September 7, 2011


I am in search of joy--collecting it, hoarding it. It is an odd thing, because to be completely honest, the pursuit of joy was never something I gave much time or energy to in my before life. I revile the word, even. I associate joy with holiday greeting cards and insincere salutations from distant relatives and unfortunate names for children. It's a small word, but one that is so over-used and cheapened. It's used until it's bereft of meaning. According to the extremely reliable

joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.

So that is what I am looking for, and I think I have been, without knowing it, for a long time. There have always been moments of incredible happiness, of course, even when I was at my saddest, or saddest-ish. I've had to recalibrate all that a bit since Laura died--"saddest." This all might sound very navel gazing and, well, silly, but this is a new realization for me. A lot of people talk about wanting to be happy, myself included. Just happy, which I suppose means that we all want to be happy most of the time. I think this is an impossible demand. It's a difficult thing to feel genuinely happy when you're in line at CVS on a Friday night. Sure, you may be contented. You may be satisfied with your life and what/who you've surrounded yourself with. With the layout of the little universe you inhabit. I think that is feasible, and something I hope for. But, to be happy. I just can't be happy all the time. Instead, I'd like to experience moments of true joy. I think this all comes from the idiotic bike ride I took on Saturday night, with Kathleen and Scott. It was totally a bad idea in every sense, but in that absurdity I found myself experiencing total joy. I think Kathleen and Scott did too. It was impulsive--a "hey.... why don't we just bike there?' moment followed by ten minutes of all-out hollering. But it was absolutely joyful. And, as I said in my previous post, I felt young. I felt my age. The inevitable result of what has happened in my life is the feelings of aging I've experienced. Laura died, and I feel older than I am. I didn't in that moment. I think this summer has been full of joyful moments punctuating long periods of contentment, which is really all I could ask for.

Joy: swimming in Barn Creek late at night while the low tones of Blind Willie Johnson and Billie Holiday float down from the house and Uncle David sits on the bench on the dock, making sure I don't drown. Biking to the beach and swimming to the sand bar just as the sun sets, with walnut jellies glowing where my hands hit the water. The barn party in Tick Neck, and standing outside looking in as two women try and force their friend to dance. Learning to hula hoop on the Courthouse green outside Southwind on a Saturday afternoon. Running down the escalator at the Dupont metro. A cloud covering the sun at Bonnaroo. Showering in a hotel outside of Manchester having just left four days of dust and sweat behind. Riding the second tallest roller coaster in the world at Cedar Point and crying from the wind. Watching Kathleen epically wipe out at the Black Cat on Saturday night, only to pop up bleeding profusely but laughing even more. Handing out a story to my workshop and knowing that it's really, truly the way I want it to be. Picking vegetables from my Homagin garden. Kayaking in the late evening, following the wingtips of cownose rays. Pulling into the driveway of my family's home on Gwynn's Island.

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