It’s April 9. There was that thing I was supposed to do about Christmas. There was that thing I was supposed to do about Easter. I will get to it. And then maybe I will understand something.
Christmas has come and gone. Easter has come and gone ..almost… not quite. There are still vespers sung on Saturday evenings…. The White Shroud is hanging from the big wooden cross at the church across the street from the bus stop. Resurrection was not that long ago.
Seeing it there, that white shroud, draped around the big wooden cross in the middle. It was so strange. It looked a bit like a white scarf thrown casually around someone’s neck. Was a bit jaunty looking, ruffling just a little in the very slight breeze… like Isadora Duncan’s scarf or some elegant dandy’s , who just left it there on a chair or something while he looks out at the sweeping lawn of somewhere… as though he left it there for a moment and is coming back any minute. Then perhaps I understood something. Knew deep inside something. The white. The pure joy of it. Leaving it all behind. That scarf there in front of that massive church .. with one of the highest ceilings in North America… And why in the world even think about dandies. How archaic how odd how old-fashioned. But then I would rather live in the world where a few dandies still reigned.
It was like that Japanese couple who owned the sushi restaurant in town… the way they always said “Be Joyful Always”. I thought it was stupid at the time, saying that. Having that on their napkins and website, on their menus, seeing it on your check after you paid. Maybe I never knew what it meant. I felt it this morning, as soon as I looked at the cross and that white cloth.
Maybe it was the snow. It was all white this morning when I looked out. After slowly crawling out of bed. Feeling cold. Again. Feeling old and tired and worn out. I keep saying it because I keep feeling it. So what if this is insanity. It feels good sometimes just to say. I am sick and tired and old today.
You might feel extremely depressed looking out at snow on April 9. When all the daffodils have been growing taller and taller. Some are blooming already along the yellow brick building in the park across the street. And the blue hyacinths in my front garden. What’s left of them after the rabbits gnawing. They are so indigo blue so incredibly spring fat succulent. They’re covered in snow. The perfume struggling to get out.
You might get depressed and disgusted at the snow. I was just worn out tired and old. The coffee though was so good. My sense of smell came back and I could smell the sharp slightly apricot pit perfumey fragrance of the almond oil in the milk. A little like marzipan coffee. I had two full cups. The cup is quite large so it may count as four small cups.
It was so cold I had to put on my long underwear underneath the pants. And the furry black hat, and the red winter coat. And the gloves. The thin red leather ones Jada got me. Though they turned out to be a bit too thin for this cold.
I walked out to catch the bus for work and there was snow everywhere and it was also falling. A very fine sugar sprinkle kind of snow but softer. No snow stuck to the ground. It melted as soon as it hit. So walking was easy. The snow stuck to every little leaf branch twig and pine needle so the world was BEAUTIFUL. All the trees and shrubs and parts of the roofs and stairs and ornaments on the houses looked like paintings like etchings like woodcuts like complicated dreams. There were so many trees and shrubs to see. Some of the large pines… the snow accumulated at the very tips into tiny balls and they looked like what? Maybe Alice knows maybe the man who wrote” Winnie the Pooh” knows. Only a fool could walk out and think it was ugly. It was beautiful even though I was worn out tired and old today.
I love the cemetery now more and more. The one I pass going to the bus stop. An old cemetery… for here…. 1843. When this town was a farming community and the settlers were from Germany mostly and all these streets were farms and orchards. The park across the street from me is a remnant. Every now and then there is a new grave freshly dug, every now and then a huge bouquet of flowers… Every now and then a tingle of excitement when I pass as though something is about to turn or speak or spin around for me…. Every now and then I feel like running to the tombstones and throwing myself down and then going to sleep.. or at least hugging them. A rock now is the most passionate thing I could hug. That I want to hug. Solid, strong, and permanent.
I felt so alive walking in the snow. The air felt so fresh. It smelled so clean. Even with all the cars out I didn’t smell the gasoline. As though the falling snow, each tiny snowflake was an air purifier. My lungs felt clean. The air almost liquid. I wanted to drink it. I felt so alive it was startling. I could breathe so easily it was scary. Maybe I was really dead. Sometimes I can’t wait to be dead and wonder when it will finally happen and how. I won’t miss anything. But again, I might be dead already.
Underneath is so much depression frustration and anxiety it never ends. The snow today made it somehow irrelevant all that whiteness in April and the air cleaners and that white scarf and feeling dead.
I ran out without eating anything. Except for that coffee with almond milk.
I have been eating a lot of the Easter leftovers. Huge chunks of salty fresh bone in ham… the beet horseradish relish. There is no more babka left. I saved only a very small babka for myself, and had a very thin slice almost every day after work. I spread a large cold pat of sweet butter all over it. I tasted the fragrant yeast… the life of it.. the whole what of it… the orange peels and the organic slightly brown sugar… the egg yolks ….. the raisins… It really did taste like the sun. It tasted like love.
I remember my mother’s babka and how sometimes I did not want it when she gave it to me in that bag of leftovers. All those years ago, and then when I took it home, sometimes forgetting it for days, even a couple of weeks, leaving it on the counter only lightly wrapped. It never went bad ever, and then eating it and tasting, actually tasting the love that went into it. It scares me when I taste love in food. It’s so pure.
I couldn’t drink on Easter because I was not well. Everyone else could drink and the wine flowed. A very nice Gruner Veltiner or something refreshingly similar… and something someone brought called Pontificate.. if a Pope liked it, it must have been tasty…….. I never thought I could live through a family celebratory dinner without drinking… I did… I drank pure cherry juice with sparking water… and sparkling tangerine juices. They were so refreshing.
Today though, this morning, I was thinking about Martinis. Martinis as I was walking through the snow… trying to describe to my bus driver why I thought the snow looked beautiful why I thought the world was beautiful even though it’s ugly ugly ugly these days… The snow on all the trees was overwhelming my mind and the air was so fresh I almost died.
I thought of you. You must be old now. I should call you to see if you’re still alive. But then I won’t call because you might not be there or your phone will have that “this phone is disconnected now message”, or your husband will answer your private line and that will really mean you are dead… and that scares me and I don’t want to talk to him. I remember how you and I used to dress up, sometimes early in the afternoon, barely ll:30 a.m. and we would go to a really nice restaurant, “swanky” you would say…and order Martinis. Gin of course, the best in the house. And we would have them sometimes with oysters and sometimes with fried calamari. The martinis were icy cold like they should be … light on the vermouth…. anchovy olives and sometimes if they didn’t have them blue cheese. Oh the gin and the ice and the briny salty juice of the olives…. We sometimes had two martinis. Once we went to that new place and the martinis were supersized we could hardly lift the glasses… and they were filled to the brim. We both hated that.. how filled to the brim they were. We got really drunk. After the two supersized martinis we also each had a glass of very chilled very delicious white wine. Sometimes it was lobster ravioli, sometimes linguine with clams, sometimes a lovely pasta with the new spring vegetables….. I always ate and drank so much that my lipstick would start to get smeared. Sometimes the rim of the glass would be rosy with it and I discreetly wiped it off with a kleenex when you weren’t looking. I also did it for the waiter.. so he wouldn’t have to walk around with a bloody looking glass. After a while you started to look slightly disheveled, slightly worn out… If the light hit a certain way, especially a ray of sun… you looked a bit old.. old and tired and sick like me now.
The snow thrilled me so much today because I realized it came from God, it did not make itself, it was prehistorically beautiful and intricate and pure and clean…. I am just going to give it up give it up to God these days to figure things out. That doesn’t even make sense I know. In a syntactical sort of way if you care about syntax and I suppose I should because I am writing this and still spellcheck some days…. you might wonder why I am writing this and I might say hell I don’t know…. the wars the despots in the White House the greedy banker insurance agent… even the sun just last week I was cursing the sun. It was so bright no matter where I sat on the bus it was right there in my face. I had to keep changing seats and the bus was empty and the driver knows me so he wasn’t fazed and he also is starting to hate the sun… it seems to expose all the ugliness like dirty streaks on never washed windows. One day he and I spent the whole bus ride to work discussing how much we hate the sun.
We stopped at a light near the forest preserves and I looked out into the forest and was startled because I saw a bloody hand standing up straight in the middle of the snowy woods. Then I realized it was the reflection of the “Don’t Walk ” sign.
There was a Polish woman on the bus. I knew she was Polish by a certain look she had. No not a babushka or big bulky cleaning lady work clothes. She was elegantly coiffed and middle-aged with icy blond highlights in her black or gray or brown hair, but perfectly done. Actually the back of her head was like a tiny little forest…. She sat in front of me and she had on the most incredible perfume. At first I thought it was her hair product but it was definitely perfume. Very slightly sweet like that strange almost licoricey powdery scent certain daffodils have… mixed in with a baby pink rose and maybe a crushed violet. Whenever I can’t think of what something beautiful smells like I just say “crushed violet.” Violets actually have no scent. At least not here. Somewhere they must because I see those words used to describe quite a few wines quite a few quiet nights quite a few dreams even smoke.
If I could walk somewhere alone and really be alone I might be really happy. Yesterday walking through the park. The cold frozen ground but underneath everything waiting and waiting to come up. I could feel it. I stopped suddenly because I was surrounded by about 75 robins… they are out and about it is their time now… nonchalantly going about their business. I almost thought they were saying something… I got distracted then by piles of dog waste here and there, a large pile near that memorial tree with the beautiful tribute to an artist who died and that quote from Rengutu? I have to look it up but the gist of it was …..” it is harder for those of us left behind…..”
It’s harder for me to enjoy this park or the streets or the garden when I also have to look at people’s dog’s poo . Check these apostrophes will you? Like the people next door. Sometimes I look out of my guest room window upstairs and I can see their garden… their plain concrete, huge driveway driven plaything riddled, fire pit concrete bench filled garden… and I see them, the little plastic bags of doggie poo they leave there sometimes because they are too lazy or too tired to pick them up and put them in the trash can just two feet away… or maybe even though they love their funny little cute black and white mutt its poo disgusts them too. It can ruin everything for me. It has ruined dog love completely for me. And humans are a close second. After walking through that park I realized I need at least a hundred acres to be free. No I need a thousand.. Then I realize it would have to be at least 10,0000 acres. Just me and trees and farms and orchards and birds lots and lots of birds more birds than anything else… then come the flowers ….
Or maybe, just a few martinis now after the snow sitting here after the red light the cemetery the poison at work the dog waste the gasoline street and that shroud that white shroud that scarf oh God for a thousand acres somewhere sitting there somewhere with that dandy just the two of us drinking martinis…..
Lovely writing as usual, Olga! Now I’m craving a martini and it’s only 7 AM! Hope you’re well.
My beautiful friend! Thank you! Think of you so much! We need to have a few martinis!