Thursday, November 27, 2014


My thanksgiving started last night with a fig. Just an ordinary fig, snatched from its bowl as I made a mental list of All That Must Be Done. Only when I bit into it, it turned out to be heaven in my hand. The best fig I think I've ever had. Practically perfect--no, better than perfect: the Platonic Ideal of a fig.

The colour was deep and rich. The taste sweet and aromatic. The weight on my palm just right. Figs have been around for much of human history. They are symbolic, for me, of life lived one step beyond survival. They haven't changed much in thousands years. They don't need to.

So I immediately set my To Do list aside, and sat, and enjoyed that fig. And that's when I started to feel very glad to be alive, very consciously thankful for so much.

This is my first (non-doped up) Thanksgiving as a US citizen. It seemed worth writing down my top three gratitudes:

  • Kelley. Always Kelley. We've had a hell of a year, good and bad, but even the good bits--and trust me, there were many good bits--were tremendously hard involving mountains of work. And Kelley has been right there at my side, and I at hers. We've travelled more this year than I can remember--including four transatlantic flights and more transcontinental ones than I can shake a stick at.
  • Systems. One of the reasons all that travel didn't send us to the hospital (well, no more than a couple of times) is that airlines and airports seem to have smoothed out many of their practical and administrative systems. Our bags didn't get lost once. We miss any planes due to waiting for wheelchair service. We didn't get bumped off any planes. We were mostly on time apart from (several) acts of weather. Thanks to ubiquitous GPS we didn't get lost in any strange cities and thanks to ubiquitous credit card service we didn't have to keep hoofing it to the ATM. The hotels always ended up giving us what we wanted. The hospitals and clinics, too, have been jaw-droppingly efficient. So compared to how this kind of travel could have gone: amazing.
  • Family and friends. We hit some serious bumps this year (you know some of the health stuff). And friends and family were magnificent. We couldn't have done any of what we did without help, and lots of it, and you offered it not only without a murmur but with active pleasure. You know who you are. Thank you.
I'm grateful for much more, of course: for the kindness of strangers, for the magnificent summer and autumn weather in all those places we visited, for the booksellers and publishers and readers who helped made Hild such a success, for our neighbours, for my phone, for Dropbox; for the delicious Rioja I'll be drinking this afternoon, the chocolate cloud cake I can smell baking as I type, the wonderful story I'll be treating myself to reading this evening.

I could go on. Later, over dinner with Kelley, I will. But for now I'm grateful to you, dear reader, for being on this planet and taking the time to occasionally privilege those troublesome little things called words. Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.
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