It's past solstice, the days are getting longer, and I feel like I've turned a corner this past year. My mind turns constantly toward thoughts of the future - particularly my planned move back to Oregon (at long last!) but also my future more generally. Where will I be? What will I be doing? Who will be a part of my life?
Right now I'm sitting on the overstuffed leather couch in my living room. It was a housewarming gift from my good friend B when I first moved into this apartment in September of 2010. It's also my bed. Bunny has the bed in the bedroom, and (mostly) the room itself; she's with me about half the week, and spends the rest of her time with her mom a few blocks away.
Against the opposite wall sits my Oxford English Dictionary across the tops of two small bookcases (the volumes are too tall to fit on the lower shelves), and on the other side of the TV are my Encyclopaedia Britannica and the rest of my books. The Britannica is the 1973 edition, which my family proudly purchased new when I was in grade school. I still use it - and the much newer OED - regularly.
The vintage clock I inherited from my parents still sits atop my tall bookcase. It's silent now just because I needed a break from the ticking and the chimes - I'm very fond of the clock but it is quite loud, and silence is a rare and precious commodity for me. Plus, I sleep in the same room with it, and I need my sleep.
The smells from my kitchen are frozen enchiladas, canned tuna, pasta, and burner spill, but mostly burner spill. At least the place is somewhat clean - last week I broke down and shelled out for a housecleaning service. It was well worth it - unless you're an especially zealous housekeeper, there's always going to be that stain you keep overlooking. And after it's been there long enough, you don't see it anymore.
TNG just stopped by to collect his allowance and say hi. I'm taking him to see 'The Hobbit' tomorrow. He's now 17 years old - how did that happen? - and while I haven't seen as much of him as I would have liked, I'm pleased with the young man that he is becoming.
In just over a month, I'll be turning 50. It's now The Twenty-First Century; it is The Future. I am reminded of that magnificent passage from 'Doorways in the Sand' by Roger Zelazny:
"Back where I left them so many years ago," he went on. "I've a very peculiar feeling now-the thing I set out to analyze tonight. Did you ever look back at some moment in your past and have it suddenly grow so vivid that all the intervening years seemed brief, dreamlike, impersonal-the motions of a May afternoon surrendered to routine?"
"No," I said.
"One day, when you do, remember-the cognac," he said, and he took another sip and passed me the bottle. I had some more and returned it to him.
"They did actually creep, though, those thousands of days. Petty pace, and all that," he continued. "I know this intellectually, though something else is currently denying it. I am aware of it particularly, because I am especially conscious of the difference between that earlier time and this present. It was a cumulative thing, the change. Space travel, cities under the sea, the advances in medicine-even our first contact with the aliens-all of these things occurred at different times and everything else seemed unchanged when they did. Petty pace. Life pretty much the same but for this one new thing. Then another, at another time. Then another. No massive revolution. An incremental process is what it was. Then suddenly a man is ready to retire, and this gives rise to reflection. He looks back, back to Cambridge, where a young man is climbing a building. He sees those stars. He feels the texture of that roof. Everything that follows is a blur, a kaleidoscopic monochrome. He is here and he is there. Everything else is unreal. But they are two different worlds, Fred-two completely different worlds-and he didn't really see it happen, never actually caught either one in the act of going or coming. And that is the feeling that accompanies me tonight."
"Is it a good feeling or a bad one?" I said.
"I don't really know. I haven't worked up an emotion to go with it yet."
And that's the kind of mood I'm in tonight.
For those who are celebrating, merry Christmas. For the rest, happy Chinese food day.