Monday, July 27, 2015

Drunken Birthday Blogging

Now that I have your attention, let me modify that title a bit: Slightly Tipsy Day-Before-My-Birthday Blogging

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.)

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