There’s no way I’m going into my 68th year with unpainted toes. So I find the old bottle of deep, serious red polish from the medicine cabinet at our house on Lake Superior, a place where we have one of everything that is absolutely necessary for a good life like blue dye for tie-dyed shirts and a stand-up chicken roaster so you don’t have to perch your chicken on a can of beer which is both unseemly-looking and wasteful and an impossibly long skewer so even the most frightened child can roast a marshmallow.
So I start with the polish and, of course, it goes everywhere because I’ve already had two glasses of wine while sitting in the sun with my husband talking politics but only after he reassured me about my age by saying, “It’s okay that we’re getting older because we’re doing it together,” which I thought was a lovely and comforting thing to say, especially since I don’t worry that much about getting older anyway. Time passes whether I like it or not but most days I’m fine if there is some sunshine and something decent for dinner. I don’t rue, regret or belabor the past nor do I worry much about the future although some rough facts about what is likely to come as I seriously age are testing me on that front.
All the while I was drinking wine in the sun, when I wasn’t engaged in high level political analysis with my husband, I was thinking about this blog post and how it would be about the finest moments in my life, or, at least, one fine moment. Maybe there should be a series, I thought, but then the idea floated out to sea.
But now I remember the moment or one of them. It strikes me as a gift to be able to put one’s finger squarely on a perfect moment and I deserve a gift since it is almost my birthday. My gift to myself is this moment from many years ago.
My older daughter came to visit us in Grand Marais. She had been wrestling with several knots in her life and was tired so she came from California and we picked her up in Marquette and we drove to our house here on Lake Superior and we had ourselves a weekend, just the three of us. It had been a long time since it had been the three of us even though that’s how we’d started out; the addition of three other children had made for a crowd whenever we were together. We stood on tiptoes and waved across the throng, a secret, knowing wave but it was never enough and we all knew that.
So the weekend with the three of us was precious although we probably didn’t know it at the time.
We launched our little 19′ powerboat in the Grand Marais harbor. We were new boaters so launching was much drama, though not as much as pulling the boat out, and so it was a shared adventure of the sort we hadn’t had in many years. We ran the boat like the devil up along the shore to the dunes of the Pictured Rocks and it was one of those ‘glad to be alive’moments that if I’d died right then, it would have been fine. It would turn out to be the only time we took that boat on to Lake Superior, deciding to bring it back to Milwaukee to be a river boat, but it was glorious beyond words so maybe once was enough.
After the boat trip, we came home and sat at a table on the corner of our deck and ate hard boiled eggs and smoked whitefish on crackers. We drank wine and ate eggs. We drank wine and ate whitefish. We talked and laughed. We sorted out complicated things, untied a few knots. The sun went lower in the sky, then it set and then it was dark. And the time for dinner was past but we didn’t care because we were full of eggs and whitefish. It was the perfect time. And I was there.
So getting older, one has to choose how to think about those perfect times. It can be with yearning, wanting things always to be how they were that night. Or it can be with a sense of great good fortune, like a diamond in the jewelry box that you didn’t deserve but someone gave to you anyway.
I land on the side of diamonds. But that might just be the wine talking.