There will come a point in time when I will look back at this year and mistake loneliness as peace, aimlessness as free time and neurotic self analysis as contemplation. It's inevitable.
After I figured out that I always sentimentalize the past, I determined that I would simply live in the present as though it were already gone. (This is along the lines of realizing that one will never be more attractive than one is right now, a line of thought that has justified many an unnecessary clothing purchase.) I don't always succeed in living in a prematurely cast nostalgia for the present; now is one of those times.
So I'm going to pretend to be somewhere else. Or some time else. Lately I've been fascinated by the late forties and early fifties. I see the old, old neighborhoods in this town, with the tiny little starter houses from that era and I imagine all those home makers, proud of their plot of grass, their piece of the side walk.
I imagine the brand new, pastel colored appliances; each one a prized possession and longed for for months and maybe years before they could be bought. I like to think of curtains moving in the open windows, curtains that the woman of the house actually washed and possibly ironed; in fact, she might have made them herself. She would routinely bake things that required cream of tartar, cornstarch, and tapioca pearls.
I think of her sitting at her Formica kitchen table with a cup of coffee. She drinks it black. It's a sunny day in a mid-western state; she wears sturdy two toned shoes. Even though she has the whole day in front of her, and the sunlight falling on the bright linoleum floor, she cannot move from her chair.
The thought of everything in front of her to do, her constant battle against the dust carried by the constant wind, the endless cycle of her days wears her down. It lies in wait for her; everything that she should do, that she must do. She hears nothing but the wind rushing through the cotton wood trees behind the house, where the canal runs by and the barking of a dog.
Maybe in the mail today a letter will come. She has them all in a hat box under the bed, hidden by the white tufted bedspread. She rises now, moved by impulse and walks into the bed room, gets on her knees and pulls out the box, sifts through the letters with her open hand. She cannot read them; she shoves them back and walks quickly through to the front door.
She can look out over the small front lawn and over the crest of the hill the neighborhood is on she can see the long, flat horizon, tawny colored in late summer, hazy with dust. The sky is so large it's almost oppressive. She simply steps through the door and starts walking, the wind whipping her thin cotton dress around her legs.
...and I'm too tired to figure out who she is and where she is going. But I empathize with her.
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