It’s been a wonderful day.
Went back to bed after breakfast to finish the last of the 806 pages of A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara), messaging my success to the youngest son, who had pushed me to buy the book 10 days ago and ‘read it as quickly as you can, please, so we can discuss it.’
I stayed up late and woke up early to read, abandoned Netflix, read at breakfast, read in the bathroom, read in the middle of the day. The middle of the day!!
Did I like it? Hate it? Bit of both? I couldn’t say which. What I did like was being completely pulled in to the story of Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB, even if substantial parts of the book were harrowing to read, and the foreshadowing made me afraid to continue. You should take it on if you dare.
A ding announced a message: my daughter has received a solid offer for a job she thought she had, then feared she wouldn’t get. Now she’ll move to another city, not too far, but far enough that there won’t be Sunday morning pancakes together. I admire her resolve, her willingness to do what it takes to learn new things, build a reputation in her field. At least it’s not Australia, or France, or Sweden this time..
Then lunch at a little Japanese place with a good, good friend. Two hours of conversation about things that mattered, and some that didn’t. Emerging into a blast of sunlight, I walked back to the car, hopping awkwardly over rivulets of snowmelt turned to sly ice in the shadows.
Downtown to drop off a necklace for repair at a goldsmith’s shop. His atelier, on the second floor of a heritage building, smells of old wood and history, every surface covered with tools, drawers full of gemstones. He is an artist, a creator of beauty, but he seems not to mind such a simple job as the one I’ve brought him: the necklace my husband brought me when I woke up from cardiac surgery has lost its tiny blue heart and I feel naked without it. A heart for a heart, says the goldsmith.
I walk past a homeless guy slumped in the subway (in my town, a subway is a passage under the railway tracks) and felt shitty, as usual, for avoiding the misery of a person who hasn’t had my luck. Tired of feeling shitty, I go to MacDonald’s and order a takeout meal.
He is about the age of my oldest son, mid-thirties at most. Dirty, cold, and not very with it. Drugged, probably, but able to rouse himself enough to say he could do with something to eat. Then he reaches up, opening his arms for an embrace. My first instinct is No!, but my second, better one is to lean down and hug him for a long moment.
Came home, got Noa, the giant dog. Took him up on the hill (his favourite place) to run giddy and panting with a pack of neighbourly dogs, among them Norman, a tall, elegant thing who never gets over his wonderment that there exists a dog bigger than he. Norman’s mistress, a wickedly funny professor of American history, invited us back to her house for a glass of wine with her husband, a wickedly funny professor of American history, whereupon Noa seized on the dog toys and quietly, ruthlessly, shredded a number of them while we drank our rouge.
In the chill aftermath of sunset, we galloped back home. I imagined people seeing us from their kitchen windows, tittering at a middle-aged woman flying down the street, helpless to rein in a dog hell-bent on his dinner. It was my fault entirely: I urged him on with that single word.
We ate companionably: me leftovers, he a raw egg drizzled over his kibble, the better to make his meds palatable. He eyed my plate, but for nothing: I never feed him from the table.
Then there was noise at the front door, the sound of big shoes dropped to the floor: the oldest son, come by for a quick ‘hi’ and oh, some leftovers. Things got interesting, and he stayed on for an hour and a half. While he talked, I searched his face, trying to find in his strong, handsome features the three-year-old who had thrown himself into the arms of a stranger, yelling ‘”Cuddle!” Oh, it goes by so fast, a life.
Now the house is quiet. The dog sleeps, paws twitching as he dreams.
And I will have to find a new book to read.