The walkway leading to the house has been swept.
The hydrangeas have ripened to their leathery fullness.
The last vestiges of summer hang on in defiance of the calendar.
Inside the glass door, the living room sits quietly in wait.
The bookshelves have been dusted. A candle flickers on the coffee table. There is a bouquet of flowers that looks like it’s been both meticulously and casually arranged. A fringed damask lamp glows in the corner, but enough light from a bay window spills into the room to lend it cheer and tranquility. On a sumptuous couch, a sea of pillows cradles the softest blanket in the world. You may remember the space. I’ve brought you into this room several times over the years. This time is slightly different. We’ve been apart for a while, and there’s the usual moment of readjustment. It’s not quite awkward, but it feels new enough to be slightly disconcerting. We will take our time getting reacquainted.
A tray of dainty crust-free sandwiches shall be brought, and your choice of tea. Do you take lemon or honey? There is coffee on hand as well, though if you’re like me you’ll want cream and sugar for that. I’d offer you a cocktail if it wasn’t so early in the day, but we’ll have more than enough time to graduate into headier libations later. For now, we begin in sober fashion.
You haven’t brought a coat or hat, so there’s nothing much to distract from our immediate reunion. I don’t hug everyone, no matter how long it’s been. That’s not an indication of disdain. Please, sit. It’s been so long. Where do we begin?
I suppose we should start with the summer. How do you encapsulate an entire season in a single sitting? The cup plant rose, flowered, went to seed and fed the yellow finches along the way. The cold Maine ocean lapped at our toes and tickled our ankles. The sweet potato vines crept steadily down from their perch while the papyrus crept steadily up to the sun. A baby bunny appeared on the lawn one day, nibbling on the grass, and we let him stay a while. He had a small white spot of fur in the middle of his forehead, and somehow managed to steer clear of more ornamental leaves.
I returned to an old cherished tradition of reading one classic per summer, and this year it was ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte: “I would always rather be happy than dignified.” If you have any proposals, I’m looking for a good fall read. Something cozy, with a few yarns of intrigue, maybe tinged with the macabre for the approach of the dark season.
Mostly, though, I rejoined the living. It took a few days to get accustomed to it. I’d been conditioned to always think of the next post, to consistently catalog the events of a day into written format, to document everything that happened for future dissertation. When that went away, I felt a profound freedom, and a sense of relief. It was so enjoyable, I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to come back.
I did have moments of missing it. When a wonderful animated short on a gay romance showed up online, I wanted to post it and share it with the world (it will be up shortly). Instead, I sent it to a few select friends, who each replied with their take on it – and it was more of a response than I would have received had I posted and promoted it to the masses. It was the major lesson in this vacation: the ones who matter remain constant, and the one-on-one time I spent with them was more worthwhile than connecting to a million people on a broader social media scale. In some ways, that was incredibly reassuring.
But I also realized that I missed having a voice. A summer of silence is a good thing, but when the focus turns indoors, when I had a moment or phrase I wanted to share, I pined for an outlet. FaceBook and Twitter and Instagram can only express so much. My stories took more than 140 characters, required a complete lack of censorship, and could only be fully realized in a space like this.
Today, I honor this place, and anyone who has deigned to return here. I’ve come to know a few of you off the online grid, but this is for everyone who came back. I hope there are a couple new visitors too – I do my best to be extra kind to first-timers.
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