Sometimes you think if this were a movie, and sometimes this could be a movie, and sometimes is this a movie? It’s snowing lightly. The market has put out the holiday wreaths and balls of mistletoe and grave blankets to lay out before the first snow. Usually the music is Motown, which seems just right, but today it’s The Nutcracker, immediately recognizable and sort of a lot for produce, just a touch too seasonal or maybe poignant, vaguely menacing. Is it a dream?
Are you a Christmas person? Someone asks someone, an aisle over. Employees, I think. I don’t wait for the answer. I’m often like that. I’ve heard enough.
Also, I’m a little in love these days with how I make my way. The cart glides along; everything looks like an ingredient to me and that’s a happy feeling in my world
Currently, I’m in a gingerbread phase, but next I think I’ll make an apple cranberry cake. Baking is precise and often pretty; cooking, more improvisational; I like them both and lose myself that way, which is a life skill and I recommend it.
Going on two years since my father’s death, I think of him every day in many little ways and it makes me sad-happy, which is very lucky, I realize, and I cherish that too. I may feel differently someday, but death doesn’t scare me. Of course, suffering is the thing, but until it’s the only option, I try not to choose it.
At some points, it does seem to be the only option, of course, or maybe just the best one. I don’t like to think too hard about stories I’ve heard, but I do think in a very low-key way, well, ok, there’s Jesus.
It’s possible to think all this in a wispy not bothersome way and also choose a nice bag of clementines and think too that Christmas once meant you’d get an orange in your stocking. My mother tells that story and it’s one of my favorites. It fills me with longing-in-a-mostly-good-way because Christmas used to be a mix of brightness and austerity and it sounds preferable.
I’m often a little elsewhere like that—maybe you too?—but somehow it keeps me very here at the same time. Like having a dream in your very own bed. And dreams are for tidying up, aren’t they? I’ve heard that. Purposeful. Scary sometimes.
But also dreams can be dreamy, which is like taffy being pulled or maybe that ribbon candy that comes in a box and the color stretches out and you can taste it without really doing so, which maybe is the definition of anticipation and the opposite of dread.
Mary Ann Samyn’s most recent book is Air, Light, Dust, Shadow, Distance, winner of the 2017 42 Miles Press Prize. She teaches in the MFA program at West Virginia University.
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