The sun comes up and the sun goes down the same as it did before. Tomorrow is my 72nd birthday and although I should be grateful just to be alive, I am tired and let down. I want to start drinking and it’s not even 2:00 yet.
Our home on Lazy Oaks Circle in a small mobile home park in Paradise was supposed to be it. It was supposed to be the final chapter, the winter of our years where we putter and putz. Where I play with polymer clay and teach art classes at my leisure, where neighbors exchange recipes and bring over ripe peaches and homemade potato salad. A contentment fell over me there, as though life was giving me a big hug, saying you can breathe easy now.
Dream: Lying in a sarcophagus, arms crossed over my chest. I am bathed, oiled, and wrapped, in preparation for my journey into the other world. A most peaceful and comforting process, a complete surrender to what is and what will be.
Thanksgiving hits hard with the weight of what might have been and treasures lost.
It felt good to cry for the first time since the fire, to let the sadness leak out like a soft shower washing soot off my leaves.
We can’t find the Italian restaurant that is open for the holiday and end up driving through, of all places, the mall parking lot. A ledge of contained flames surrounding the outside patio of a place called Land & Ocean seems oddly inviting. At this point I really don’t care, so long as I can get a decent glass of wine and wind my way into a softer frame of mind.
A bouncy waitress with long blond hair tends the table next to the booth where we are seated. Please, I can’t take perky cheerleader right now. In steps our waiter, a young man, dark hair pulled up in a man-bun and short beard…like my grandson, I think. This old heart melts a little. He is bright and charming, catching every nuance of Sam’s dry humor, bouncing back with his own sharp wit. I melt a little more and laugh a little easier.
By the end of an exquisite dinner and delicious Zin, I am feeling almost like life could be good again.
“What is your name again,” I ask our waiter.
“Tim if you like the service, Brian if you don’t,” flipping his thumb at another waiter heading toward the kitchen. Brian shoots a conspiratorial smile our way.
“Lucky cat,” Tim says as he puts the last two pieces of seared ahi into a to-go box.
“Muffinhead is the glue that is holding us all together right now,” I tell him.
He gives me a questioning look and I tell him that we are refugees from the Camp Fire.
Dessert of Creme Brûlée is on the house, plus 25% off the entire bill.
I see so much kindness spilling from the eyes of strangers, compassion as if their own hearts are breaking. I soak it in like a dry sponge. Something new is blossoming in me that is hard to describe. The idea that we are all connected is something I have always believed, but I’m not sure that I truly felt it until now.
I am full now, absorbing anymore feels greedy and self-indulgent. Too the story is beginning to bore me, a sign that it is time to move on to the next phase.
Thank you for all of your good thoughts, prayers and loving support.