“A multitude of small delights constitute happiness.”
I finished the leftovers today: one last serving of smoked turkey, and an appetizer smatter of salami, crackers, and cranberry goat cheese. All that remains from a delight and food-filled week, from a birthday and a day of thanks. There was a multitude of food this week: food prepared with new recipes, food shared, food carried in foil-covered casserole platters, food munched mid-sentence. My week was sushi and a five-nut brownie, pumpkin soup and ice cream cake, wine and turkey. Someone brought sweet potato souffle to my Thanksgiving buffet, and I had three helpings of it before I brought helping four and five home in a tupperware. All the delights together were wonderful, and although it’s sort of a dull aftermath, finishing leftovers and eating raw salad and doing dishes, the small delights continue to gather: Christmas decorations emerging from this rare California cold front and red cardboard cups full of peppermint lattes emerging from Starbucks.
It’s funny how when you say, “It’s been one of those days,” people know exactly what that means. It’s funny because everyone has those days, but what those really means is different for everyone. I appologized for being late today to a 16-year-old, and sighed the aforementioned phrase.
“Me too,” she said, eyes wide. “Totally.”
I wonder what constitutes one of those days for a 16-year-old. I wonder what constitutes one of those days for the CEO of Goldman Sachs, or for the homeless dude shifting through our apartment’s recycling bin just minutes ago.
I had one of those days today, but I won’t list the items, because they are ridiculous and silly, but feel defeating and wearying. I’m not usually one to talk (or write) much about music, but last week I got a brand new iPod that is about the size of a postage stamp and, after a mess of incompatible software and unnecessary upgrades and Apple customer service hotlines, I fired him up today. (After a succession of iPod’s named “Megan” or “Megan’s!” or “Mine”—devices which I subsequently lost or broke—I changed it up this time around, and named the little guy Tito).
Anyway, Tito was about the only thing that worked today. And music was about the only thing that got me through my exhaustion and the silliness of a weird day. Music that I forgot I had and forgot I loved. This one in particular forced some sunshine down my throat today around 6 p.m. (and sometimes forcing sunshine down your throat is all you can do to make it through the few hours that remain until you can go home and put on your pajamas and realize that you have it pretty good.)
I woke up Monday morning to a refreshed city, wet sidewalks and clear skies after a mid-night downpour. It’s been unusually clear in Santa Monica. Last week, as I trundled along my street, turning left on Cloverfield to catch the freeway, or down Colorado towards the gym, I’ve been catching glimpses of ocean. At the end of a 2.5 mile slope to the sea, this strip of blue is barely a strip; it’s a short mustache cupped between looming cheeks of glass and below a hooked nose of grey cement. Buildings and traffic press on it, dart in my vision, but there it remains, solitary and small and beckoning.
I love these glimpses of the beach, 2.5 miles back where I live, because they are so unexpected. Yes, 2.5 miles is a lot closer than most live to the Pacific—hideyho, Colorado—but it’s still far enough that I often forget it’s there, that I live in in a city that touches the beach. I forget, and there’s traffic and then, in the pause of a red light, there it is: the edge.
Monday, in honor of the reversal of Daylight Saving’s Time (daylight, I’ll still savor you); and sunset falling before rush hour; and in honor of crisp post-rain air, I got in my car and darted down to the beach, to the cliffs north of the pier. Expansive and wild wind and blue and blowing sand; the whole view from a point above, and it’s huge, the edge of a continent. I want to visit the beach more just to say hello: not to run or bike or to get coffee or see people who live near the beach, but just to say, hey neighbor, how are you.
They’re different, these glimpses. One is hidden and barely beautiful and fleeting but wonderful in the contrast. The other is almost too much, an exploding sunset over the Pacific, and in full view, bold and too permanent.