A beautiful day

The color, serene; the feeling today, sad. (Pratt & Lambert “Chervil”)

My house is calm, dustless, serene. The breeze is blowing gently through the windows. The air from a fan I’ve put on the floor is swanning around my ankles, as the ceiling fan in the living room makes its lazy laps.

I am drinking water from the barest-blue glass, bubbles forming on the bottom, the rim a brighter cyan.

It’s beautiful here. And I made this beauty. Aqua walls, ivory carpet, small collections of this-and-that are here and there. I meander through my home adjusting them, freshly stirring the memories to which each item is attached.

I’ve written a to-do list, with nicely drawn open squares next to each, a hungry bird’s mouth waiting for the ‘X’. Today I am working, in an attempt to put the order inside my brain that I have arranged outside of it, in my house. It’s been two (three, four, seven?) weeks of being dragged sideways on the workhorse, reins out of my hands.

At home, I can put away the dishes, fold the towels, dust the glass shelves, recycle the newspapers, sweep up stray crumbs, pull my hair back into a pony, arrange the pillows, plump up the cushions.

But I am sad, and the order can’t fill it.

When I was a little girl, and the occasional chaos in my house overwhelmed me (my father’s rage or my mother’s sad presence when in the embrace of depression, her closest ally), I would run up the stairs to my bedroom and furiously put everything away: pull the clothes kicked under the bed out from under, sort into clean and dirty, file away in the hamper or the drawers. Then organize the soft, furry mice dolls on my shelves in their costumes: king and queen, tennis star, clown, chef, a Frenchie in a beret and stripes, dozens more. Then organize my books, by author or color or title, depending on the day.

All that done, I would feel cleansed, renewed, buoyed up. And so would fling myself onto my bed on my stomach, kick up my legs behind me, and write a story in my diary to my future self, where everything would be just as I wanted it. No angry parents, no mother struggling to make sense of her life, no worries. I drew pictures of who would I become.

I got the apartment right, in many ways. I curate my surroundings (as did my mother, in her inimitable, elegant way), to bring me peace, to bring me beauty, to do my best to wrap myself in my bedrock belief that the world is meant to be peaceful, beautiful.

But serenity can slip into sadness, as is happening today. And so I thought I’d write myself a note before I turn back to my hungry, empty boxes, to say out loud: This isn’t what I thought it would be. And I don’t like how I feel. And I am trying to live these shitty feelings out loud, rather than let them ricochet around inside me and do a different kind of damage.

If I can’t have comfort, order, certainty in life, at least I can build it in my home so that it’s what see around meā€”even on the days when it shows me how very far I am from a true sense of having found my way “home.”

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses: a divorce and house disaster that led to a book (Falling Apart In One Piece); a week after the book came out, my parents suddenly fell gravely ill, I resigned from my job (and, apparently, my career), my son went into crisis, my parents then rapidly died four weeks apart, and my boyfriend (who had moved in with me and my son just weeks before the book came out) began the painful journey of realizing we couldn't make our relationship work (that story unfolded on this blog). Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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6 Responses to A beautiful day

  1. Beth says:

    Stacy,
    We have never met but in many ways, I feel like I know you well. You write so beautifully and manage to say the things I seem not to be able to. I too feel so incredibly lost in my own life. At 41 and the mother of three beautiful boys, I should feel so much better than I do. Like you, I have lost someone very dear to me. My brother, my only sibling, to whom I was very close to, died a year and a half ago, very unexpectedly. It has rocked my family to it’s core and has made me wonder daily how I can go on without him in my life. He left behind myself, my parents, his wonderful wife, who at the time was 5 months pregnant with twins; their only children. What you write each and every time seems to be exactly how I feel that day. But I want you to know, it does somehow bring me a little comfort. I pray daily that somehow life will be brighter and make at least a little sense one day; I want you to know I pray that for you too. You are a very talented writer and it is so refreshing how honest you are. As each new day unfolds, I will hold out faith that you and I somehow will find just a sliver of peace .

    Take care,
    Beth

    • stacy says:

      Beth, thank you for your note and for your words. I’m so terribly sorry to hear about the loss in your own life. I started this blog because I wanted to find a quiet, well-lit space where I — and others, like you — could talk about the complicated truth that even when life is fine, many of us are carrying a weight in our being, whether put there by an incident or simply something left behind on the shoreline as we move through life. I ache for you and your brother’s wife and children. I know myself that watching how my son has been shaped by grief — first, of having an intact family (which he never witnessed, too young when my husband ended our marriage) and then later by my parents’ sudden deaths, and now by the way my boyfriend and I have had to separate to find our peace — is perhaps the heaviest burden I carry. But he is happy and joyful and full of light. And I am, too! On most days. But this is where I come when I feel most alone. So I can not feel so alone. Thank you for joining me in that sacred act of letting life be what it is, and accepting it and moving on with grace, as we must. Hugs to you. Please come visit and write about your brother anytime. Hugs and good wishes, SLM

  2. Lindsey says:

    Reading this gives me goosebumps (though I am not sure why I’m surprised): when my parents argued when I was a kid (which was a lot) I always went into the kitchen and washes dishes or put things away, or into my room and re-folded sweaters. It took me years and years to understand this behavior. I wish you calm and peace but only up until the place they slip into sadness (an image I love because it’s so right, so beautiful). xox

  3. ex1ibris says:

    Honey! This resonates, resonates…

    Words cannot say how much your book, read through twice now, empowered and balanced me. Love and more love to you. Keep looking to the sky. ~

  4. You’ve created a beautiful if painful word painting for us. These object-oriented ministrations seem as though they should soothe us and they do. And they don’t. But the busying ourselves. It’s something. It doesn’t fill the void, but action is better than inaction.

    Have you ever seen Woody Allen’s Interiors? Late 70s I think. Impressive film. Nothing like his others. I think you would appreciate it.

    Sending love.

  5. Rachel says:

    Very beautiful and poignant piece of writing. Sometimes all we can do to keep those blue days away is to escape in some way or another, whether by cleaning or writing or some other mechanism. As a kid I day-dreamed a lot, to escape the reality of my situation. My nose was always in a book, where I could escape to a different world.

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