Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.
Today, I looked up, and found love, in a snapshot, sitting on my countertop.
Thursday afternoon, cleaning my flat. Lush and bright and green outside, slowly making progress on the year-old dust inside. I'm watering plants and putting spices away and wiping down counters and throwing out rotten kale and stashing the olive oil in the liquor cabinet and wondering when I missed the memo about being a legit grown-up which means having matching dishware and a full range of wine glasses appropriate for every varietal. And, in the process, I look up from that stainless steel sink-scrubbing, and stand back, and wipe my bangs out of my eyes with the back of my hand, and in one sigh, this still love-life of sorts comes alive in front of me, pulsing with handcrafted presence and time.
You know how I feel about making things, about baking things, about embodied sensuous labor being a kind of yoga, really, a practice, an expression of bhakti. Shopping, gift-giving is so overrated. I really dislike it. [Ok, I fucking hate it. Especially the obligatory kind.]
But this? This?
With this, well, in one breath, one glance, people rush right back to you over the years, over the moments, over the miles.
I'm feeling very simple these days, simple and quiet and light, wanting to empty, wanting to let go of a lot. And as I stood there in that moment, breath hushed, staring at that collection of sweetnesses from my various sweets, my heart jumped into my throat, and I felt them dear, and near, in spite of the distance
I was never a big "things" person, but I find, especially as I get older, even more, watching friends grow ill and die, watching the seasons change with more awareness of time passing, I don't want any more jewelry, I don't want your Prada and your Gucci, and I really don't think your sportscar's a striking metaphor for your sexual prowess.
I know, I have seen firsthand, that all of those things will fade away. They'll pass. Impermanence, kids. Every little thing.
But these gifts? They're just you. Your hands. Your time. Your breath.
Your prana — your life force.
in the form of homemade ginger preserves and Meyer lemon rosemary chutney, from Sarah and Elysa, shipped up for Christmas from Los Angeles.
in the form of marmalade sunkissed and wrapped by Erik and Zoe in their design-magazine-worthy Oakland bungalow with the great secret garden.
in the form of sweet and dill pickles canned by Matt and Melissa, 3000 miles away on Long Island, two summers ago. (I can't bear to eat them.)
in the form of a babycakes cookbook, shipped from Delaware courtesy of ever-thoughtful Toni, mama of Rachel Lynn and Clara Mae and Norah Grace, three of my four precocious young goddaughters.
in the form of wildflowers from my most-amazing mister, carefully packed into the vintage benz and chauffered down winding roads into the city from Point Reyes.Simplicity. Over and again.
The richer for it.
Presence doesn't have to look like bodies together in a room. It can be so much more, this. It can just be the barely-lingering memory of a moment in time, packaged, shipped, hauled, savored, remembered.