There’s a line in a Raymond Carver that describes a woman as a long tall drink of water. The line reminds me of my oldest daughter — a kind of welcome draught. Myself, I’m more like a splash in the face.
She and her friends are in their early twenties and have lived an amount of life that surprises me at times. At her age, I’d had a whole, full childhood and was drifting through young adulthood, through college and graduate school and what amounted to an awful of driving around the country and sleeping in the back of our Volkswagen Rabbit. I’d sandwiched in a number of jobs, but the economy was sparse in those days. The pre-internet world was slower, less fierce, less competitive. In the collective vocabulary, the words climate change, pandemic, trauma, were never bandied around.
So on these balmy, early autumn weekends, it’s a pleasure to see her strap the kayaks on her car and head off for a pond ringed by mountains. Summer in Vermont is always too short. But this year, in particular, has been especially brief. Maybe it’s where I am in my life, with my youngest about to fly from the proverbial nest. But the stresses of the pandemic — hardly just for me, but collectively — have worn profoundly into our world. A delayed car part on order seems something hardly worth considering. As a personal sanity strategy, these lovely, golden autumn days, I pause outside and listen to the cricketsongs, the ruffle of wind on leaves that aren’t long for this world.
One thing I wish I knew in my twenties is that happiness matters. At that age, I had a whole confused theory about happiness versus pleasure, saving my soul and the planet, writing and sacrifice, and a narrow view of good parenting. Silently, I think to myself, Take joy where you find it. Surely our world needs more laughter. And rowing your narrow boat makes you strong.
…. Last, Streetlight published an essay of mine today. Many thanks!