Has life become craaaaazy intense for you, too, lately?
Too much to do, not enough time. What to do? Finish one thing at a time.
I head to a favorite café to do some editing. Spirits are high on the streets of Paris tonight. Today was the first warm day of the year. Sky bright blue. First white blossoms on the tree behind l'église Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, always the first we see to bloom in spring. It seems to have come earlier this year.
On Boulevard Saint-Jacques, nine Spanish girls in short skirts, short shorts with tights, are arranged in a horseshoe shape, bending over, laughing and singing the Macarena. Haven’t seen that dance done since the late ‘90s, in Venice. I can’t pass Blvd. St.-Jacques without thinking of my sister Jane who lived on this street the year she studied at the Sorbonne.
A rare night when I have a whole section of the café to myself; everyone seems to be out celebrating Spring. It’s quiet. Easy to focus. Just me and the resident mouse, who scuttles out to say hello, then retreats to the darkness of the baseboards. I think of Apollo, one of whose names was Mouse.
Fuel: a fantastic cup of hot chocolate, dark, no sugar.
Three solid hours of work before a couple come in and sit right next to me (why!?), with at least 20 other tables vacant around us. They’re slightly drunk, jabbering away in French. I’m baffled by people’s odd sense of space.
But what am I complaining about? So many gifts lately! Two were recycled items, both radically elegant. A delicate, hollow, redwood bowl shaped by a friend of my brother and his wife, a piece out of the bar of a mid-century steakhouse that my brother’s green building company is reshaping into an adaptive reuse, mixed-use community center in Phoenix.
The other, a beautiful deep blue hard-bound edition of Balzac’s Eugénie Grandet in French, from a friend’s parents’ library in Seattle.
Shall we put Marley le Chat’s ashes in the redwood bowl? The opening is small enough that we could balance a marble on top to close it. It looks so handsome on our mantelpiece, now an altar for our beloveds who have died in the three years since we arrived here--Kimo Campbell, Jane Eliot, Uncle Bruce, Marley, Jane Kitchell. They are always with us; still here, still loved.
I begin the Balzac novel. Why is it so much more pleasurable to read this fine leather-bound volume? Is it because once upon a time books were better made? Is it because it’s a gift, and so embodies love?
Gifts, opportunities, responsibilities seem to be multiplying lately, a flood of things that must be attended to immediately.
I cannot possibly address them all in a timely fashion. Feeling full of inspiration and drive, but also exhausted.
Nothing that a week on a Greek beach couldn't cure.
Can I possibly do all that is challenging and inviting me now?
Somehow I will. I must!