Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

The distance time makes

Gusting winds bring a quilt of sunshine and rain to billow over us all morning. Heidi and I watch for an opening of sun and go for a walk... but alas, we are not quick enough, and are caught in a downpour. For long minutes, we stand together under the shelter of an evergreen, watching the rain needle down. When we start again, it is still raining, though gentler. I turn my face to it, the rain pats my face with tiny hands.

I've been trying to write for days, and when I sit down, nothing comes to the page. Derek and I sit down for breakfast, and after discussing essays he wonders how I begin to write.

"I read," I say, startled at the answer, and momentarily marveling at the newness of the question.

So that's what I've done all afternoon, curled in an afghan to warm myself against inactivity and the damp of today's steady drizzle. I started with snippets of Dillard's "For the Time Being", and an Economist article on migrant work in the U.S. sandwiching many others with this incredible discovery of dessert and a delightful photographic narrative of dough shapes. The voices and stories stir my thoughts, and I finally feel I, too, might have something to say.

These irregular updates are so far away from the "post a day" I attempted just four months ago. I wish I could say that what does emerge is better for the wait, but we would both know it to be untrue. I find myself instead with just a week left at home, then a week with some of my dearest friends (skiing in Utah), and me wondering about how full days pass more quickly than the empty ones, how time stretches when I am most alone. Never has the drive from San Francisco Airport been so long as after I dropped off Clay yesterday, my mind full of the sudden space beside me. Never have the hours so flown as when puffed with plans and bustle. How long life must seem for a house dog!

My family celebrated my grandmother's and my uncle's birthdays last week. Dynasty, per usual, for a feast of dim sum and the ties that bind. Everyone seemed more carefree than usual, reigning the meal with laughter and the latest events. A rare appearance even, from my Uncle Joe. And everything capped with homemade carrot cake, a birthday song without candles. I've always loved the birthday song for family members, especially the joint ones. When we get to "Happy birthday, dear--" everyone breaks into their separate relationships: Dad, NaiNai, JiouJiou, Calvin, Ma,.. So many different meanings, and yet here we all are, drawn together by the force of feeling and welcome obligation.

And now the New Year, rung in with the festivities of family, insatiable appetite, carefree dancing, unconquerable happiness. I gave up on New Year's resolutions, or so I've been telling people. The rest of my year is so full of them already, many already broken. Being present in every day means wondering always how to be better, loving and understanding more, constantly questioning but also giving thanks for what has been given. If this act doesn't lead to resolutions, perhaps nothing will.

Today I speak to Lindsey on the phone for the first time in months. Too long, it's been, but the conversation is sweet and easy. We wish we could be nearer.

I think about the voids that distance creates, and how adventurousness takes us into them. Is opportunity worth them? What really matters? "This country is so big," and yet next to the vastness of the space, and the yawn of a mind alone, the country with all its wild and unfathomable oceans and landscapes seems not so big after all.

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