Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Just another Christmas Past

It's good to be home, to see the parents and sleep in a house that smells like a home should smell, but at the same time, it's just all awash with memory—lovely, happy, sad, and most of it a long time ago. Looking through the Christmas books my mom had out in the big basket, I found two in particular—one was inscribed, "To Ariel, 1982" the other, 1984. The first I was just a year old, the second I had barely turned three, but I can hardly explain how vivid those books still were. The first, done in big, broad-stroke watercolors showed snow-blanketed farms, kind-eyed palomino draft horses, and a man and woman seeking shelter in a 1970's American stable. In spite of the premise, the book exudes an absolute, impenetrable stillness and warmth—I can still even hear my mom's inflection as she read certain words, though the words and story themselves remain rather vague. The same is true for the second book. Tapping into the layers of imagination and depth that I gave certain illustrations when I was a child, the emotion of the story is more vivid than either the pictures or the tale.

But if there are ghosts of Christmas' past folded into the pages of the picture books, then there are also a few hovering around the lintels. The whole place is awash with melancholia and echoes. I walked outside tonight to go to bed in the upstairs office and heard the jingle of a collar in the rose garden to my right. Out of the dripping, slimy plant skeletons I expected a furry black and white cannonball to blast— Baaaa-zaaaaaam!!—but, of course, no Luther kitty. Another fleeting individual in and out of my life, and one sorely missed.