this little light

I found a sewing machine.  It was next to the dumpster in my apartment building, in a battered carrying case, nestled amongst a broken lamp and stack of old books.  It might have been robin’s egg blue, now scuffed into a cloudy mint colour.  I hauled it away and, having no room in my apartment for it, stashed it in the trunk of my car (which was a hand-me-down gift from a friend: a noisy 1995 robin’s egg blue Toyota, the apple of my eye).

I laid my hands on the top of the machine and imagined myself at a big wooden table, fixing my partner’s shirt.  I could hear the whir of the needle and bobbin, feel my foot flex on the pedal as my hands expertly controlled the tension of the fabric.  I imagined myself learning everything I can from my mother, who has been sewing for decades, making clumsy replicas of her beautiful garments.  With my mint miracle I make new things.  A new pillow sham to brighten up the living room.  A tote bag for my friend.  A new blouse.

I sit, for a moment, palms resting on my vision.  And then I shut the trunk and walk away. I’ll probably never have enough space for it.

These days, I try to let things go.

The other morning I woke up to the feeling of sun on my face.  There’s nothing like it.  Even through my gauzy white curtains, the light was warm and bright.  I felt myself shimmering with a bliss I have no words to properly describe.  Then the sun rose a little higher, and I got up and started my day.

These days, I’m trying to think of hope as a sunbeam, not a lighthouse.  I used to hang my hopes on the future as a beacon, as a fixed point on the horizon. I don’t think that’s so helpful now.  Now I hang my hopes on writing postcards and the cookies turning out alright, on ‘maybe next year, but it’s nice to hear your voice’.

I savour cups of coffee, fresh fruits, cheap wine, like it’s the last time.  I take nothing for granted.  I feel attachment wrapping its tentacles around my heart, like the sick feeling I get when I imagine the day I turn the key in my robin’s egg Toyota and she doesn’t wake up.  I let that go too.

These days, there is too much to want.  In some ways even my most modest dreams seem impossible now.  But when I take time to feel the sun on my face, this little life is holding more than I could have imagined. And I try, I try to let that be enough.

When I let go of my lighthouse, even in the middle of the crashing ocean I become aware of the salty air and the sight of the mountains.  I might feel adrift, but it gives me room to make some new realizations about what I was always told was untrue – that growing old is a gift. That having nothing to do is sometimes an incredible privilege.

For now, whenever I get the chance I’ll drive my noisy car to the ocean just to see it, and when the car breaks down I’ll bike, and when the path gets flooded I’ll stand where it’s safe and look from there, and maybe I’ll lay my hands on the earth and remember the sun on my face that one time. 

And that will be my lighthouse, for a moment.

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