It was Joan Didion’s birthday yesterday. She titled an entire collection, We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live. She is always true. There are those stories we tell to others when we meet in a hotel bar with red wine and deciding which pieces we put on the table. There are the ones we tell ourselves to fall asleep, and the ones we point at to map out ourselves. There is the one I tell about why it didn’t work, which always changes and I’m not sure any of them are true. There are the stories we never tell at all.
It’s snowing in Boise right now, the first snow of the winter and I’m telling myself all the stories of the first snow during those years. I have a strong memory of being at a house party my first year and drunk on cheap beer and watching the first snow from the living room window lit by a street light on the corner. I hadn’t seen a first snow since I was kid, since before California and all those years in the sun. I miss the kitchen at the 12th street house and looking out the back window. I miss writing at my table and watching the snow through the skylight. Winter did something for me back there.
I wonder what right now’s story might look like in sometime from now. I wonder what I might look like. I’m working on telling the truth to every one all the time, keep the load light, keep the eyes clear, and all that. But, what I really want is that kind of quiet you can only get during a snow. It’s so silent you can almost hear the crystals touch. I want that and I want a story to go with it that might be able to tell me something. I’m interested in what the stories we tell to live say about the way we are living.
During last year’s first snow I wrote this: There is a difference, and I do not know what it is; between having a good life and having the right life for yourself. It’s not very often I feel myself speaking though time to myself, but maybe this is how you feel when you read these.
In case in a year from now I am wondering what this looked like: I drive around at night and listen to old Christmas music but I can keep the windows down and palm trees cut the horizon. There is always someone everywhere. I keep myself curled up around the people I love and remind myself this is why I came home. I fall so in love with my nephew every day it feels like there isn’t enough air in the room. I never sleep alone. I eat a lot of soup. I think about writing but rarely do. I tell secrets to my mother. I drive the 405 and don’t mind the traffic and I sleep in the warehouse with him drink cold coffee and talk about where we might go next. I go to the beach. I never sleep alone and it doesn’t snow here.