Sunday, February 27, 2011

Coffee and Nostalgia

I find myself, on this fine Sunday morning, sipping my coffee in my bed and feeling very happy.  I've just returned from our annual Florida vacation.  It was filled with roller coasters, sunshine and lots of family time.  Before you groan and expect to be subjected to only half witty tales of what my kids said or did that plucked at a mother's heartstrings, rest assured that I'm not going there with this post.  Those of you that know me well enough have already been bombarded with cute photos and tales of this and that.

I threw a couple of easy poolside reads into my bag expecting some mindless relaxation.   While wrapped up in a cheesy murder/suspense novel by Tana French, called  "In the Woods" (which had potential to be fun, but ended up sucking the big one due to the stupid ending), I was stopped dead in my tracks by a paragraph.  Of course, it was the words of the deeply disturbed narrator, but it struck me so deeply that I found myself reading it over and over again.

I am not good at noticing when I'm happy, except in retrospect.  My gift, or fatal flaw, is for nostalgia.  I have sometimes been accused of demanding perfection, of rejecting heart's desire as soon as I get close enough that the mysterious impressionistic gloss disperses into plain solid dots, but the truth is less simplistic than that.  I know very well that perfection is made up of frayed, off-struck mundanities.  I suppose you could say my real weakness is a kind of long-sightedness: usually it is only at a distance, and much too late, that I can see the pattern.  

Even as I copy the passage, it really pisses me off that I could never articulate my own personality in the way that this mediocre author did for her own messed up character.  But I'm glad she did, because it gave me much to ponder.   So many people I know tout 'living life to the fullest and in the moment', but truth be told, there aren't as many that are capable of actually doing it.   I'm guilty.  I get so wrapped up in life that I don't stop.    My type A personality sees the lack of this or that far too often, throwing out the beauty of the moment.  Everyone knows I'm uptight, there is simply no denying it.  Sometimes I find it sad that my quest for perfection hinders me in other ways.  Maybe I could change if I were to make a massive effort to do so.   I gotta say, though, I'm not keen on being a self loather, intent on 'fixing' myself.  I embrace both my attributes and my flaws, and over the years I've learned to give myself the gift of truly loving that mixed bag and believing in myself.   It doesn't stop me from wondering what the point of all that drive is, however, if you can only sometimes experience the wonders and joys life gives without pulling the moments out of your memory.

I do that a lot, I pluck moments and eras out of my head and stroke them softly.   Quite often, they are the same ones, worn and frayed around the edges.  Snapshots of days I'll never get back but can't stop revisiting.  Friends that I've lost,  people who I'll never see, much less throw my arms around again.  Family that I'll never share any modicum of closeness with or know again.   Most of all, it's the girl that catches my attention.  Young.  Carefree, naive and fully of youth and folly, too wrapped up in the heady moment to be anything but utterly blissful in my cluelessness regarding the bumpy days to come… blindly happy.  That's just how nostalgia paints me to myself, though.  I'm not so deluded to think I've ever been anything but me.  I've always been me.    Conflicted, critical, constantly striving for a standard in myself and everyone around me that it  is almost impossible to live up to.   There are people that would sagely shake their head in agreement regarding this assessment, sitting way up on their soapbox.  What they don't realize is that I know, too.   I am not the least bit deluded as to who I am and how I can be.  I am self aware.

My week was a great one.  I made nice memories on my trip.  I saw the last Discovery Mission Launch with my family.  I got to spend a week of uninterrupted time with my grown son.  I watched my boys fight and bond.  I laughed and enjoyed myself as I pushed my unrest away as far as I could.  I live in a state of restlessness, my head wanders, I don't relax.   Socialization exhausts me to the core.   Now I sit in my own bed, admiring my fuchsia sheets and watch my cat curled up in a space of sunlight next to me.  I'm utterly content, basking in the beautiful silence.  I drink from my familiar coffee mug and relish not having to speak, relish it to an extend you wouldn't believe.  I'm soaking it all in, vowing to immerse myself in the peacefulness of the moment.   But I know.  I know that no matter how intent I am on appreciating it now, it's only going to be truly perfect when I remember it later.  But the flip side is, I'll be able to keep it that way forever.

Gift or flaw?   I'm not sure, but I accept.


  1. Wonderful post! This was such a joy to read, quiet, peaceful. Soothing like an old soft worn pair of slippers. The way you describe everything and the imagery, very nice.

    I know exactly what you mean about nostalgifying. Not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, just a thing and one I enjoy too. The gentle acceptance you wrote about struck me because my default is pretty self-critical. Being a perfectionist is very taxing, like being in a fist fight, draining without a guaranteed good outcome or sense of satisfaction. And I totally know what you mean about relishing not having to speak.

    Ag, I have a feeling I am breaking some kind of blogger etiquette by leaving these book-length comments but this is really good stuff! I know I'm going to be thinking about this all day. =)

  2. What is this blogger etiquette you speak of? ;) I love your comments, not only because I always like hearing what you have to say, but because you interpret my words exactly as they are. Boy, can I appreciate that quality.

    You know, perfectionists are wound up pretty tight. I set the bar too high across the board, and I've tried unsuccessfully in the past to just try to fake the whole laid back thing. It wasn't a raging success. Ownership and realization has made me more tolerant of myself, so that's the route I choose to take. ;) Besides, being more accepting of yourself somewhat opens the door for making certain allowances in others you care about, and that's a great gift to give those you want to keep around.