My hands smell of evergreen sap now.
I've spent the past fifteen minutes affixing plastic-stemmed pine cones to a magnificent balsam fir wreath. The wreath arrived, amazingly enough, the day after I discovered my artificial wreath missing. I came home from work to find a large white box in front of my door, and in it, a grand, old-fashioned wreath made of thick evergreen branches from Maine. My friend Heather, now in Moscow, toiling away at the place where we first met (and where she once was my boss), had it sent from a small company near her parents' home in Maine. I opened the box immediately and unwrapped the great Victorian circle from its plastic wrap and breathed in the gorgeous scent.
I meant to put the wreath on my balcony a couple of nights ago, but the heady smell of balsam has been intoxicating, and I like coming home to that flood of fresh tree when I open the door. Tonight I finally added the bits and bobs to the wreath, and I will put it on the balcony in the morning, so I can see it each night as I arrive home. A welcoming sight. A homecoming.
I will try to call Heather tomorrow in Russia and tell her how much this meant this year.
It has been an emotional week, and the coming week will be full of small sparks and moments, too. I've been very grateful to the Sasquatch and the lovely Scandahoovian for sharing some of their very precious limited time with me in recent days. They are a pretty damn great couple. Although she will be slightly annoyed, I will say it was the lovely Scandahoovian's birthday this week. And I hope she had a very fine one, indeed, in the company of my dear arboreal friend. The Sasquatch and the Scandahoovian have been generous and kind and supportive of me in so many ways, and there is no way I can adequately express my gratitude here. I'll just have to offer up a virtual hug to them both and hope they know how much it all means to me.
On Wednesday, I was feeling fairly down and lonely (and quite possibly coming down with the stomach bug that's vexing me today), and I stayed at work until 8:30, just trying to focus on papers, papers, papers to keep my mind off my singular sense of aloneness. I left the office to find the city in a fog, and with my impaired night driving, I slowly crept home to Bethesda, slightly jumpy at every turn. I found myself pulling up to my favorite tiny Thai joint at 9 o'clock and stopping in for a plate of spicy noodles. I was the only customer, and they brought me a Thai iced tea on the house, probably because I greeted them in Thai with a wai and chatted with the bored waiters for a few minutes. But in the end, I wasn't really hungry. I was just lonely. I took my food home for lunch the following day.
My building was bathed in fog when I arrived home. But still, in the hanging mist, at the top of the stairs, I could see an enormous box leaning against my apartment door. I was baffled. This thig was humungous. Ginormous. It was, simply, pretty awesomely huge. And it had a UPS tag. It had been mailed from Colorado.
And then, my brain started to put two and two together.
And I cried.
A couple of months back, I started to put some things up for auction on eBay in order to help finance my ongoing eye injections. (And let me tell you, it's a laugh riot. Bring on those needles! Whoo-hoo!) I parted ways with two vintage Thomas Dolby posters, from the days when he was my big crush - that blond Englishman with the great little glasses and the fabulous electronic pop hooks and... and... swoon. The crush is over, but I still adore him. And it was painful and sad to divest myself of these things. But you can't look at posters if you're blind. So, eBay it was.
A bidding war ensued over one of the posters - a stranger bidding against my friend Beth in Colorado. In the end, Beth was victorious, and I was delighted the poster would go to such a lovely person. Through a Thomas Dolby mailing list, I've known Beth for more than a decade now. We've met in person once in all that time, but e-mail has a way of compressing space and time, and I've watched her kids grow in Christmas photos that make me wonder just how much older I've grown, myself. I sent the poster to Beth with every good wish and all the gratitude in the world, and told her she should take it to an upcoming Dolby concert (two, actually) in Colorado for him to autograph for her. I even sent Dolby e-mail mentioning she'd likely be there poster in hand.
But what I didn't know, what I could not have known, was that Beth had Dolby sign the poster to her...
...and to me.
The box outside my door? It was my lovely old poster, signed, with love, from Thomas, and beautifully, magnificently matted and framed. I bawled like a baby. I stood in the entryway of my apartment, in a sea of packing peanuts, looking at this lovely thing, reading the lovely letter Beth wrote to go with it, and I just cried until I couldn't make any sound.
What good fortune I have. What wonderful friends around me! I find words failing me more and more lately. I just know I am lucky.
My friend Cynicsgirl has been hunting down geneaology of my mother's family this week, too. Each time I open my e-mail, there is another gem of information and names, some hazy in my memory, some unknown, that appear to delight me. What a Christmas gift this has been!
And this coming week, I will go to Baltimore with the Sasquatch and our dear friend Gonzomantis - my favorite Nebraskans - and we will see the lovely Lunesse and Thomas, and I will give them both big hugs of gratitude and appreciation. And I hope Beth will know those hugs are for her, too.
Today, I saw a magnificent photo of the Northern Lights over Oslo, snapped by Rarity, a very talented woman in Norway, over on the blog of another very talented Norwegian friend, Scholiast. The timing was marvelous. I had been talking to the Sasquatch and the Scandahoovian about seeing the Northern Lights on my polar route flights from New York to Moscow years ago - how unearthly they looked outside the window of a jumbo jet. I remembered how the stars were so magnificent shining through the shimmering, shifting curtain of the Aurora Borealis.
And I have been thinking of those stars tonight. My friends are like those stars in my life, which is shifting now, shimmering and unpredictable, with dark spots and sudden bursts of light.
You are my brilliant stars. I thank you all.
My wonderful friend Dariush told me today is blog crush day - where you write about the bloggers you have a crush on (for their blogging, mind you!) And while I haven't written about any blog crushes, I hope my friends see this as a love letter to you all.
And to my friend and benefactress, the good Dr. B in California? I'll give you a hug in your own time zone early next year!
My hands still smell of balsam sap. I think that's a lovely bit of aromatherapy for sleeping tonight.
Sleep - and the last few minutes of the Return of the King on TNT - calls.