Sunday, December 10, 2006

"It's a Wonderful Life"

My cousin wrote recently and mentioned how much of a re-reader she is. Every summer is the ritual of Laura Ingalls Wilder for her, for instance. It got me thinking about my tolerance for the familiar and the unfamiliar. In the past few years, when we decide whether or not to go camping, I always want to head out to our usual spot (which shall remain nameless here--much of its appeal is the fact that few people go!). We love it for what we know: that we can probably let the dog off-leash, that not many other campers will be there, that the blackberries will be ripe, that the lake is there just beyond the trees. We also know that there won't be potable water and showers and flush toilets, so we can come prepared. It's exactly the experience I want. And like camping, there are certain restaurants we crave, beaches and friends we visit. Etc.

But when I think about other travel, or reading, there's something else driving me to the strange. I fear that I don't have enough days in my life to accommodate returning to the same once-visited place over and over again. Monument Valley was an incredible experience, as was reading Vanity Fair. But I can't go back, there are too many other mental and physical roads to travel. How do I choose which places to revisit? This line of thought has made me yearn for another round of It's a Wonderful Life, a movie I watched every year while living in New York (along with The Quiet Man). Every viewing revealed nuances and pleasures I'd never had before. We don't have TV nowadays, so I haven't seen it for some time, and therefore I resolved to buy a copy this holiday season. But when I went looking for a DVD of it at Target tonight, it wasn't there, and now I'm worried that I *won't* be able to see it at all before Christmas. But why exactly am I worried? That my familiar won't be satisfied?


Friday was a good day for me, though it tested the limits of my introvertedness--and not incidentally, the familiar. I had organized a craft fair at the office (which I'd done before), mostly to help my mom reduce the inventory of her pottery (at least, that's what I told myself), and it was a great success. But after all that being "on," I had to make job offers to not one but two people, my first time ever! It was exciting and draining all at once. I called M and made a date to get horizontal, curl up, and pull the covers over our heads as soon as possible that evening…but I recovered enough for us to brave the downpour and go out and try a new (to us) Greek café. I was disappointed that alcohol, and therefore retsina (a fond memory of travel), was not served, but it was otherwise a soothing, carbo-rich experience. All that newness didn't seem so crazy after all.


And because I was wrapped up with the fair and the job stuff most of Friday, I didn't actually get a whole lot of work done that day. I resolved to work yesterday, Saturday, to go to the library with M, but Saturday arrived still stormy and grim, and I felt I hadn't been home much lately, so I didn't go after all…and of course didn't get much work work done, though the house is a bit better off and the cupboards are stocked. I told myself that Sunday is a whole other day to work, despite the fact that I would be going to a friend's birthday party--I wouldn't stay too long…But as the afternoon unwound and talking to good friends and eating hearty soup and walking under the threat of rain to see one of our most beautiful valleys stretching out beneath our view and the bobcat kitten trying to pounce on a meal just a few yards from us and returning to chocolate cake…work seemed a bit less important. And continued to seem less important after a trip to Trader Joe's where the purchase of a holiday wreath and small pine tree reminded me how much I love the smell of Christmas and need to bring a small piece of it into my life. I probably shouldn't have put that "Nutcracker" cd on this morning, so distracting.


At 9:48 PM, December 11, 2006, Blogger Nancy said...

I can relate to craving both the familiar and the new. I love to try new restaurants, but I'm really bad to order the same dish every time I go to a restaurant that I like. I love to travel and I love to meet and get involved with new people, but I also like to follow the exact same routine every day.


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