When Reva Williams first sang to me-- not to me alone, there four or five of us sipping Turkish coffee in Abba Moses Coffee House on 16th Street-- she vocalized like she was gulping and swallowing sweet tears through the lyrics.
"Show me the picture.. Show me the letter, the one..." sang Reva. She sang like Sam Beam. Before her set, she turned down refreshment, one of Mary and Theophan's superior sprout sandwiches. Food ruined her pipes, she said. So she sang famished, I suspect. I had just run the other two members of her band to Au Bon Pain after a non-stop eight hour stint on the road. Reva sang famished and the hunger cloyed out of her quiet crooning. It stuck to me and still cloys on these cold winter days.
She sang of looking back, to look forward. The song has been my winter jingle for years now.
"Some days don’t go down easy
They stick in the throat
Its not ok that we settle and we seize on
A few shallow breaths before we choke
There’s got to be better"
Usually Indiana is a sloppy mess or grey verboten-land -- forsaken, in January. It's rarely this sparkly with snow and rarely this cold. I should be grateful that it is lovely, but it's betrayed my expectations. I was so anticipating this winter. For a few years, I was trapped at the top of the 'mountain' in Northeastern PA. I worked from home and gazed at the prison bars of silky flakes that hushed my cell. They tumbled and snarled my sneakers and my snow tires. I waited to escaped them. Last year, I looked forward to run run running my way through the first winter after a move. Mat. Rozanne Rucker said the first year after moving is like regressing. I hoped it wouldn't be, but it feels it has. I keep looking backwards, hoping to find the days that look brighter.
The whole family is feeling it. My fourteen-year old is inhaling books, like I am. She sits on one side of her room with a book propped in one fist, bouncing a rubber ball in cadence against the opposite wall. Her brother beats out books on tape and books around the house and swords and nerf guns and attacks her door. He was so brutal last week that the door is off its hinges. Another honey-do for my honey to redo.
A few tiny cockroaches flirt with this property in the upstairs bathroom, where sinks drip drip drip. Downstairs, the gable repaired before our move has betrayed us and two golf ball sized holes permit melting snow to fall like Chinese water torture while we use the lavatory downstairs. Cold wet salivating licks of winter pushing through to scalp and getting at our brains.
It's a quotidian tick tock of the winter blues. Time to read about St. Anthony the Great, who reportedly battled great demons in the hollows of his cave, weaving out his baskets and mats. Aha, the Holy Spirit uses the Church in wisdom again, to teach me.
From his Discourse on Demons:
" Let this especially be the common aim of all, neither to give way having once begun, nor to faint in trouble, nor to say: We have lived in the discipline a long time: but rather as though making a beginning daily let us increase our earnestness. For the whole life of man is very short, measured by the ages to come, wherefore all our time is nothing compared with eternal life. And in the world everything is sold at its price, and a man exchanges one equivalent for another; but the promise of eternal life is bought for a trifle. For it is written, "The days of our life in them are threescore years and ten, but if they are in strength, fourscore years, and what is more than these is labour and sorrow ."