Every day I try to do one thing that makes me feel good. It cannot take a lot of time. A foot bath. A donation. Yesterday, I shredded another box-full of New York Rising and FEMA documents. It has joined three others outside our door, now sealed and ready to be brought to the curb. Four boxes! And I only shredded the excess: the copies of five different half-inch thick submissions I made myself because NYR lost everything I ever gave them; the copies of bank statements I made for FEMA that I also had to make for NYR and keep in separate, dated packets with notes on them so I knew exactly what I had submitted and at whose request and why; the emailed incorrect Awards and Award Clarifications showing me tens of thousands in Monopoly money right before Election Day when I was always going to get $0.
I’d said all along that if we only received $1,000 from New York Rising I would at least feel slightly compensated for the work hours it took to generate 4+ boxes plus half a file cabinet drawer-full of paperwork over a year and a half. But $1,000 is such small compensation for how tremendously insurance shorted us, that the satisfaction of shredding might have been worth more to me. It was, “Facial masque and sugar hand scrub—or document-shredding? Um, document shredding.”
Today I chose something a bit more traditional for my feel-good devotion. I decided to honor the bit of British in me by serving myself Elevenses. A few weeks ago, while teaching time to kindergarteners, this term flitted into my mind. Was this an actual word? Did it connotate extra food at an odd hour? This definitely sounds like something I would make up. But ooh. Must find out.
And sure enough—why didn’t I think of this?—Elevenses was an extra small meal, a light refreshment taken around the 11:00 hour, typically biscuits with tea or coffee. One Sunday, I promised myself, while Steve sleeps off his late night working, I will have to arrange this. It’s enough to make a day, and I need my days made. This week has been a whirlwind of schoolwork and cleaning and packing and loading and unloading. It’s for the greater good—moving home—but so little progress has been made at the house that I’m doing all this with the same uncertainty and anxiety with which I have done almost everything these past two years.
Yesterday I spent some time with friends from our restaurant, the one we lost in the storm. After celebrating their new venture here in Long Beach, of course with food, Jamie sent me off with some of her outrageous cookies (rosemary lemon, my all-time favorite food combination) and enthusiastically (large nods, big knowing smile) suggested I eat them with tea.
So today I took tea and cookies, and time to reflect, at precisely 11 am. I decorated the table with the daisies Steve brought me at work last week when I had to stay late for conferences on our only night off together. I happened to be burning the sample candle sent to me by the woman who made our candles for our wedding favors, and this inspired me to play “George Planxty Brabazon.” It’s an awful name for a beautiful piece, the one our friend Caroline played on her fiddle as I walked down our “aisle” over the dunes in Long Beach eleven (!!! Elevenses !!!) years ago. And I dunked the cookies baked by a friend who was part of our old Long Beach, and our transition (she got us this apartment!), and our new, slowly emerging Long Beach. We are almost home and we are more in love and our connections are stronger and we are so loved.
Just now I smelled something burning. I turned to look at the candle and the jar had caught fire. The plant as well. Like really on fire, taking swift action fire. This is how I now understand things to be. I can bring myself to a wonderful place. I can work hard to get there. It can feel the best it has in a long time. And then anything can happen, however hard I am trying. So I must stay light! It is heavy without my making it so. There are dangers whether or not I live like I know it. And there are wonders, whether or not I live like I know it.
So I may as well break for tea and cookies. That candle would have caught fire anyway. At least I had used it to do something new, to celebrate the wonderful in this wonderful life.
Now, back to schoolwork.
Elevenses! Who knew?