Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice

This, of course, is Stonehenge at the moment of the summer solstice.

Yes, I know the solstice was Friday at 7:59 p.m. although I don't understand just how they calculate such things and I'm perfectly happy not understanding. Another seasons has rolled in and it's true: when you're older time seems to fly. I think there's some kind of compression phenomenon at work. When you've lived through this many solstices or equinoxes or Christmases or birthdays they seem so much closer to one another. And as I wrote already, I feel compelled by my last name [Calender] to pay attention. These days I seem to be paying attention when a new month comes. Where did May go? And here we are with June 3/4s done!

And then there are the memento mori that we start to notice. I know people who always read the obits -- I haven't got to that yet. But each mention of a passing says, pay attention. Live it all; don't waste the time; it's precious. Right now I'm in count-down phase for the vacation with my daughters -- we all are excited to be going out West, excited to see things we've never seen before, to all be together on a sort of 'girl friends" trip. But there's a week in between and that's a week not to waste by wishing it away. I always anticipate trips. The anticipation is delicious but it is never as delicious as the actual trip. Just as cooking a meal is never as good as eating it.

The best antidote to the time is flying feeling is to spend a little time saying, yes, it flew but I packed a lot into those months, years, this life. I had one of those moments in spades thanks to a stupid mistake and an adrenaline rush that followed. A good many years ago I was in Italy with a friend and had firmly in my mind that the departure date was X. When we got to the airport X day, the clerk said, "Your ticket was for yesterday!" What a nightmare! Would I have to buy a new ticket for full price? I was so shocked I put my hand on my heart as if I were having heart attack. Maybe I looked like I could collapse. I think it helps to have white hair [well, it was gray then]. The clerk took pity on us, gave us 59th minute boarding passes and sent us rushing to the gate. Upon presenting the boarding passes we discovered we were in Business Class and were almost immediately given a glass of champagne.

The adrenaline and champagne and utter astonishment of the moment made such a stew in my gray matter that tears started down my cheeks and didn't stop until we were nearly back in NYC. During those hours of a strange clarity, my brain went over every wonderful thing that had ever happened to me, a compulsive counting my blessings that became so imprinted on my memory I can still recapture the wonder and joy. And it all happened because I thought I knew the date and didn't even check the ticket -- so stupid. But if one is going to have a good high, a fantastic trip that's done without ingesting psychodeic chemicals, this was perfect.

So the seasons and years rush by faster and faster but the accumulation is wonderful and I'm looking forward to a good bit more wonder. However I don't want to rush through this week. I'll enjoy my anticipation the whole time as I make lists and start putting stuff in my bag, straightening the apartment so I can come home to neatness. It's all good, every minute of it.

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