My daughter comes in the house tonight and says, “The world smells of rain.”
I put the enchiladas in the oven and walk out in a warm drizzle. The darkness already lies impenetrably. By a scant light from the neighbors’ house, I head into the woods behind our house and then walk by feel and memory, knowing where the blackberry canes meet the white pines. There’s months ahead of the darkness to come; I need to step into it again, know it fully not as foe.
As I head through the back side streets into the village, I think of this deep darkness like drinking. How I feared for so long even the scent of liquor. Now, sober for so many years, I’ve been to countless bars with my brother the brewery owner, hung out with him in good times and terrible, and what’s in his glass or his hand seems nothing to me. Then, this: just recently, a horrific thing happened to someone I know slightly, an occurrence he did not cause and tried, in fact, very hard to prevent. When I learned of what happened, I sensed the tsunami of suffering that would wash through this man’s life. The utter enigma and apparent injustice of the world.
At home, that evening, I leaned against our house’s clapboards, let the cold breeze tug my hair into my eyelashes. I was alone that night, and I remembered, again, what I sought for so many years in the darkness of drinking, my own private little story in such a multifaceted universe. Crucible, I thought. I am a crucible.
Returning to our house tonight savory with dinner, bright with the little lights my daughter hung up in the kitchen, I flung open my bedroom window and let the warm rain blow in. The million mysteries and more of this world.
…. And last, I’ve been graciously invited to the Rockingham Free Public Library, Rockingham, Vermont, this Tuesday, November 15, 6 p.m. Come if you’re in town.