Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday Afternoon

It is, as the title suggests, Sunday afternoon. She is at home, alone, on the bed, propped up on pillows, in pajamas, or some version thereof.

Outside, it is sunny and warm. The kind of Sunday in September that prompts people to say we should really get out of the house and enjoy the day.

She considers this for a moment, and then there is that guilt, that urgency about wasting the day that almost drives her outside. But after a moment, she reconsiders; these days she is reluctant to do anything b/c of what people say, even though she wants those same people to pay attention to what she's doing.

So she opts to stay inside, and listen to what's going on in her head. She writes a paragraph, pauses, and adds one sentence to the end of it. Then she erases the sentence and writes it over again, in a slightly different way. Then she erases that sentence, too, and does not replace it with anything else, b/c she realizes that more often than not, her first instinct was the correct instinct.

She used to write these things down in a notebook, in private. But she, like everyone else, has succumbed to the temptation of cell phones and the Internet and US Weekly and INSTANT GRATIFICATION, and even though this makes her hate herself a little bit, she does not feel validated unless she's sharing her thoughts as quickly as they're coming into her head, and self-reflexive is the new black and self-indulgent is the new self-reflexive, is it not? Either way, when she hits publish, she knows she will feel validated.

So maybe that was a roundabout way of saying that Blogger is the new black.


It is much later now, and she is still inside. She is not sick, or depressed, or hungover, or lazy.

At least, she is not more of any one of these things than the others, and it is none of these things which prevents her from pulling on her jeans and sneakers and descending the four flights of steps to the street and arriving, blinking, onto the sunshiny sidewalk.

Lately, life is what it is and though she started this online record more than a year ago in hopes of making some sort of statement, there really is no statement to make.

There is the morning walk to work, then there is work--all manner of flourescent lights and papers and paperclips and meetings and the blinking red light on the phone that means someone has left her a message. There is the evening walk home, and then there is home--and the safety and protection of such a small space in which her entire life is contained.

She knows that living in such a small space is not realistic in the long run, but it allows her to keep her eye on everything at once, and she likes that, because lately, as life spreads out and out and out, it's nice to know there's something she can keep track of.

So lately, there is just life, and there is the walk to and from work, and there is the comfort of home, and there are the weekends, free and golden and lazy if she wants them to be. And there is something new as well. Or not new, but something that she's noticing more and more and this is the simultaneous existence of happiness and grief: The death of a friend's father, and days later, the birth of another friend's daughter. The announcement of a marriage followed by the announcement of a divorce. The gain of one family, and the loss of another. Each week, via phone and email, she receives the news of each gain and each loss, and she gets out her pen and her notecards and she sends out the congratulations and the condolences and as she stamps and licks each envelope, as she writes down the names and addresses of the people she holds dear, she files each of their stories away in her heart, and she quietly waits her turn, because these stories are all of our stories at one time or another and there is happiness and there is sadness and we will all take our turns with them, won't we?

Lately, she finds no stunning revelations hidden in the mundane and no important lessons to impart, and who is she to impart them, anyway? There is only life, and the possiblity of a hundred Sunday afternoons, and how she chooses to spend them.