A friend writes:
How is it to be home? What do your days consist of? Tell me tell me.
My days are for the most part happily uneventful. I always sleep late. I usually take my mother out to lunch (nowhere fancy–there aren’t any fancy places to take her in Smalltown!), after which we run whatever errands may need running. I brought home a couple of unfinished pieces that require my attention, but I haven’t yet started working on them. My brother and his family, who live three blocks away, frequently poke their heads in after dinner; otherwise, my mother and I do the dishes, watch a little TV or a movie, and chat contentedly about old times, local gossip, and whatever I may have been up to since my last visit home. She goes to bed around ten-thirty, after which I surf the Web, answer the day’s e-mail, blog a bit, and read myself to sleep. I packed four new books, David Thomson’s The Whole Equation, Ada Louise Huxtable’s brief life of Frank Lloyd Wright, the new Willem de Kooning biography, and the galleys of Doug Ramsey’s biography of Paul Desmond–more than I needed, but I’ve always been overambitious when it comes to holiday reading.
That’s normally about the size of it, but yesterday was different. We’d been talking about driving to Cape Girardeau to polish off our Christmas shopping, and when the weatherman told us on Monday that it was going to snow on Wednesday, we figured we’d better stop procrastinating and get the rest of it done while we still could. It happened that my mother’s boss was buying lunch in Cape on Tuesday for all the girls in the office (my septuagenarian mother, who continues to work in the mornings, finds it highly gratifying to be thought of as “one of the girls”), so I joined the party, and after lunch we got in my rental car and whizzed around town, keeping an eye on the cloud-filled sky in between stops. Once we’d worked our way to the bottom of the checklist, we turned around and headed for home. I popped a Louis Armstrong album into the CD player and told stories about Louis’ New Orleans childhood as we listened to “Blues in the Night” and “Just One of Those Things” and watched the clouds grow thicker.
Back in Smalltown, we picked up some just-in-case groceries, filled a prescription, bought one last present at Wal-Mart, and rented four videos that I thought my mother might enjoy seeing, The Secret Lives of Dentists, Napoleon Dynamite, Open Range (she likes Westerns), and Stuck on You. We got home just in time to catch the five o’clock weather on TV. It started raining around ten, right on time, and I went to bed with the benign glow of achievement that comes from knowing that you’re as ready as you can possibly be for a two-day blow.
I woke before sunrise, looked out my bedroom window, and saw at least two inches of snow glittering beneath the streetlights of Hickory Drive. Content at last, I got back in bed and returned to my mundane dreams.