(Two journal excerpts.)
December 6th, 2014
I was cracking the pasta, striking the match, until I reminded myself to slow down. Not everything had to be perfect for her. The comfort of my soul would be more than enough. Now the darkling windows fogged over. The only thing heating the kitchen was the aga stove; but the windows dripped with steam. The back door banged and shoes squeaked along the floor.
"Hey, Evie. How'd your fairy hotel turn out?"
"Grand. Is the pasketti ready?"
"How long do you think it'll take till they come?"
"The fairies... Oh, I don't know. Pretty soon, I'd guess. They seem to come pretty quickly. I think they must have some kind of homing device in them, or instinct, that tells them someone made a home."
"Do you think they'll ride in on horses - like tiny ones?"
"Maybe." I opened a high cabinet. "Or do you think they ride dragonflies and butterflies?"
She considered this. "No, they wouldn't, because they already have wings."
"Oh. True. Maybe caterpillars, then," I took down a glass. "Do you know what those are? - fuzzy worms?"
"Of course I know what those are." And, then - "Sarah, what is fairyland, anyway?"
My hand stopped on the cabinet knob.
She added, "I've heard people talk about it before," wistfully - like a girl in a storybook; like her line was rehearsed. I used to use that voice, too, when I was six and I wanted to be romantic and I called my mom "mother" and batted my eyelashes.
Now, I could have answered, "Where the fairies live," but my thoughts flew away until my head was an empty branch.
"Yes, people talk about it," I said.
"So what is it?"
My brain wouldn't move; nothing clicked inside of it, though its fingers stretched out to find tendrils: Eden, Rivendell, Sagolandet. My mind felt furry, my tongue thick. Anything I could say would not be gold dust. It was like being asked who God was. My primary desire to inspire was squashed by my conviction that I would be inept.
"- Well, what do you think?" I crouched down, falling back on the tactic my mother used to bat away our questions about Santa Clause.
"I don't know."
The pot of pasketti gave a gurgle.
"Do you have any ideas about it?"
"No. But I want to know what it is."
Magic, wonder, salt, survival, spider web. Acorns, sausages, eternity, creation - the pot of pasketti gave a guttural lurch. There was a sharp sloshing noise and a sizzling on the aga.
And for some reason, after I jumped up, after the scattering of dish cloths and pot tops and the salt shaker, the puttering conversation had broken and was not taken up again.
When my mind came into the quiet of the kitchen, I realized that Evie was sitting at the table, her mouth deep in her orange juice glass. She was kicking her legs, and I exhaled. I forked out the pasta and my thoughts fluttered back to their perch.
I did not use the word Fairyland when I was younger. I lived there, but I had many different names for it. I did not dream, either, about two-inch creatures with crêpe paper wings who rode hornéd snails (though I peopled the trees with things called Ipses). So I did not feel like I could tell Evie a single thing, in case the thought was not hers. I believed the best thing to do was to let her imagination work out its own constructions, crystalline and unadulterated. Whatever she came up with would be better for her than any notions I could offer.
Those were hers; mine were mine.
December 8th, 2014
Today I walked along the fuzzy line of the sea: humps of mild yellow grass, the hills blurring in flat land behind me for miles, broken only by a castle and a strangely red barn. The water pulled my face into a smile: orange, brown, again and again. It swallowed up the sand, became peach, like a globe of flowers in my room on my Confirmation day. It flared in the sun, too much: too much beauty. I looked away, down at the dogs, but they, too, were beautiful, also brown and moving. The collie dove down, curved into the sand, became it for a moment, cracking out its back, its paws kicking up into the air. I saw the wild hill, spiked like a sea-monster's crown, and on impulse I ran up it, not knowing my footing, the padding all wads of grass. The collie kicked up on her feet with a dollop of a wiggle, and she bounded after me, bobbing her head forward like a race horse in aching craziness. She passed me, and the grass ate her until she was gone; then a triangle spiked up at the top. The blackness was perked in my direction, still for a moment. The dog's sudden acknowledgement of my presence, her yearning and curiosity to see if I was still there, warmed my heart. I met her at the top. Zola then gave another dive of joy, but this time the sand was curved instead, and she went tumbling - down and down. I laughed as she rolled over, black and peach and white and green again. My body leaped to follow her, with an animal instinct, but my perfectionism held me back. "There could be cowpies down there somewhere." Cows lumber lazily through the dunes. I walked solidly down. Then the sand part of me, with the gritty sparkles, took me and shook me: "Well, then, look, you dolt." There were no cow pies. ("Anything else?" "I'd do it if someone else was here. Of course." "Don't live like you're half.") I ran back up and I rolled down. It shocked me, the sudden hit of my shoulders and head. I had thrown myself hard, wanting to feel taken over by the hill, but I wasn't prepared for the total senselessness of up or down. Black - batter - and blue and green - whack - and a cream of a cloud. I lay on my back. Then I stood up, and wandered through the dunes home. My heart zinged: perfect. But my other perfectionism was shivery, and I wondered if anyone had seen me; if someone was going to come around the corner, or had been sitting in a sand pocket. And then I wondered if I wanted that, and what would I say. And I laughed: maybe nothing. My arms hurt, and I liked that.
Trasna na dtonnta, dul siar, dul siar,
Slán leis an uaigneas ‘is slán leis an gcian;
Geal é mo chroí, agus geal í an ghrian,
Geal a bheith ag filleadh go hÉirinn.