home alone

by bam

home alone

dispatch from 02139 (in which the only sounds around here are the ones le cat or moi decide to make…)

the soon-to-be ski boy is meandering up blue highways as i sit typing. he’s in the back seat of the shiny black chariot taking him to the mountain. stowe mountain, precisely. a good three-plus hours north and a tad west of here in quaint vermont.

he’s with the trusty driver, the tall bespectacled fellow we like to refer to these days as “the professor.”

the two of them, and a gaggle of niemans on ski patrol, are leaving behind these ivy-covered confines, for a weekend of — dear patron saint of glued-together bones, be merciful — shooshing down the mountain sides. the tall one won’t be imbibing — in skiing or apres-ski debauchery. his loosey-goosey vertebrae keep him from strapping on and whooshing anywhere, and his generally mild temperament keeps him from long-necked brews and whatever else might be stashed in someone’s traveling cocktail bar.

they’ll all be nestled for the next two nights inside a postcard-perfect inn. the sort of place misters currier and ives might have plucked for one of their easel moments, wherein upon spying the lovely white-clapboard country manse they would have firmly planted tripod with ledge, plopped up canvas, and dabbed away at pretty colors, till the whole tableau was tres fini.

which leaves me home. alone.

let’s rewind, and say that all over again for emphasis: home alone.

that’s me.

yes, indeedy.

for the first time in all these days and weeks and months, for the first time since landing in the whirl of 02139, i shall be sleeping under this roof with not a single someone to elbow me, or hiccup in my ear, or pad into the bedroom with a tummy ache near the midnight. save for the fat old cat, that is. (and since he’s taken to sprawling long and wide and weightily across my pillow in the deep of night, i can’t swear that this will be any sort of unencumbered slumber.)

i am rather dizzy at the notion. can barely decide just what to do. i hear the schlesinger library cooing my name, from over at radcliffe college, where julia childs’ cookery books and letters are squirreled away. and there’s that untouched gifty certificate for painted tootsie-toenails that’s been dozing on my desk for months now. and there is the most scrumptious stack of books that i can read willy-nilly and till the cows come home.

since i’m sans wheels till i pick up a rental sunday morn — when i head up to portland, maine, to visit with my mama, and the sweet new baby boy plus all his peoples —  i made sure i had the pantry stocked. and tonight i’m going out for unending conversation with a glorious longtime friend.

but more than anything, i shall use these holy hours to deep breathe, and let my braincells start and finish one whole thought. why, they might engage in hearty conversation, back and forth and all around, complete with synapse click-click-clicking.

it is so very necessary for some of us to wholly unplug from time to time. to marinate our hearts and souls in the blessed bath of all-alone time. to unfurl our tight-clenched worries. to go off the clock. unplug from every incoming outlet.

to simply be. and see if, somehow, amid the utter silence, we might rediscover our own outlines. sift through the sands of all that’s spilled since last we checked, pluck out the shiny baubles, toss away what weighs us down.

it is the tapestry of textures that makes a weaving beautiful. so, too, a life of variegation, with hustle-bustle hours interrupted by soothing spells of solitude.

i’m one of those creatures — like humpty-dumpty, i suppose — who’s inclined to put myself back together again. as needed.

but an essential ingredient in that equation is time to think aloud. time to shake off all expectations. time to grasp a passing thought, swoop it in my butterfly net, and pause to consider its pattern, paint-dabs, subtleties and intensities.

there are days, i swear, when i flop in bed at night, and can’t remember which sentence fragment belongs to which. not unlike folding laundry, perhaps, when fluffy bundle is hauled from tumble dry, and suddenly you find that you’re the shepherdess of a flock of mismatched socks, all mewing for their missing twins. where, oh where, could ever they be?

and so, i intend in these next 36 hours to stock up, drink in, amble, inhale, breathe — and exhale, too, i do suppose.

i understand how rare this is, and thus how sacred the chance to pluck and choose at whim. on no one’s measure but my own. oh, the riches! to keep the lamplight burning till the wee, wee hours, or whene’er my eyelids call it quits. to eat only when my tummy growls. and only what intrigues me. or, heck, to take a long walk after dark, if i’m so inclined.

for i have no one to answer to for one sweet short spell. and i know just the soul with whom i must catch up: the one i call my very own.

my reading list this weekend likely will begin and end with evelyn waugh’s “brideshead revisited” for dear professor wood (who twice weekly makes me swoon). i spent most of the past week devouring w.e.b. du bois’ “the souls of black folk,” (1903) wherein i found myself weeping over passages like this one i must share here (purely because i promised to share the best of what i trip upon here in this year of living sumptuously). du bois writes:

“Thus it is doubly difficult to write of this period [just post-Emancipation] calmly, so intense was the feeling, so mighty the human passions that swayed and blinded men. Amid it all, two figures ever stand to typify that day to coming ages,—the one, a gray-haired gentleman, whose fathers had quit themselves like men, whose sons lay in nameless graves; who bowed to the evil of slavery because its abolition threatened untold ill to all; who stood at last, in the evening of life, a blighted, ruined form, with hate in his eyes;—and the other, a form hovering dark and mother-like, her awful face black with the mists of centuries, had aforetime quailed at that white master’s command, had bent in love over the cradles of his sons and daughters, and closed in death the sunken eyes of his wife,—aye, too, at his behest had laid herself low to his lust, and borne a tawny man-child to the world, only to see her dark boy’s limbs scattered to the winds by midnight marauders riding after ‘cursed Niggers.’ These were the saddest sights of that woeful day…”

if you need a mighty read, “the souls of black folk” is a classic.

when you stumble upon 36 hours all to yourself, how do you line up the holy hours?