Spuds texts from his friend's cousin's house in Tel Aviv. He is sensitive about imposing on strangers anyway but now he has dysentery. He wants to come home. I know that he is in no shape to travel so re-booking his return flight is out of the question. I look into fares from L.A. to Israel, thinking to go rescue the lad, but the prices are stratospheric. I talk, er, text, him through it and now he is recovered and having fun exploring Eilat. Even though he is an independent 19, having booked his trip and planned his itinerary by himself, it is hard on me to have him sick and so very far away. I'm glad I sat tight and didn't play the “money is no object when my kid is sick” card. It's starting to sink in that the kids are now young adults and more able to deal with their own crap. I will be bailing them out with less frequency. It comforts me to know that while they need and are with me less often, that it is wonderful to spend the little time that we do have with the people they've become.
The New Year's resolutions are holding. I've eaten meticulously and logged about seven miles a day on the Fitbit. My writing project is taking shape and thinking about it is satisfying. It's sort of, “oh duh,” but I am reminded that when I exercise, don't eat like I'm headed to the chair and fritter way time with mindless TV, I am happier. Despite this awareness it puzzles me how easy it is to slip into a morass of gluttony and indolence. But of course I'm less than two weeks into the new year.
I touched last week about how adult happiness is so much more fleeting than grief. Our hurts are so concrete and the sting festers. Contentment is so much more ephemeral. Actually, I am comfortable most of the time but I am so routinized that I don't pay much attention. When the kid is sick or I'm about to miss a deadline on a tax return, it's big and in my face. The awareness of how agreeable my life is is less in the forefront than it should be.
We march through the rituals of an ancient marriage. The table is set. The floors are swept. Sunday is laundry day. Friday's there are candles and challah. For the most part we've learned to avoid provocation. The things we hate about each other are never going to change. Ever. Manacled together for a quarter of a century we are beaten down. We avoid conflict and take each other for granted. Perhaps this is the secret to a successful marriage but I don't think about it very often. I don't focus much at all about the familiarities and rituals that, for the most part, are my life. A bit of upheaval consistently usurps the undercurrent sensation of well being. Driving by the reservoir one day, out of nowhere, I am overwhelmed by a feeling of tenderness for Himself. If I'd ever felt this strongly before I think I'd remember but perhaps its been banished out of consciousness like all the other fleeting sensations of affection or pleasure. So I hope by recording this surprising blast of love that I can savor it a bit longer.
Illustration: A Machine for Living: Untitled Dan Holdsworth