This Little Life.

I am on a three-week break from school. Classes start again Monday, and I cannot wait. Three weeks felt like a really long time, but now that it is almost over, I am realizing it went quickly. I was able to catch up with some dear friends, do some work, read some books, and do some stuff around the house. It’s been a sweet time, but I am ready to jump back into school. In fact, I started reading my text book today just to get a glimpse at what we’ll be doing. I think it is going to be fun.

I felt a shift happen this break. I felt an inward retreat happen. I felt myself wanting more time at home, more quiet and fewer voices in my head. Maybe I turned inward because what is happening out there is too hard. Politics. World events. Hatred. I just cannot. Maybe I turned inward as sort of a mental preparation for a summer of Zoom classes. I am taking only one class, and it is entirely on Zoom, which will be different from the time we spent on campus this last semester. Maybe I turned inward because home feels especially sweet right now. I am not sure. But I am sure that I have made a turn inward. I am choosing home and books and Dave over almost everything else right now, and that feels right for me.

One effect of the turn inward is that I have been spending some unusual time in the kitchen. I should start by making clear that I am not a cook. I can bake. But I do not cook normally. But this week, I have cooked twice – once for me and my husband to share and once just for him. After thirty years of not cooking any meat, I actually cooked chicken for this man of mine, and the grin on his face was worth touching the chicken. I should also make clear that I did not actually touch the chicken. I used gloves. But still. It was weird. I did not wake up yesterday planning to cook chicken for him. The idea came to me while I was on the phone with one of my oldest friends. She fielded my questions. What’s the difference between breast and thigh? Should I cut off the visible fat? Is chicken broth the same thing as chicken stock? She is a good friend. At the end of it, Dave says he had a delicious dinner. I have no idea if it was good or if he was being sweet, but I sure did love his smile at the table.

While I was cooking, I listened to Jennifer Grey’s narration of her new memoir, Out of the Corner. I do not know whether I would have enjoyed reading the book, but I definitely enjoyed listening to it. She talks a lot about all of the chasing of things that she did and how much satisfaction she found in being a mom. There was a great deal in her story that I could not relate to at all, but what I could relate to felt soothing. Smallness. Simpleness. Near invisibility. She did not choose those things until they happened to her, and then she found deep joy in them. I feel like something similar is happening in my world.

As I look ahead at the next few days, I feel a fullness coming. I am not talking about the kind of fullness that sends me rushing from one thing to the next. I am talking about the fullness that comes from large swathes of time in small and cozy spaces with people who feel like home. That is my measure right now. From the weekend into the coming summer session, that is my measure for this little life of mine. I think it is going to be fun.

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