A strange dawning today, my friend. About a foot of snow fell on Thursday, that wet, heavy snow that lingers long. Everything this morning is flocked, quite christmassy. Plus, our neighboring town of Palmer Lake lit their “star” yesterday—a grand astralation of bright bulbs on the side of Sundance Mountain which you can see for miles. It typically shines over the Christmas and New Year holiday season, July 4th too, but they made an exception as folks around here need some visual bolsterings of hope right now. So, sitting at the kitchen table looking outside as Saturday gets started, my heart feels like it’s Christmas. Oh, and all the kids being home almost seals the deal. Except in my brain I know it’s not Christmas. It’s not.
I shoveled that wet, heavy snow from the driveway yesterday. My neighbor, Bruce, walked by on his way to help another neighbor (single mom) shovel. Bruce is a good guy, a fireman, tough, no b.s. sorta character. I’ve always liked him, and we’ve always got along well. We talked for a few minutes and he told of men he knows stockpiling guns and ammo for when this all breaks down and they need to defend themselves or hold me up at gunpoint while they steal my toilet paper and ground beef. As I said, Bruce is no bullshit, he was stone-face serious when he said that. Then he said, “John, I’m scared.”
Yeah, it’s not Christmas. It’s March in ‘Merica, and I fear we’re still on the front end of this, this whatever this is.
If we make it through today and tomorrow comes, well, I’ll officially be 53yrs old. Gotta tell you, pal, it’s disorienting to type the number 53. How’d I’d get here so fast? I swear. My top-drawer children pooled their money and presented me with an early birthday present—a subscription to The Paris Review. How’d I get such stellar kids? I swear. Months ago now I tried to read the interview with James Salter and got short-sheeted with the “want to read further? then subscribe” message. Yesterday I stretched long my mental legs and read the entire glorious piece. Man, what a feeling. I’m now on the hunt for, in addition to toilet paper and ground beef, a used-but-in-good-condition copy of Light Years.
I’ve read that the notion behind Light Years came from a remark by Jean Renoir.
“The only things that are important in life are the things you remember.” Yes, I like that idea. I came across it after I was working on the book. But no matter, it authenticated something I felt. I wanted to compose a book of those things that one remembers in life.
I share a birthday with Abbey, so tomorrow she’ll officially be 18yrs old. I swear. We’re trying to figure out how best to celebrate. I found one box of brownie mix at the store, no lie, one left on the shelf. Peppermint-chocolate flavor which, let’s face it, tastes like Christmas. Maybe Abbey will look back on all this, this whatever this is, and remember her 18th birthday party, a day spent solely with her family in the glow of flocky snow and the Palmer Lake star, a birthday that felt like Christmas, even though it wasn’t. But it felt like it, and that’s important. Maybe she’ll remember. I know I will.