My heart is weak and unreliable. When I go it will be my heart. I try to burden it as little as possible. If something is going to have an impact, I direct it elsewhere. My gut for example, or my lungs, which might seize up for a moment but have never yet failed to take another breath. When I pass a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself, or I’m at the bus stop and some kids come up behind me and say, Who smells shit?—small daily humiliations—these I take, generally speaking, in my liver. Other damages I take in other places. The pancreas I reserve for being struck by all that’s been lost. It’s true that there’s so much, and the organ is so small. But. You would be surprised how much it can take, all I feel is a quick sharp pain and then it’s over.
The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
In classic overdramatic ladisonmee fashion, I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage these days as we encounter the disappointment and exhaustion that is house hunting as a non-millionaire in Arlington, Virginia.
I think—aside from the increasingly bifurcated market that only caters to sellers of old, crappy condos and then millionaire buyers, eh hem—our problem now is that we’ve simply seen too. many. places. It’s the classic ice cream store dilemma, where all I can think about is what flavors I’m missing out on, for having read too extensive a menu. All the flavors, all the toppings, all the (im)possibilities.
Sigh sigh, I know I know. Lucky dilemma to have. But oh how my heart has been shaped by this novaland—to desire million-dollar ice cream cones with only a small pancreas to take the brunt of all of the physical, visceral disappointment.
Things that happened unexpectedly over the course of this evening that were completely surprisingly life-giving:
- Getting into catch-up text conversations with people who live in Fredericksburg because google rerouted us through there away from the unending terribleness that is I-95. Feeling like I wish I could catch up with all these faraway people rather than wanting to avoid social obligations (the latter being my usual m.o., as of late).
- Eating bowls of takeaway jajangmyun around a mattress-bound JoQuy because my mom’s generosity rubbed off on me a little over this past weekend and because there have been so many little reminders to take advantage of difficulties, to fill out the hard corners of life with some extra grace. (re: Judith and her new baby. re: work exhaustion. re: noisy neighbors. etc. etc.)
- Exploding a bottle of kombucha all over the kitchen and cleaning up all the surfaces with Mark’s t-shirt. All the while laugh-crying at the absurdity of it all, just like the emoji.
- Admiring Mark’s resilience in the face of laundry and other post-weekend-away chores while I sat on the couch, overwhelmed and sucked down yet another Pinterest rabbit hole. Who says I’m the clean-freak-put-together one around here?
I dunno what it was about the magic combination of all these things this weekend and evening that made me feel a little more like my “usual jubilant self” (quote a la Mark) than the weakly, cranky old woman I’ve been feeling like I have become. Whatever it was, I’m grateful for the dose of resilience as our upstairs neighbors stomp around the bedroom above us and as yet another Monday looms nigh, all ~hello darkness my old friend~like.
My goodness, I thought. Poor fellow! You did not give this place a proper chance, but fled it recklessly, leaving behind forever the beautiful things of this world.
Forgoing eternally, sir, such things as, for example: two fresh-shorn lambs bleat in a new-mown field; four parallel blind-cast linear shadows creep across a sleeping tabby’s midday flank; down a bleached-slate roof and into a patch of wilting heather bounce nine gust-loosened acorns; up past a shaving fellow wafts the smell of a warming griddle (and early morning pot-clangs and kitchen-girl chatter); in a nearby harbor a mansion-sized schooner tilt to port, sent so by a flag-rippling, chime-inciting breeze that causes, in a port-side schoolyard, a chorus of childish squeals…
Lincoln in the Bardo, p. 140-141
…from kiddos and their adults running, playing, cheering in a sun-drenched field full of grass and soft breezes, soaking in a Saturday afternoon’s slice of perfect weather in the in-between spaces blurring spring and summertime.