alternate lives

18 06 2011

I took both of these pictures on a morning walk during our brief stint on the North Shore of Oneida lake–a visit M’s own blog post has captured aptly and illustratively, so I’ll skip that step and let you chase down his depiction if you’re in the mood for more of that.

Morning light, through a perfect filter

For me, what else was so captivating, aside from the light through the greens (which is one of the biggest perks of any country lane anywhere–that and the fact that somehow, when you’re out there, you always find the time to walkthose lanes, which in the city you never seem to do), was the contemplation, walking through the deep woods of the fire-road, the meadows between its parallel depth and the rural highway, and the sides of those fast-tarmacked rolling roads where sign after sign vied for attention, claiming waterfront when it wasn’t–and when it was–exactly true, that it might actually be possible, especially with the lake that, or the meadow and the secretive laughter of the deep creek that ran behind it, to live out there, not nearly so far away as other people’s versions of “the country,” just 45 minutes from downtown or the suburban “centers” (i.e. the nearest Wegman’s). “It would be,” I acknowledged, “the end of having a take-away Indian ever again.” “True.” “But we could learn to make our own, if we bought the right spices.” “Also true!” And (although we’re still hoping–or at least pretending to hope–it doesn’t come to that, it would make for a shorter transactional-commute with the realnorth country where my step-son’s parents live and she’s still holed up with him during her halves of the weeks. “Imagine falling asleep to water-noises every single night. Just imagine.”

These logs were made for sawing

There’s a lot about the country that’s plumb crazy, of course (we learned where that expression came from today, in the visiting home inspector’s session in our how-to-buy-a-house class, mandatory for everyone begging for grants, whether our applications meets the standards or is deemed not to: lead poisoning), like the pervasive belief in the local grocery store’s that the smell of cold fry-grease is a good advertisement for impulsive purchases from the deli-slash-fish counter, or how they put giant tubs of “fluff” in the peanut butter aisle to be fed to children as a lunch staple. But some of the kinds of crazy one finds in the country are arty and liberating and beautiful, in ways that invite you to re-purpose whatever you want, too, because clearly ain’t nobody got a speck of room to talk about it. This self-explanatory gem is my favorite of this past week’s treasures.

In other lives I don’t actually lead, one of my very best friends got married today in sunny California (pictures on Facebook have already confirmed that the weather was perfect), and one of M’s best friends is getting married tonight in Cleveland (pictures on Facebook have already confirmed, anyway, that her dress is gorgeous), and we made at least seven versions of plans that took us, in our imaginary-perfect worlds, to one or sometimes both of those places in the same weekend, but in the life we actually live, we had to spend the day in a conference room watching the world’s longest, driest powerpoint presentation about process-details that might have been valuable three months earlier in the home-buying game but were all by this point either factoids we’d stumbled across by accidents or tricks it was too late to use to save us. also, the wee boy is with us (he spent the day with friends, so at least someone got to spend this nice June day playing in the perfect green and sunny weather), by legal requirement because tomorrow is Father’s Day, and for various logistical reasons bringing him along on either venture wouldn’t have worked anyway, so we’re at home, raising rattling ice-cubes in our everyday water glasses, which are full of tonic and gin this time, toasting years and years of good fortune and happiness to those we miss, missing the hell out of their perfect weather and gorgeous dresses, and plotting out the tiny domesticities of tomorrow’s quiet holiday.

Maybe we’ll invite them out to sample sugary New York wines next Autumn, and maybe they’ll come. Maybe we’ll buy a house on a lake some years from now, and then they’ll come, and bring their kids, and build bonfires by the water. Maybe we’ll have a postcard from Spain to hang on some new wall, and maybe it’ll be from France after all, instead. Maybe next year it’ll be postcards from St. Lucia, or books of poetry instead. Maybe we’ll just read about a lot of possibilities on the internet, and take quiet walks down our own new street, and paint new walls, and pack old boxes, and send wishes like pipe-smoke into the ether, for our loved ones’ happiness and for our own. And maybe we’ll do none of those things, and fall into an entirely different scheme instead, one we can’t even currently imagine. But part of the fun is in the possibilities, in how they’re all alternate possibilities from one another and from where we thought we’d be, in how a year-and-a-half ago, where we’d have thought we’d be a year-and-a-half from then looked nothing like this, and this life was only a dim glimmer of a far-off maybe.

Maybe we’ll send a postcard.

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