A text awakened me at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. I did not recognize the number. The person wished me a “Merry Christmas”. I returned the sentiment without questioning the identity of the person. It could have been a wrong number, but I did not care.
My son still sleeps in the loft at the other end of Angel’s Haven. I smiled, remembering his earliest years when he would drag me from bed before dawn to see what Santa had brought. As he aged, he woke later and later. Eventually, the mother became the harbinger of bounty and so it has remained. I’m awake, thinking of coffee, of breakfast, of the drive we will later take to Windsor and the Alberts/Cox household.
Truth told: Behind these pleasant contemplations lurk darker images: The fading faces of absent friends and the winding promise of roads on which my feet no longer tread.
I move about the tiny house as quietly as that sleeping mouse of the famous poem. If one could hear every spoken word in the Holmes house, so much more clearly does each person’s motion echo here in these 313 square feet which I now occupy. I don’t mind taking care. My son will soon creak down the ladder. We will boil water for French press. He will sit on the step and I will take the chair. We’ll eye the packages beneath the little tree. We’ll talk in quiet tones.
These four days with Patrick have been a greater gift than anything he could wrap and place on Sheldon’s lovely fold-out table. Oh, sure — I’ve gotten on his nerves a bit. My character functions at a higher decibel than his peaceful composure. But we’ve stumbled through the few awkward moments. We found the quiet groove between us, as we always do.
We’ve accomplished quite a bit. He’s helped the handyman with the washer build-out and hung pictures. We talked of his dreams and, improbably, of mine. We spent yesterday walking in San Francisco, looking at buildings. We disagreed on the courtesy level of a Starbucks lady but overcame the impasse a few moments later when he gave our lunch leftovers to a man in tattered clothing. As we walked away, towards the subway entrance, the man leaned against a wall and opened the container, hunching his shoulders against the slight California cold.
I found myself overwhelmed. I staggered. Patrick turned, raising an eyebrow. So many hungry people, I gasped. I wish I could feed all of them. We stood, motionless, each lost in our own thoughts. I don’t know about Patrick but as for myself, joy overwhelmed me — Joy, tinged with an impossible sorrow.
I have little compared with many but much compared with many more. My resources have been quantified and will probably not expand. Yet the room around me shimmers with warmth for which I can afford to pay. My tiny refrigerator holds adequate nourishment. In twenty-one inches of hanging space, comfortable clothes hang. Two large drawers will yield other items to cover my body. Beside me, a bookcase made by my great-grandfather’s strong hands contains an assortment of solid reading with which I could pass any lonely night. When I move a silver handle, hot water flows into my under-mounted porcelain sink.
But more than all of these material trappings, I have joy. My only son flew across the country to spend a week with me. Down the road, a new friend included us in her first Delta bonfire gathering. Other folks opened their Christmas dinner to us on the strength of a friendship which has grown from a shared love of yoga and the California coast. A couple of thousand miles away, hearts hold mine in an eternal embrace.
My own heart overflows with joy. Here: Take your cup, and let some of my bounty fill it. Let my joy nourish you.
It’s the twenty-fifth day of the forty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.