Thursday, May 17, 2012

It Seemed Like That Sort of Day

Things that make me happy, sometimes:

1. The way the mountains are a half-circle around Greenville, sometimes standing out in stark relief against a clear sky, sometimes hazy behind clouds, sometimes so completely fogged they're invisible. They are the kind of mountains that make it very clear why mountains are sacred spaces all over the world. Imagine living before electricity, Google Maps, or even compasses, and knowing even on the days you could not see them, the mountains were there.

2. That my almost-daily drive up to Pickens to go to work involves, in a roundabout way, heading up into the true foothills of those mountains. When the drive is easy, like today, I have time to pay attention to the slow climb upwards I am making. If I didn't need to stop at my place of employment, I could make one turn, head out of Pickens going north, then make another... and just drive until I'm a part of that hazy blue height and the only restaurant in miles is Aunt Sue's Country Kitchen or the place connected to the Pumpkintown Opry (both of those places are real places, I promise you).

3. When I hear people discussing what a "small town" a certain place is and then describe the 5,000 or so inhabitants who live there, and I think about growing up in a town that had 800 or 900 people, maybe a thousand tops if you counted during the Fall Festival back when it used to be The Thing to Do.

4. When the coffee comes out just right and all I need is the tiniest sprinkle of sugar or hint of agave nectar and just enough milk to bring out the best parts of the taste.

5. When I order iced coffee somewhere and discover they have Irish Cream syrup and declare myself a happy slave to high fructose corn syrup, if only for this moment.

6. When the waitress informs me that the syrup they use doesn't have corn syrup in it, so I can rest easy.

7. That, no matter that I tried very hard, I never succeeded in ridding myself of my nerdy, squeaking version of laughter that comes when I am so hit by the hilarity of a moment that I can't make the laughter sound ladylike at all. I often laugh the way my late grandmother laughed, and while it embarrassed me as a teenager, it's a thrill to me now that I never lost that single piece of truth that reminds me that I've got her under my skin, too.

8. When I am in Illinois and the sky is empty and blue and might crash down on my head any second, because there are no hills or mountains to hold it up... when the corn is high and the beans are green and grown, just before the corn begins to yellow and dry out, and you stand under that overturned bowl of a sky and listen to the wind blow through the fields.

9. When I am reassured that I can connect to this land, too; I only traded one beautiful landscape for another, I didn't lose anything in the process.

10. When Jason tells me something about his blacksmithing Saturdays out at the mill and I ask him, "Doing this regularly again makes you really happy, doesn't it?" and he just smiles in return.

11. When we are house-hunting and Jason gestures to an empty extra room and talks about this being the kid's room.

12. That there is no kid yet, which lets me hold onto last-minute dinners, parties and movie plans... but there is the promise of kids to come, to look forward to.

13. When I am headed to work in the morning and get to remember that I don't work in a call center anymore, and I'm not working for minimum wage, either.

14. When I am in the bookstore and see the next book to add to my list. (It's this book, for anyone who is actually curious. I can't imagine there are many of you.)

15. That just as I begin to realize I have spent so little time with a friend of mine lately that I've begun to miss them, we get to hang out together and my friend mentions that they have missed seeing me lately. It makes my superstitious little heart glad to have coincidences like these - like when I say out loud that some people we are expecting may not be coming, and less than two seconds later I hear the doorknob turn as they come in. Or when I mention that I've got a weird headache, it's probably going to rain and then I hear a burst of thunder.

16. When the anxiety disorder crawls its ugly self into the back of my brain and I get to simply enjoy the idea that things are going really well right now, and it isn't followed up with a sudden rush of helpless lists of everything that might go wrong.

17. Having a smartphone and being able to check my e-mail anytime I want. So what if it's a petty happiness? It's my petty happiness. Also my phone is blue. That's nice, too.

18. That I go to sleep next to Jason and wake up with him, too.

19. That sometimes, I say something and then clap my hands over my mouth because I sound just like my mother - or, occasionally, my father. Sometimes my sister.

20. That I made it to twenty on this list, and I am aware that I could easily write out twenty, thirty, or forty more... and I'm only not doing it because I think you'd all find a way to throw a shoe through the internet is you tried to read me talk like this for that long.

Or, you know, you'd close out the screen and go about your daily lives.

I think to think you'd try to discover how to throw a shoe through the internet, though.

I guess that last thought would be number 21?


  1. This was what I needed to read today :)

    2. I've gone to both those places - no lie!

    4. The BEST EVER. I am currently addicted to Starbucks Three Region with a dash of cocoa powder and legit cream. I make it at work after everyone drains the Folgers because I am a diva, and I share my coffee with a SELECT FEW.

    11 and 12 made me smile - can I be a crazy aunt?

    14. Of course we care!

    17. Isn't nice? Turning it off is nice too.

    Your 21 could be that this list made my day 1000% better! Thanks for reminding me to remember the important stuff.

  2. what a lovely list of things that make you happy. Greenville sounds beautiful. I can't imagine seeing mountains everyday. And coffee... it will forever make me happy. :)

  3. Liz - I've been to Aunt SUe's, but I haven't yet been out to the Opry... I'm not sure if I'd like it or not. Was it fun?

    Kate - It took me a while to get used to it! At first I felt kind of hemmed in, because Illinois is just so flat and open... but the prettiness of it grows on you pretty quickly :)


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