Being home for the holidays has been a fitful meditation of sorts. Time slows, the days oozing together like the last clump of Christmas toffee in the tin, each rotation of the sun a variation on a theme of nap, practice, eat, run, read. Childhood revisited.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is one of my favorites. Nothing too pressing ever happens in that week. No one ever remembers what they did during that week. For one blissful moment the retail hounds are called off their scent, weary from their months-long pursuit of The Consumer and there is a small but marked lull of "Buy this! And this! Also this!" activity in my inbox. (To be sure, the advertisements never fully stop. The hounds are ever vigilant, ever hungry.)
The relaxed pace of Midwestern suburbia is something I never truly appreciated until this year. Silence stretches for miles, a friendly silence speckled with murmurs of leaves being raked, a dog barking (often it's our dog), the cackling of Canadian geese rocking their airborne deep V. Even the highway, usually a constant source of stress for me and anyone else familiar with the DC beltway, is calm, the drivers far between and unhurried. Near-empty traffic lanes are not to be taken for granted. I know that now. Gliding down an all-but-deserted stretch of Hwy 40 (that's I-64 for you out-of-towners) can elicit a state of zen in even the least monastically-inclined.
In three days we will be on the other side of the new year and I will be back on the East Coast, morphing once more into an Adult with deadlines and obligations. Back to the future. Until then, I will continue to bask in my halcyon reverie, evenly splitting my time between James Wolcott, Franz Schubert, and my sister Lynn. If this week were being captured on Instagram, the filter would be sepia-toned.
The bleak midwinter sun casts muted light on gnarled, naked trees as I throw on sweatpants and head downstairs to greet the next set of variations on a theme of Home.