21, January, 2012          

            “And is the most hopeful word 
                 in the English language.”
                                        Sean O’Faolain

And this morning when we awoke, the snow was falling straight and small of flake, yet quietly insistent, as if to separate us from what came before.

And what did come before?

A thwarted Friday in the city, the city’s jagged energy determined to leave its mark before we left it. Awakening late, and late for a meeting. Trying to choose between shades of grey and beige on an empty stomach in a cold lobby. And then, stomach growling I eat breakfast 2 hours later than usual and the emptiness in my stomach growls of a conspiracy.

And then someone close to me calls. Cries quietly into my shouldered phone. The tears a necessary part of putting out the fire that is a necessary part of forging the self from the unformed messy lump of ore that we call our identity.

And then the printer refuses to print out a rough copy of our book, which we had hoped to hold in our laps, sitting side-by-side in front of the fire. The fire one of thousands burned in the great brick hearth of dear friends, whose house sits by a pond in the woods, where the snow is falling.

And the drive to the country takes two and a half ours instead of one and a half. Sloatsburg – a stultifying name if ever there was one – staged a 45 minute traffic jam for no apparent reason.

And now the snow has stopped, leaving us bereft. Of what? Abeyance from all of life’s disasters? Bereft, perhaps, of the possibility that nature will take care of all decisions for a couple of days, rendering us shamelessly incapable of forward movement, the car gloriously hidden beneath an impossible-to-clear- drift? The roads impassable. And, of course, plenty of food and wood. Snow, the great reprieve.

I’m reading Roger Rosenblatt’s second memoir since the death of his 38 year-old daughter. He spends the book in his kayak in hopes, perhaps, that the water will gradually wash away the stain of grief that has soaked into the entire fabric of his life.

And he writes: “Americans do not believe in death, which is why we are forever shocked by its intrusion.” 

And two things strike me about that sentence: the words “death” and “forever” appearing in such close and oppositional proximity; and the absence of “and”. Perhaps it is that absence that adds to the hopeless quality of the sentence. And surely the absence of the acceptance of “death” makes a mockery of being “forever” surprised by it.

And yesterday is gone, along with all its disappointment and petty annoyances. Today is still in progress, the fire burning steadily. There will be rack of lamb for dinner and perhaps a game of Bananagrams. And we’re told the snow will return while we sleep.

One thought on “AND

  1. Mark Kalan

    Oh Maggie, I hope that you’re doing better now. BTW – be careful when driving thru Sloatsburg. There’s always a speed trap on Route 17 right after the 35MPH sign when you enter town (not a problem during a traffic jam). Some time stop at Annie El’s and get a pie, they have a marvelous bakery but it is much easier to stop there on the way back to the city. Be well.


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