Right now, I am here:
visiting my beloved mother-in-law and father-in-law and grandmother-in-law and…. whatever Uncle Charles is. The cousin, though practically a brother, to my father-in-law, who has no actual nieces or nephews of his own because he has no siblings, and who everyone calls “uncle”. Leo adores him.
I’ve been worn out by the holidays this year. Worn out and used up. I feel like the hideous mother in that horrible book by Franzen (and, pardon my french, but I fucking hate Franzen) (maybe I’m being unkind) (but, jesus, that book makes me want to gouge out my teeth with a rusty spoon) (though I’m sure his family thinks he’s very nice, so who am I to judge, really?) (she said, judgily).
Anyway, that mother? In that goddamn book? I was her. And it was killing me.
We are in Florida right now, and it’s been pretty great so far. No political fights (a miracle!). No tense silences. No misunderstandings. Leo has been spending the last few days knee deep in the sand, finding shells and attacking sand fleas.
(By the way, I’m eternally jealous of sand fleas. They are artists. They are perhaps the world’s only perfect souls. For no reason whatsoever they paint this in the waves as they move from crashing in to slinking away:
For the last few days, I’ve gone for long runs in the sunshine, bare armed, bare legged, hair whipped by wind and salt.
For the last few days, I’ve waded into the ocean. It’s cold, and the salt bites the skin.
For the last few days, I’ve tried to undo what I’ve done to myself for the last month and a half.
There’s something beautiful about, every once in a while, getting the hell out of Dodge. My house is a mess, the Christmas tree is likely a desiccated mess, the dog poop in the back yard is surely a mass of reeking, rain-saturated goo.
But last night, I got a night off from the children, and wandered with my husband through the cobbled streets of Saint Augustine and reveled in the lights and the stars and the ancient buildings and the sleeping stones. We leaned in the dark against the old fort. It smelled of must and gunpowder and car exhaust and ancient urine and brine. That fort is the oldest continuously used structure in America. It’s coquina walls are soft, but they are dense, thick, and quietly gnarly. They have never fallen in battle. They swallowed cannon balls whole. They did not crack before the ram. Those walls kick ass.
Soon, I will have to return home and reclaibrate my brain. Soon I will write to the people I have not written to (they are many) and critique the pieces that need critiquing and write the stories that still need writing and finish the novels that, even now, scratch at the windows of my soul like starving children, and fix the things that I have not fixed and call the people I have not called.
Soon. But not today. Today, I’m on vacation.