Dear Readers — Did I mention that the Nats won the World Series? Just kidding. This week, at last, I won’t even spell R-E-D. Or say Y-A-Y.
November 6: A woman walked toward me wearing a stylish gold coat falling to her knees, an upswept collar and an orange silk scarf gathered at her neck. Below she wore skinny brown jeans and high heeled boots. Her short chestnut hair reflected the sun. Pretty, I told her, as I walked by. Splendid, I thought: twin to the maples, twin to the season.
November 7: I gazed at the fallen tree, splintered and gashed, and walked past it. But I could not stop thinking about the perfect ridges of exposed wood, striated like Southwest plateaus. Or the color, a delicate sandy blush. My camera won’t do it justice, nor my words. Just picture any surprising loveliness. That will do.
November 8: The waiters in the Brazilian steakhouse were dressed like gauchos. To each table they brought slabs of roasted meat, vertically skewered and sliced to order. A coaster, red side up, meant I’m done; green meant bring it on. My friend and I sat down and, after a few visits to the “market table” enjoyed the best vegetarian meal I’ve had in a while. Quinoa, kale, sun dried tomatoes and hunks of Parmesan spilled over my plate, smothering the artichokes, chick peas, roasted sweet potatoes and beets. Oh yeah, and we ate plantains and popovers for the appetizer and dessert. Maybe this is the way I can be careful and naughty at the same time?
November 9: Happy 28th Anniversary, Kevin. How did we get here? I remember. And I’m so very grateful.
p.s. Naturally, Kevin and I went on many dates after we first met. But getting me to the altar is another story.
November 9: I chose not to drive to the Apple store today. Instead, I popped on the metro and rode three stops to Clarendon. My reward: a lovely bright-sun walk under trees still waving color, and much more. First, I swung by our neighborhood bookstore to buy a book about a neighborhood bookstore. Then I sauntered down the bustling Clarendon street waiting for Chance. And Chance found me. A little boy saluted me, singing “One penny, two penny, hot cross buns!” He asked me the next verse. (“Three penny, four penny”?) and we agreed that the first verse was best anyway. Then I stumbled upon a gallery featuring water colors, acrylics, glass-work and more by local artists. Finally, (stop reading now, Kevin) I treated myself to coffee and cheesecake while I wept over yet another book about a neighborhood bookseller. I’m off to the metro now. Where will it take me?
November 10: The Sunday class at my yoga studio is perfectly timed to allow me to dash straight from church. The problem: it’s billed as vigorous. Bigger problem: the teacher today said she was asked to zip things up a little. Uh oh. I’m the one who can’t sit “criss cross apple sauce” without blocks supporting her knees. So, I had a choice. I chose to just let go. Our ego, the teacher reminded us, fosters pride, envy and discontent. We judge ourselves and others. What if, today, we decide that we are enough, that our practice is enough, and that we stretch ourselves with an intention of softness and joy. Yes! So I did what I could do with plenty of wiggles and creaky joints. And when I saw my companions’ legs and arms go places I didn’t think was possible outside of Cirque du Soleil, I smiled with gratitude that they were them and I was me. Bum in the air and all.
November 11: Imagine strips of William Morris wallpaper in sympathetic colors and mood. Now imagine whitened nudes and other figures engaging with each other against the color. Split the conversation in two with a column of mountain-view Polaroids, and add a hand-inked poem. You now have my newest piece of art, called “We Crafted Hills of Memories.” I’m honored to be the first — but certainly not last — collector of the works of collagist, poet and medievalist Katarzyna Gryglak.
Follow Katarzyna on Instagam at @katarzynagryglak
November 12: A few years ago, I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She reminds us to use joy as the measure for what to buy, keep or discard. She also supplies a very practical tip: when going through your clothes, don’t try to make progress by “cleaning a closet.” (If you’re like me, you’ll put most of the stuff back in again.) Instead, she urges us to sort like with like, so that we’re making fully informed decisions. Dutifully, I yanked my two dozen blazers from every closet and tossed them on the bed. Many go back to the 1990s, so discarding was easy. On top of the discard pile was a 25-year old black blazer with purple flowers and vines running through it. I’d never liked it. (No joy there!) Now it was going.
The same afternoon, I piled mounds of scarves on my bed. Again, I found items I never wore, or that I wore and never liked. Gone. On top of that discard pile was a purple scarf. Ugh.
As I was moving the jackets and scarves into sacks for Goodwill, I noticed the jacket and the scarf. Hmm. I might not like them, but they actually match. So I put them together with a black skirt, black top, and black tights and, as I tend to do when I experiment with new outfits, wore the whole thing to church. I got enough compliments to test the waters at work. More compliments. Ok, the jacket and scarf, coupled now, went back in my closet. Darn.
Today, I pulled them out. And, I am not kidding you, of the 30 people I saw today, 12 of them raved over the jacket and scarf. I mean, practically grab-me-by-the-shoulders-”I-love-this” reactions. Colleagues and strangers, in hallways, meetings and pantries. I really don’t get it. So back in the closet they go, to baffle me another time.
A reader’s delight: Kevin said this exchange kept him smiling all the way home. On a gorgeous afternoon bike ride, Kevin rolled to a stop where the bike path crosses Gallows Road. He leaned on his handle bars and waited for the light to turn. Another cyclist arrived and they waited together. Kevin groused, “Don’t you hate this intersection?” Without missing a beat, the other cyclist turned to Kevin and quipped, “I’ve spent some of the best years of my life here.”
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