fussing

by bam

don’t fuss, the old line goes. please, don’t fuss.
it is the insistent plea from one who’s been invited to one who’s swinging wide the open door. it is, i’m certain, deeply meant. don’t go to trouble. break not your stride. it’s just a little visit, don’t mean to make you harried.
well, i am here to tell you that nothing in the world has me purring quite so contentedly as fussing for whoever is en route, coming ’round the mountain, heading my direction.
it is my deeply soothing feathering of the nest. it is clearing out the dust, making way for those you love, you miss, those who can’t get here fast enough.
if there is a single domestic art that lulls me into buddha bliss, it is this. pure, unabashed, whole-hog hospitality in the form of fussing. flitting here to there. atwitter. abuzz. delightedly so, i swear.
i found myself fussing the other afternoon. and i couldn’t have been humming more merrily. i was, i am tickled to report, going mad with clippers. seems i’ve gotten rather over my dread of bringing outside in. this season finds me snipping like a fiend.
i filled vases, jars and tiny vessels with all sorts of oddly matched bouquets. there were smelly chives tucked right beside bright and cheery mint. waning pansies, the perfect je ne sais quoi crouched beneath the listing spanish bluebells. a big fat fuchsia peony, the first one of the almost-summer, is squatting soundly in the middle of my kitchen table, ants and all. which, of course, my little one made sure to protest when he discovered a wee black crawling thing mountain-climbing up his pizza crust.
because my garden’s not yet full-tilt, i had to pluck some blooms from that flower patch that offers three stalks for four bucks just inside the swinging door of my local grocery store. i got the sweetest, smelliest rubrum lilies i could find. picked out the nasty burnt-orange fuzzy parts, the parts that stain every single thing they touch, from their middles, and left them to fill the house with their clouds of lily fumes.
i was fussing for my sweet beloved brother, the one from arizona. and the girl who’s fetched his heart. i was about to meet my newest will-be sister, and for a girl who never had one growing up, a sister is a sacred blessed trust. a sister is a thing to fuss for.
heck, i hauled out the vacuum. tried to shoosh away the dust that’s been collecting in the not-so-little piles as the builders once again take their hammers to a wall. i wasn’t really cooking, as a deep-dish pizza was the windy city thing they wanted. but still, there are ways to put out noshes that say you really care.
i imagine, yes i do, that more than one or two of you are fussers also. fussers stick together. fussers keep an eye on how it’s done, and then, like lint, forever follow suit.
i can tell you that to be fussed over is to be swept right onto heaven’s cobbled walkway. i close my eyes, i think of cheryl, who once lived miami way. cheryl, who graces public radio when not gracing me and hordes of others, mentioned once she’d love to write a book on hospitality. she already did, i tell you. she wrote the book.
the time of which i’m dreaming was in fact the first time i’d ever left my firstborn (never mind that he was 4 or 5). it was just one night, but he and i both cried. silly us. cheryl soon made me forget that i’d been torn.
i can, to this very day, still feel against my palm the finely threaded pillow case she’d left upon my bed—her bed, really, as she’d insisted on the couch. can taste the jalapeno kick in her gazpacho. can hear the jazz, syncopating off the walls in the sanctuary of a little church under swaying towering palms.
i remember feeling wrapped in her cocoon. all my cares i kicked off at the doormat, at her gentle unspoken invitation to do so. i was, for the 24 hours i spent under her wing, a woman drinking deeply of the milk of friendship. not a mother missing her only child.
it is that cocoon, and others like it, others of those in my life who know the art of leaving a basket at the bedside, a nosegay on the nightstand, a stack of puffy terry towels, that i set out to spin myself.
it is a busy harried world. our visits, all, are far too short and far too long between.
to fuss is to consecrate the time and place. to make holy the altar of our communion. to lift up the bread, the wine, that is our history together.
you do not come into my house, my heart, unwrapped.
i will fuss as merrily and mightily as the day is long, for you to know how deeply your presence lifts me from the merely worldly into some other sacred orbit, a sphere where truly dove-tailed souls shine softly on each other.
it is a sacramental thing, the blessed holy work of fussing.
to that i say, amen. and hallelujah.

a finer way to end the week i can’t imagine. a moment’s pause to ‘fess the stories of those who fuss with all their hearts and make us taste of heaven. you can tell one on yourself, if you have particular ways of feathering your nest for company. or you can tell of times you’ll not forget, the fussing fed you heart and soul so deeply….