Simplicity is Where Happiness Begins
We Chisel Away at the Monster
We know by now that turning our backs on it is futile. So we chisel away, day after day, rain or shine. Through barely parted fingers and squinted eyes the shadows seem much larger than they are. So we look. Really look. We invite the monster for tea and it sits and drinks and sits and drinks and we talk. We drink and talk and drink and talk and by morning there’s nothing but empty tea cups and crumbs from biscuits, and an empty chair, where it once sat.
played on the radio as night fell on old town Annecy. Upbeat guitar, a french man singing about dreams. Nostalgia. Rice and lentils cooked slowly on the gas stove with fragrant mustard chicken. Laundry spun monotonously in the washer until it stopped, and I hung it on the line to dry. The air is pure here. It heals. Simplicity is where happiness begins.
I wake up to a different sound. A baby screaming on the stairwell (like something’s really gone awry). A man’s heavy voice blasting from a massive speaker mounted atop a car (oh how it reminds me of those Fridays in Jerusalem with a man’s voice just like this one, only shouting in a different tongue). Construction workers hammering away at a house (normal-sized house, mind you, not New York sized. How refreshing.).
With barely awakened arms I roll up the wooden blinds as quickly as I can. Quickly, quickly I roll, as if another second in this man-made darkness will suffocate. The air, the sun, the bird songs rush in a gust. They fill the room with clarity I only dreamed of in hectic cities across the ocean. In the distance (not too far, just beyond some rooftops) Alps, some green, some peaks covered in snow. Sometimes a thick fog fills their crevices; sometimes you can see further, further, further…
On a green bar stool at the wooden countertop we drink coffee. Instant. Soy Milk for me. Sometimes I eat black currant jam from the jar with a teaspoon. It’s noon. “We have no will power,” he says. We laugh.
There Are Days
when the sun has just begun to think about setting later, that I take my ten pound book about an ancient cathedral, tragedies, & love affairs, and walk to the lake. Down Chemin des Cloches, left on Avenue de France, and it’s a straight shot to the water. It’s heavy, this book, but it comforts me. I juggle it from hand to hand, elbow crease to elbow crease, while my free hand presses the phone to my ear and I speak to my dearest friend. Smiles. Laughter. He complains about the breeze making it hard to hear. I tell him to get over it.
I always plan on reading my book when I get to the lake. On bright green grass I lean against a tree, branches grazing the water. But alas we speak, and speak some more. Engulfed in another universe I watch people walk by. Ducks fish in the water. Shadows move the sun spots away from me. I chase them. I revel in those moments.
Then it gets too cold, and I walk back. Juggling my book from hand to hand, elbow crease to elbow crease, still speaking to my dearest friend, still on page 139 of 1024.