So I began this blog post on Monday with the grand idea to continue it throughout the Christmas season. To list a few ordinary things I like. A few super-ordinary things that I don’t think about a lot. The idea was to pay attention. The idea was to pay homage to the messy abundance and poverty of our lives.
And then I experienced a vulnerability hangover coupled with the committee’s voices.
Did I really admit I was crying as I watched the news coverage of George H. W. Bush’s life? I’m a democrat, for God’s sake. Did I really believe anyone cared about the ordinary things I like? How frivolous could I be? And sentimental? And naive?
I don’t know if you do this–second guess yourself, your intentions, your focus, the way you breathe or walk or salt your beans. What I’m getting at, I think, is my rather 8th-grade desire to be seen as I want to be seen–fairly hip for a 50 something, politically savvy, generous, genuine, and unsentimental. The problem is that Bridgett doesn’t quite match up with this Bridgett sitting here at the computer.
This Bridgett isn’t all that cool. She’s ridiculously sentimental. Doesn’t know as much about politics, government, or history as she’d like to. Her ideas about right and wrong are pretty simple and often not all that nuanced. I’ll cop to generosity–I’m pretty generous. But mostly I fall short of that image I’d like to project.
So what happens is silence. And that brings me full circle. Because I’m determined not to let fear shut me up. I choose bravery–even if that bravery is just putting a few words on the page and being honest and being open to the fact that my truth isn’t necessarily yours. I will fall down. I will make mistakes. But I choose speaking. I choose writing. I choose art.
I’m reading a compelling book of essays by an incredible writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book is We Were Eight Years in Power. It’s a series of pieces written during the Obama years along with commentary as Coates looks back at each essay from this particular place in time. Coates writes about race and humanity and politics and love and writing and art. He gives me hope.
He writes: Art was not an after-school special. Art was not motivational speaking. Art was not sentimental. It had no responsibility to be hopeful or optimistic or make anyone feel better about the world. It must reflect the world in all its brutality and beauty, not in the hopes of changing it but in the mean and selfish desire to not be enrolled in its lie, to not be coopted by the television dreams, to not ignore the great crimes all around us.
Can I write into that tradition, with my sentimental heart? Can I write into that tradition with my lists, with my gratitude, with determination to be grateful? I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.
So with that in mind, I’m going to finish my list.
A Few More Things
Crunching. The crunch of my feet against brittle fallen leaves. The delicious crackle as the leaves give while I walk over them. The crunch of icy snow clinging to grass. The crisp crunch of popcorn or a folded Lay’s potato chip.
Crabgrass and clover without which I would have no green in my yard.
Mint candles burning on the kitchen counter, windows cold to the touch, a dollop of cottage cheese on almost everything.
Dancing. G’s naked dancing on SnapChat. L’s dance moves. Dancing with my husband when we are both a little drunk on wine or beer and the kids aren’t home.
Doting and daffodils and dandelions tenacious in all sorts of weather, growing up in cracks and in empty lots and in yards sprayed to keep them gone.