Whenever someone asks me what’s new, I have the worst answer:
It’s generic and obscure, but it’s my answer. Does anyone really want to hear about the mundane details of anyone’s life?
– Somebody moved in upstairs, and every time they open and close their closet door it sounds like an angry beast is bellowing in pain.
– I cooked risotto last week for the first time. It was good.
– Australian immigration emailed me, which was exciting until I saw that it was only to tell me that my application was being re-routed to the Perth office.
– Last week I discovered that cherries are officially out of season.
I mean, if you would like me to expand on any of these topics, just say the word. I’ve been struggling to come up with things to write about lately. But other than that, yeah, not much out of the ordinary has been happening.
At the same time, I have this weird sense that something is going to happen. That this time – pre-visa, pre-marriage, pre-final draft – is a transitional period in my life, a gateway into the next phase. This year is when the things we’ve been preparing for and talking about for so long are on the verge of being completed, and as of yet we don’t have concrete plans to replace them. Jared and I are just…living normal lives, working out what we want to do next. Living in the land of the ‘not much.’
In high school, graduating seniors traditionally choose a quote to be published under their photo in the yearbook. My biggest regret is that I went too serious with my choice, but high school graduation had me feeling pretty wistful and retrospective at the time. I was suddenly acutely aware that growing up meant never getting these moments back, that being a teenager came with an expiration date.
Anyway, let’s not go sappy like it’s 1999. My quote was this:
And the days went by like paper in the wind
Everything changed, then changed again
~Tom Petty, To Find a Friend
I liked how it addressed the gradual, infinitesimal nature of what it means to live life. That sometimes, the days are just caught in a gust of wind, fluttering past before you can grab them. And then you’re looking around, trying to work out where you’ve misplaced the past couple of months, or years, as if they’re a pair of glasses that you later find sitting on your head. And all you can remember is how those days felt, because you didn’t think that anything actually happened.
In a recent episode of Downton Abbey, the butler, Carson, had a line that stuck with me.
“The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end that’s all there is.”
It stuck with me because it bugged me. That’s it? That’s all you get? At first, I reluctantly agreed with the statement. Technically, yeah, that’s what you’re left with at the end of a life – personal and shared memories.
But now I think that it’s an oversimplification of this business of life, which is doing. All of the doing – graduating, saying ‘I do,’ finishing the final draft, watching too many kitten videos, trying to bake bread rolls at home, walking to the beach after dinner – all of it. Your actions, no matter how mundane, shape who you are. They don’t just provide you with memories.
Whoa. There I go, getting all 1999-broody-and-intense again. That’s the other unappreciated benefit of living in the not-much; it gives you time to think, to re-assess, and to make the most of what’s to come. I say that not much is happening, but it turns out that ‘not much’ is actually quite a lot.
So. What’s new with you?