying up Houston and Rome and Seattle.
Today Sarah quoted Sheila Hati at me: all of these people, she summarized, are so different and so interesting but observing them doesn’t tell me how I should be, because all their characteristics fit them so perfectly, and they are them.
I am an amalgam, too; I’m not like you. From Philadelphia nominally, but I think of myself as Texas and Minnesota and maybe Vancouver, and I am coffee in Austin and the green drives of Philadelphia and even bookstores in St. Louis and always the best at finding somewhere good to eat, drink, and read; and I am being, everywhere.
We’re a houseful of bloggers these days, me and Sarah and Hannah bedding among nurses and other artists in one house. The two of them both have much more seen and to say than me. I’m in awe of them . . .
Last night, Sarah checked in on me in my room. I was sitting on the top of a bunk-bed frame, staring at nothing with my computer and a tall plastic mug of tea and a half-drunk beer and a pile of papers arrayed around me. Our mattresses were on the floor blocking the door, where they’ve been for the past two weeks because the bed’s so creaky. Startled by the scene, she asked how I was. I tried to answer, speaking very slowly, but I sobbed through my words anyway. And so she collapsed onto my mattress to look at me as I wiped my eyes raw.
It has been a perfectly all-right semester, but I’ve been pretty terrible throughout it. This fall, the depression had reappeared, incited by a rough summer. It chained me to my bed and in my empty head. I didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything, or see almost anyone. I was unkind and selfish and rude to the people I did see, fighting over whatever I could. It’s difficult to reach the end of the semester now and be so so sorry and so regretful and not know at all how or whether anything can be fixed.
Sarah talked, awhile. So well; so kindly. Later that evening she sent me a song to hear and read, and I thought of the Prodigal Son and all that meant to me and still does. It means a lot. Things will be okay.
I think coming up on Christmas is a good place to be; it will be a good several final days of Advent to think before the holiday once I get out of school. Things might, in the spring, be more okay then; will be more okay than I think.
I would say, for the moment, that community, at least community larger than the immediate family, consists very largely of imaginative love for people we do not know or whom we know very slightly.
Marilynne Robinson in “Imagination and Community,” as quoted
Last year I made a list of
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT COLLEGE
8am meetings that seem TOO EARLY
calling someone to come over RIGHT NOW
walking home from someone’s house at 3am
using words like “cray” in emails scheduling meetings
talking about laundry
not having eaten/weird meals
when everyone wears weird/unacceptable club/team/group clothing
when everyone sees the same shows
family replacement dinners
missing school over break
joyful reunions at the end of long weekends or one-week-long breaks
finals weeks fall and spring
when people bring you coffee
all the books ever at your library
people who like to read
people who are smarter thank you know/think/than they seem