Dear love, I have just pulled a latticed strawberry-rhubarb pie out of the oven, which I baked along with a small pan of chicken wings marinaded with yogurt, garam masala, and grated ginger; and another of small farmstand beets tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil. I have watered the garden and hanging baskets, and dug in another enormous lush, white-panicled goatsbeard - to fill a large gap and to join the first, planted a few years ago - at the back of the woodland border: my "masterpiece," the only border that I seem to be able to manage, although it too gets weeds, but not as monstrous and prolific as in other parts of the garden. I have to remember to stop by Randy's tomorrow and give him the money I owe for the plant. I had about ten dollars on me, hopped in the car (since I had it for the day) and went over there, but it's such a large plant that it costs more it turns out - anyway, he's a sweetheart, I'll pop by there tomorrow with the right amount.
I've been musing about something I wrote in yesterday's post that I realized wasn't quite true. I had quoted James Lord's line, of his memorable lunch with Dora and another friend, "This was one of those moments that seemed to define the universe forever by the piercing delight of the present." I then wrote, "Where I am now is just such a moment too." And I realized (probably did even as I wrote it) that that wasn't true, not really at all. I was having a pleasant time certainly, enjoying the sun and peaceful hour, attending to it, and I could be grateful for that. But it wasn't the variety of moment that James Lord was describing - that is, a peak experience - of 'piercing delight'. What a perfect word in that context - 'piercing' - that singularly rare stabbing of time-unbounded ecstasy. I do sense just what Lord meant, and I have experienced such fleeting moments in my life, of course. Though not in a while, quite a long time. I think it might be true for me to say that the closest I've come in recent history was the day I spent that included moments that you and I were together in the same room, I just felt so full of feeling - delight, discovery, wonderment - seeing you for the first time in a new way, sensing that my feelings were reciprocated, in that unspoken Kitty & Levin way that makes it perhaps a little less than peak piercing experience - or maybe, no, that's what it took, this circumlocutous, unspoken dance of interpreting your smile, glancing at you whenever I could, whenever I felt I could get away with it unawares. Those are the little images that I carry with me in my mind, that I cherish.
It's funny, the only other moments I have felt something close to that, at least in recent months, are when I've taken myself out for a little lunchtime meal at an elegant restaurant in town. The restaurant has its frustrations, yet I enjoy being served a cool glass of white wine in an elegant stem, taking my fork delicately to sample a dish that proves to be tantalizing & mysterious, a new experience, if only because I haven't made it myself, as with many of my dishes (& I'm a good cook), many times over.
Like E.D. I find I have to engineer peak experiences for myself, and I do manage to, at least sometimes, and thoughts of you, parts of you, deconstructed I'm afraid darling, amorously so, help. Today I fantasized absurdly about being seated at that long table with you, with so many others there rapt in conversation, chandelier bright, wine glasses brimming, platters passed around, children scattered to basement and to rafters up to their own devices so that the adults have a nice time. I cherish a moment when you passed behind me and lightly brushed your hand against my back. And I think of the moments in that hour when I would look at you, a couple of seats away, safe uninteresting stranger between, and I'd see you smiling reflectively, a private thought that made you happy, your eyes cast down, and my looking at you, at the very moment when your face was cast just that way, amidst the cheerful holiday whirl & candlelight. So today I had the most absurd fantasy that involved me slipping beneath the table, completely unnoticed by anyone at the party, on my knees, between yours, alternate, loving, urgent drama played out in silence below the chatter & tumult and clink of china and yelps of laughter from someone's joke - you & me together in spirit, your smiling to yourself reflectively, eyes cast down, in the midst of all the company and clatter, under the cover of long damask cloth.