A typical day. I wake up whenever I want to; no one is waiting for me in an office or on a school run or at a meeting. I get up anywhere between 7 and 8:30 or 9. I could sleep all day if I wanted to. I have a great cup of fresh ground French Roast coffee that I make with a little paper filter in a cone. Some days I take it back to bed with me and read a good, trashy novel, something like Patricia Cornwall, while I sip. Coffee finished and suddenly I am looking at a free day, all the time in the world to do whatever I want to do.
So what do I do? I might plan a big dinner party, figure out a menu and shopping list. If I am having a dinner tomorrow or the next night, usually for around 20, I might spend a couple of hours on this – opening cookbooks, surfing the web for recipes, musing. Hmmm… fish or steak for the main. Mexican and Thai or Japanese and Moroccan… or maybe all four. I think back on my most recent dinners, trying to remember if there is something that was so appreciated by my guests that I’ll do it again. But my memory is so poor that unless I’ve saved a menu in my email draft file I am unlikely to remember. So I start from scratch, the whole world of culture, country and cuisine to draw from – limitless possibilities.
On other days I start with opening my computer. Well, if I’m honest, I often do a quick peek on most days before my coffee, while I’m waiting for the water to boil. But let’s say, I’m sitting on the couch and I open it. Hopefully it is after 8 am when my digital version of the New York Times hits my inbox. I go straight to the Opinion section, hoping there will be something there to sink my teeth into, an article or idea that provokes me to respond immediately so that I can weigh in before the dozens or others have already penned their comments. I love riffing around ideas, maybe science or human nature. And I love the battle that some op-ed pieces provoke. I jump in and have heated conversations with these people on other continents. And when I’m lucky I strike up an unlikely friendship with someone resonates with me on some level. The world of strangers who are yet to be my new friends is endless.
And then there are the evenings. On a good night my house is filled with lovable strangers who have somehow found my hearth. Those adventurous beings strolled through the internet and stumbled on the possibility of an evening filled with food, fun, and other fellow sparkling strangers. Those evenings are the best. I’m busy hostessing, cooking, serving, laughing, sipping, chatting… and then the dinner ends and we’ve all become friends. I start bopping my head, and within seconds of the dinner dishes being stacked in the kitchen I’m moving onto my little red dance floor, my shaggy Italian rug, completely unaware of my journey from the kitchen to this magical spot. It is usually only the flash of a second before I’m joined by one, two, four, or more and we dance until at least midnight. Who wouldn’t be happy during an evening like this? I have the freedom to organize as many of these dinners as I want.
This is surely the lifestyle of a very lucky person. I live in a beautiful house, filled with beautiful and comfortable furniture that is meant for stretching out on, sinking into, intimate conversations. I am surrounded by beautiful woodcut paintings. All of this is true. And yet, I doubt anyone would really want to have my life. My life has always been the way I just described it, filled with free days, limitless possibilities, endless strangers who are yet to be my friends and the freedom to do what I want.
I am who I have always been. But now there are limits. I am also now a mom whose son and only child died. No one would be envious of that. But on a certain level I am still doing what I love to do; it’s just in a parallel universe now. And the loss doesn’t mean that I can’t still appreciate all of the other part of me that is still me. Suddenly, like a message from above (my son up in the sky perhaps?) my iTunes starts playing Tracy Chapman’s “Change” where she sings “If you knew that love can’t break your heart, when you’re down so low you cannot fall, would you change?” …just as I write the last line. No, I guess I wouldn’t change who I am. But for me, the sky literally is my limit.