I did the Proust Questionnaire with my children. “What quality do you most admire in a man?” One said kindness and the other said moustaches. “How would you like to die?” We all agreed. Old age, in bed, dreaming. I play viola in a band. We practice Monday nights in a school music room. Last night, one of my bandmates arrived with very sad news that she wore like a tight vest. A teenager had died tragically. How will the parents make it through, we wondered before we figured out how to play the chorus of Video Killed The Radio Star.
I returned home and smoked a cigarette outside in the dark. It was the fourth anniversary of my father’s death. He smoked cigarettes until he met my mother who hated all forms of smoking. Cigars were the compromise. He called smoking a cigar taking a walk around the block. I just sort of chew on it, he explained after I told him I was scared he might die of cancer. He promised me cigars wouldn’t kill him. He was right.
When I was pregnant, strangers liked to tell me how everything would change. They were wrong. They should have told me having children is more fun than you think, and that someday your father will die and everything will change. But this is not something you say to a stranger in a grocery store.
This morning I woke up abruptly, in the middle of a dream about having to pee inside of a washing machine. After I went to the bathroom, I crawled back into bed, tucked both arms under my pillow, and listened to the kookaburras. A few minutes later, my daughter joined me. Our legs entangled, she told me my hair smelled good and my breath smelled bad. I told her everyone smells funny in the morning. We’ve all just returned from adventures, I explained. Some of us flew to the top of skyscrapers, while others relieved themselves in washing machines.
In 1890, Proust provided an answer to one of his questions, “Where would you like to live?” He said, “In a country where certain things that I should like would come true as though by magic, and where tenderness would always be reciprocated.”
Reading through these posts is a gift. I am thankful that you’ve ensured that this time is not lost.