"The light is so rich outside," I said to Helen last night as we pulled down the blinds in the front room. "Don't you think the light is so rich?"
She just kind of nodded at me, preoccupied. The blinds are a technical challenge that don't really admit distractions like mom nattering on about the light. But really: it snowed yesterday during the night, after a day of heavy wind that threatened to keep my plane in the air, circling, bumpily, forever, while my house was down there, just right there, and I couldn't get to it; and as night fell, the snow was this deep royal blue and the trees and sidewalks and streets were almost violet. The lights on behind us in the house and superimposed over the deep blue snow were a homey yellow brown and it was so calm and beautiful I wanted to stay in that light forever. However, there was dinner to make, and spelling tests to prepare for, and et cetera et cetera, and when I turned around again it was night and everything outside was invisible.
So: it is good to be home. The kids really missed me this time, especially Silas, which caught me by pleasant surprise. Sometime I think he doesn't really miss anything except his Wii, during those long, long hours he is forced to be at school or asleep, and indeed, one of the stories he was anxious to share when I came to say goodnight was how he rented Modern Warfare Three from the Redbox at King Soopers (ye gods--really, must we go there? Modern Warfare? Isn't that for 16-year-olds?). It's been nice these first few days home to be not rushed, too, so I haven't been snappish at all. That part has been so nice that it's made me wonder if snappishness is something I could actually give up, like, for good. I mean, it's not like it accomplishes anything, and it's not like being rushed as a state of being is really enhanced by also shrieking at people to get their teeth brushed, now, unless you want your teeth to fall out of your head. Hm.
The work trip went fine. I managed meetings and booth duty and sessions and socializing without undue melancholy; I ate some terrific food and went on long runs along the waterfront and tipped the maid appropriately (this is always something I agonize over). I saw the Gum Wall and had tea and crumpets and bought 3 pounds of smoked salmon at the Pike Street Mall. I kept up on typing my meeting notes and came away with a list of action items that was invigorating but not overwhelming. And I read a lot. I finished The Sense of an Ending (blew my mind, a little, although I still prefer Flaubert's Parrot and I'm not sure I ever really had the narrator's back, so to speak) and Heavenly Questions (this one did blow my mind and I'm still amazed that this little blue book can hold so much inside of it). I cried over the tsunami parts in Lives Other Than My Own but otherwise this assemblage of reading material was not as sad as I expected it to be. The essays in Pulphead (by, correction, John Jeremiah Sullivan) are fantastic and humbling--the first few are just good writing, plain and simple (or complex and delicious, David-Foster-Wallace-style, without the desperation), and then he gets into scholarship, for the love of god, and it turns out he's good at that, too, and it kind of makes you reassess your own talents and wonder why, exactly, you don't bring half this energy to your own work? Also, I really want to visit some Midwestern cave paintings, now. And listen to Robert Johnson.
And under all of it, real life. The sword of Damocles that hangs over us all. I'm not forgetting. I just don't like to talk about it.