splash a bit, or float aimlessly

Oh dear blog (and those unfortunate few who read you) forgive me, will you, for abandoning you. I do have my reasons.

It is summer, you see, and my house has been transformed into an endless sleepover, my concerns no longer how many pages I’ve written or how many paragraphs I’ve cut but whether or not I have enough turkey for sandwiches and how-oh-how to entice them away from their screens long enough to spark a bit of conversation.

The conversations? They come, despite the screens. They are in three languages and the sounds bounce around my backyard zipping around the fireflies and the bats. The laughter is all in one common language, as are the smiles. There is a ten-year difference from littlest to oldest and only one boy, who zooms in and out like pinches on a touchscreen.

Visitor #2 has arrived with her ooh-la-la Frenchness. At 18 she exudes sophisto-cool and intelligence yet is sweet as a chocolate croissant. She smells so amazingly good I had to force myself from her room, wanting so badly to roll in her clothing like a joyful puppy and inhale deeply, deeply, to capture that lovely smell. France has a certain smell, and it is not just perfume, or laundry detergent. It is clean and fresh and like a cipher it unlocks a flood of memories.

I have finally finished Wild, which like all journeys worth taking took its own sweet time. Cheryl Strayed straps her boots on our feet and while we can never truly walk in them we do get close to sharing with her some of her steps.

The best advice I found about this book is to read it as the words of Cheryl, not Sugar, her Rumpus columnist persona.

Not that they are two separate people; the woman we meet in Wild is simply balancing on a point earlier in the timeline of her life. It is through the messiness of living that Strayed becomes the sage woman who has crossed the mountain and can now call out to us in a voice crisp and lovely, at times painfully honest, in her Dear Sugar columns.

I am excited to read Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things when it comes out next week, although I’m sure many of the essays are ones I’ve read, if not from the weekly Rumpus columns then from that afternoon marathon upon which I embarked soon after I discovered her when I devoured months and months of her words back to back. She made me cry more than once, and she will again, no doubt. This will be one of those books you’ll want to share.

In the meantime I’ve pulled an old favorite from my shelves to begin (or re-begin, as I read it long ago), Maps by Nuruddin Farah, the first of his trilogy Blood in the Sun.

Perhaps it was my trip to DC and the many Somali faces I saw that reminded me of him, of the beauty and delicate lines of his words. Honestly I remember little of this book other than that it moved me profoundly, as did a few of his other works which I read one after another (Sardines, comes to mind, as does Sweet and Sour Milk). It was awhile ago and my memory is memorably flawed, so time to refresh it.

I am a bit weary of always following the current buzz like a little lemming and am visiting my own bookshelves before I jump to the next hot thing, or at least alternating between them and my local bookstore. If we all read the same things and see the same images and listen to the same music what a boring group we will be.

Summer is a great time to splash a bit, or to float aimlessly, or both.

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