A Hope Chest of Light Keeping

Red, Blue and Purple

“You know those days when you get the means reds?’
‘Same as the blues?’
‘No,’ she said slowly. ‘No, the blues are because you’re getting fat or maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid, and you sweat like hell, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don’t know what it is. You’ve had that feeling?’
‘Quite often. Some people call it angst.’
‘All right. Angst. But what do you do about it?’
‘Well, a drink helps.’
‘I’ve tried that. I’ve tried aspirin, too. Rusty thinks I should smoke marijuana, I did for a while, but it only makes me giggle. What I’ve found does the most good is to just get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind of men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.”
― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I had a really irritating day Saturday. There was nothing that went wrong, but I was in a funk as soon as I woke up and I couldn’t figure out why. Sometimes I find that asking myself that question only leads me down a path of more aggravation. Perhaps more time spent asking myself “how can I bring myself comfort?” Instead of “why do I feel this way?” would be helpful. Who knows, I’ll give it a try sometime.

But anyway, I was feeling out of sorts. I couldn’t tell you if it was the mean reds, the blues or a combination of both–the deep purples perhaps?

Let me fist say this: I live a very wonderful life. I have the opportunity to slow down and change paths, right my sails, and figure out how to move forward. Not everyone has this. I know I am lucky. I know how lucky it is not to have to be on the go-go-go all the time. I find myself shifting and changing so often, in moments, it’s hard to catch up to myself. Sometimes though, the shifts are delicate and the internal work feels like the same monotonous journey of fear and worry. However,again I say I am very luck and very grateful of this season of days to myself.

Katie says that if you spend all day worrying about the existential crisis of who you are and where you are going you will drive yourself mad, best to be busy. Best to keep moving, no matter how slow. My friend Ben says the greatest counter weight to worry is action. What can you do, in this moment, to make it better. I agree with them both. They are both right.

But we all have those days when we wake up and think: “Uh, this again? Make the bed, get the tea, do the work out, water the flowers, clean the room, go to work, write the blog, learn the monologue, find the man, buy the house, explore the forest, plant the crop, read the book, take the class, turn the lights on, turn the lights off, go to bed.” You know, some combination of those things.

I couldn’t think of a thing to do to get me out of my funk until I found a bag of apples in the fridge. Red. I decided I was going to make a crumble. The day might not get better, but the promise of something delicious did make me perk up a bit. So I started the journey of slicing and peeling the apples. I turned on a podcast and found a rhythm. Peel, peel, peel, peel, slice, slice, squeeze lemon juice, peel, peel, peel, peel, slice, slice, squeeze the lemon juice. And over and over and over. Once the fruit was done, I found blueberries and added those. Blue. I added the sugar, more lemon juice, flour, vanilla and cinnamon. I didn’t use a recipe. I used my taste buds and sense of whimsy. I crumbled up butter and sugar and flour and spices and oats and kneaded the whole thing in my Mom’s big cookie baking bowl. I took my time, I was not overly cautious. I did what I needed to do, until before me sat a very attractive crumble. And when I was done and it was all baked into a comforting bruised purple. I felt better. Not perfect, no answers were given to me by my subconscious or by the heavens. But I did feel a little more peaceful and a little accomplished at the very least.

The rest of my day my hands smelled like butter and cinnamon even after I had showered. That was a little gift, one I didn’t know was coming, one that made me smile every time I would bring my hands to my face.

In regards to the taste, the crumble turned out to be a little tart. Ah well, more sugar next time and by the way, it certainly wasn’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever baked. But that wasn’t it’s point. The necessity of baking this weekend was to take my melancholy and aid it with action. It did that. I took all the red and blue and made purple. I didn’t try to change it, fix it or get rid of it. I tried to work with it, kneed it, feel it, sit with it and then bake it. It worked, it was a small action but a mighty one in this case. Like the crumble. Like my heart. Like the smell of butter and cinnamon on your hands long after you’ve washed it away. Not matter how tart a day may seem, a little sweetness (be it fruit based or other wise) will always help ease the ache.

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