Sunday, March 6, 2011

Joy (and A Video of My Son Dancing)

One of my best friends from college died on Friday.
To combat the sadness, I’ve been thinking about joy and what brings it to me.  Small things, it turns out.

--The first gulp of lemonade on a really hot day;

--Sitting on the front steps after my morning jog;

--Turning a cake out of a pan and feeling with my whole body that it slid out perfectly;

--A belly-laughing baby;

--Figuring out a plot problem in any novel I’m working on;

--Watching David Letterman with Robert;

--Getting a phone call and looking down and seeing that the last two digits of the incoming number are either “74” or “02”;

--Animals, especially dogs and chimps (and yes, I know chimps are nasty and vicious, but I don’t care);

--Shopping with Cara;

--The moment in a restaurant (especially with Robert) when the waiter brings the salad and I know that the whole meal is still ahead of me, to be anticipated, but I don’t have to be hungry anymore;

--Birds twittering (which I never used to care about at all—how is that possible?);

--Road trips;

-- Tom Waits’s “Heart Attack and Vine,” Johnny A’s “Oh, Yeah,” anything by Benny Goodman;

--Opening a brand new book;

--Watching my son dance.  Here is a video.  He’s the tall young man in the untucked blue shirt--#424—dancing with the woman wearing a black-and-white top on the right-hand side of the screen.  This is a jack-and-jill competition, which means they were randomly assigned to be partners.  He had never danced with her before.

Whatever joy I feel in watching him—which is considerable—is dwarfed by the joy he feels himself.  It is palpable in every move he makes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Little Old

Last weekend I drove down to L.A. to bring cookies to my thesis-writing daughter and a scratch cake to my son, recently bereft of wisdom teeth.   Daughter and I decided to bond over some retail therapy at an enormous mall in Glendale.  It was crowded and raining and I was tense, having already been in the car for six hours.

We entered a store, and immediately I noticed that the music on the loudspeaker was so loud that I had to shout to be heard.  “I hate it when the music is so loud!” I groused.  She said, “What?” and I said it again, yelling this time.  She laughed.  “You are such an old lady,” she said.

Something inside me snapped.  “You know what, Cara?” I said.  “I am an old lady!”  I felt incredible freedom—a sort of zinging inside my brain—as I said it.  I thought, Well, okay.  The secret’s out.
Except for one thing.  I was lying.  I am not old.
I know who Mumford and Sons are.  I can bench press half my weight.  I wear cool suede boots with brass studs.  I am, as I constantly remind my kids, adorable and hip.
I am the opposite of old.

As it happens, I am grouchy and curmudgeonly and a big complainer.  But it’s not because I’m old.  I’ve always been this way.

What I realized in the mall is that now I can chalk up all the weird things about myself—that I hate loud music in public places and camping and movies with car explosions and the way that nobody even cares about split infinitives anymore—to being old.
It’s completely fabulous, finally having an excuse.
While we were in the store with the loud music, I bought myself a filmy, float-y ecru-colored top patterned with figures of women in mid-20th-century hats and dresses.
I bought it because even though I know who Mumford and Sons are, I like to listen to Benny Goodman more.

Okay, maybe I’m a little old.