Over the weekend, we all went to a famous person’s party. I believe this now makes us all famous by extension.
The house was (I imagine it still is) grand and spacious, tastefully anointed with signed art on the wall, sleek modern furniture sprinkled about the vast sea of hardwoods peppered with handsome area rugs. Everything was newly done: new painted, newly remodeled, newly exposed, newly tiled, newly fabricked. The drawers in the kitchen floor to ceiling cabinets, designed by the hostess, gently and silently pulled themselves to a close with only the merest touch of the fingertips. How thoughtful of them.
There was a violent absence of clutter.
A shelf in the library displayed six Emmys. Three Caldecott Honor Awards hung on a nearby wall. The third floor office space had a conference room, sitting area surrounded by all his many many books, and multiple work stations.
The host and hostess were very lovely and gracious. Their 7-year old daughter breezed in and out of her room where hordes of children (Fluffy among them) were pawing through her closet and shelves for toys.
In the star-struck category, I’d put myself squarely in the middle. I don’t fall to the floor and beg them to autograph my arm and I don’t breeze by, pretending they don’t fascinate me anymore than my pharmacists.
They do fascinate me.
It’s not the giant house or the loads of cash or even the shelf-full of awards. It’s wondering how it feels to be doing what you love and having that thing responded to, financially, so you don’t have to engage in long discussions with your husband about whether it’s okay to buy a holiday outfit or recover the couch since the materials you chose turns out to be hideous and scratchy and quite possibly made of plastic.
I’m still friendless here. Have I mentioned? I did my best to mix it up at the party; many of the attendees were my neighbors, after all. I had a very nice chat with the woman who lives across the street—we’ve had fun chats before. When she asked how it was going here for me, I said, Well, we love the area and things are mostly fine but I don’t have any friends here yet and I’m lonely for a pal! and she looked away and said, Yeah. Well, it takes a while and nothing more.
Fluffy, ever famous in my eyes, was a star. He navigated the tides of guests, small and large, slipped up and down the front and back staircases, helped himself to the bathrooms behind nearly every door, and found us when he needed something, a drink, more salami chunks, another brownie. Dave and I took turns keeping tabs on him but for the first time, this involved long stretches when he was out of sight. We would find him, spy, confirm that he was fine (and he always was, once kindly sharing a toy with a little girl, another time, playing on his own, another time, playing playmobile with a boy, another time, giggling on the back stairs with two other children) and then go back to the grown-ups.
UNHEARD OF A YEAR AGO.
I would never have been in a new house filled with assorted children and let Fluffy out of my sight for even an instant.
I can’t say Fluffy is my work. He is my son. I don’t make little statues out of clay representing each year’s achievements. I don’t create his progress. Yet, the work of the last four years of my life has been about clearing the stream so his waters can flow.
But you know the funny part? Most of the clearing has been inside my own waters, slipping on rocks, hauling debris, plucking out dead things, liberating others tangled but still alive, in waters up to my waist or in rivers dry as a bone, but always within my own banks.