Even with those qualifiers, it's probably not advisable to be putting fingers on the keyboard at this time of the evening with the Blogger window open on the laptop and a purple-pink hazy sky fading to blue in the west. It's the eve of my annual July 28 birthday, which, yeah, comes around every year.
But better I should be writing here at The Perverse Lutheran than opening up and working on files that were carefully and closely honed and edited this afternoon, yesterday, Saturday. I could do some real damage that would have to be repaired tomorrow, on my real birthday.
It's my blog and I'll say what I want to. Forty-five minutes from now I can choose whether or not to click Publish. And I can always take this down tomorrow morning and do the necessary repairs to my reputation, should that be, um, necessary.
Went out for a birthday dinner with my mother and my two younger children this evening. Had two pints of beer, a Krumbacher Pils, which son Kurt informed is what homeless guys drink from paper bags under bridges in Germany, followed by a Revolution Anti-Hero, which is my fave, what I should have ordered the first time. Two pints is one over my usual limit. I'm not sure if the problem is that alcohol affects me quickly, because I am a woman of slow metabolism, or that I have so little psychological tolerance for letting my guard down.
Van Morrison was playing on the radio on the ride home, kind of a basic identity thing in this family, and I was drawn back to younger days and to the part of myself that was more free, more confident, more certainly loved. More able to enjoy a summer night. A creative force, more able to speak with authority about the world and life and love. Not more right, not wiser, just more able.
"Who am I supposed to be here?" I ask myself. Quick change to patient mother as Eliza asks a question. Quick change to faithful friend as I read my email. Pose as spiritually conscious blogger when I wander over to the Perverse Lutheran. Who am I when I finally tumble into bed at night and bury myself in a novel? Who am I when I walk in the door at work in the morning and put on the cheery/ironic/smart face I wear on the job?
Am I the ever-widening bottom that sits in an easy chair in the backyard, for hours on end with a book, a notebook or the computer? Am I the woman who every now and then gets to walk really fast, because she's going somewhere all alone?
It's a summer night. Maybe that's why I ask these questions. The air is gentle, humid, caressing. Even at 9 p.m. you can still see the clouds and all the texture in the sky. I'm a child of summer, born in late July, who grew that one year older in between school years, when no one could see except the characters in the books I read, and my own precious self.
From James Agee's "Knoxville Summer of 1915":
After a little I am taken in, and put to bed.
Sleep, soft, smiling draws me unto her,
and those receive me, who quietly greet me
as one familiar and well-beloved in that place.
But will not, not now, not ever—
But will not ever tell me who I am.
I'm okay with that mystery.
(Samuel Barber set this text to music. Listen here to Sylvia McNair. Or to the original performer, Eleanor Steber.)