Eating a bowl of milky oatmeal porridge on a cold morning. Thanks to the bout of facial neuralgia, my reflection in the mirror looks like a lumpy moon made of green cheese. The dogs don’t care, they love me anyway.
No news yet about my housemate’s medical tests, so we go on as if this was just another ordinary week. I’m reading a review of a memoir written by a man who flew halfway across America in search of his lost cat and then wrote about it.
I wrote a short essay about looking for Biscuit and it quickly became apparent that I was also writing about my love for my wife, and my fears about my marriage, which hadn’t collapsed but had cracks spreading across its surface. I didn’t want to write about the marriage directly—I wanted to treat it obliquely. And I didn’t want the essay to be strictly autobiographical. To put it another way, I wanted it to be about something more than my own immediate circumstances, which were limited and subject to change. In a sense, what the essay was really about was the feeling of being in danger of losing the thing you loved. This is something everybody feels from time to time. Babies feel it.
My days shaped by meditation, writing and reading. Work. Conversations with friends, Washing up, watering plants, cooking comfort food (macaroni cheese!), making sharp fresh winter salads with fennel, endives and red onions. Playing with dogs, writing letters, paying bills. One foot in front of the other, one thought after the other.
“Just this. Just this, this room where we are. Pay attention to that. Pay attention to who’s there. Pay attention to what isn’t known there. Pay attention to what is known there. Pay attention to what everyone is thinking or feeling; what you’re doing there. Pay attention. Pay attention.”
- W. S. Merwin
Distilling the writing down from several notebooks to a few pages onscreen, not hurrying. One sentence after another, one word in place of another. The craft and discipline that sometimes feels as if it comes naturally and sometimes not.
Trachtenberg the cat-man again:
I don’t want to say what love is. Certainly a kind of selfless delight in the other is an aspect of love. But so much goes into love, including all the sewage of the psyche. We’re cruel, we’re narcissistic, we’re creatures of ruthless appetite, but sometimes we can take simple, open-eyed delight in the presence of another being.