I have had a day of actual Spring Cleaning. For the last two days, the City has been flush with a blooming, singing, tantara of glory at the coming of the newest season. I have taken the chance, being on break, to make use of the energy such life brings and begin to go through belongings. Stacking books for donations, doing laundry to clean clothing that will hopefully help someone who has greater need than I do… I made two trips to a local rectory to drop off those and one trip with the books…two blocks over, one down, to the basement of a nearby branch of New York Public Library where the Friends group of the library began a bookshop to help raise money.
Happy as I was to drop off two sacks of material that had been taking up space in my small room, I also couldn’t help thumbing through several volumes that caught my eye on the shelves. “What would it hurt to bring one home?? The ratio of donations to take-home would be heavily in favor of donations…hmm, let’s keep looking.” I decided to allow myself one book.
I picked up one called Chasing Matisse. Having fallen in love with his colors, textures, and patterns after an exhibit at the Met pairing his paintings with the fabrics he used for inspiration, this one was a distinct possibility. Then, looking at the spine, I noticed two breaks in the pages. Flipping to the first, I found Miss Antonia G.’s boarding pass from her trip to Paris. There was no year that I could find, but based on the copyright of the book, 2005, it wasn’t that long ago. Did she enjoy the book? Was Antonia’s trip business or pleasure? What is her work? How was the trip? Did she find whatever she was seeking–or discover something she was not seeking at all? I wanted to sit with her, another woman who seems to pick her companion books particularly, and have coffee. Maybe talk books, maybe not.
Then, I found an old dear friend. Someone I had already met but not seen in a while. Instantly, I broke out into a smile of recognition and relationship and allowed my hands to embrace her words for a moment before reading the first paragraph and reminding myself why I so enjoy her company.
Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where a few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself and to the rain ticking gentle against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my “real” life again at last. That is what is strange–that freinds, even passionate love, are not my reali life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet, I taste it fully only when I am alone here and “the house and I resume old conversations.”
-May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude-
I read these words differently now that I have years of writing under my own pen, paper, and steam. I see her influence in my entries and recognize a kinship of need for space and time and relationship in order to “discover what is happening or has happened.”
Her words came home with me today–in more ways than one. I am grateful.