07 November 2005

Day by Day and Again Tomorrow

This morning we awoke to a gift.

I am pretty sure that this is the first actual gift we’ve received from our cat, as it is typically her practice to take as much as she likes of both food and couch space and offer very little in return. But today she lovingly delivered a small grey mouse for Jeremy (laid out on the rug next to his office chair, where she now sits curled up asleep, understandably tired from her late night “shopping” excursion.)

Our house is just full of gifts these days. There’s our new collection of my dad’s old vinyl records, including Another Side of Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel Bookends, early Emmylou, some Neil Diamond thrown in for flair (including one with “Crunchy Granola Suite!”), and my favorite Crystal Gayle albums that I used to sing along to as a kid.

In a corner of my bedroom are bags of belated birthday gifts for friends whose celebrations have long since passed--friends I haven’t seen because I’ve sort of been hiding lately. [Sometimes I go through phases where I’d rather be alone. Usually, but not always, being alone means that I like to have my husband there with me. One of the best things about marriage is that you can actually be alone and still be in the same room with someone, and somehow it’s a million times better than being all by yourself.] There’s also a brown box wrapped up with a striped ribbon, and inside: a baby gift to send to my sister who is pregnant with my nephew Jake.

On the coffee table is another birthday gift that I meant to give but didn’t. It’s a photographic essay called The Sea (Day by Day.) I bought the book not long ago, four months late for my dad’s birthday last May. Since it was already so late, I took it to Houston to give it to him in person rather than mailing it. But pictures of faraway oceans never seemed to fit in with all that was right in front of us at the time, so it sat in the corner of the hospital room in a bag for days and days until I finally brought it back to Nashville again.

My dad was an accountant for as long as I knew him and one afternoon about three years ago I asked him: “Do you enjoy what you do for a living?” I was surprised when he answered, “Not really.” So I asked him what, if he could have done anything in the whole world without regard for money, he would have chosen instead. He said he had always loved to sail when he was young, had always loved the water, and thought he would have liked being a sailor rather than crunching numbers for giant oil companies all these years.

One of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received is my camera, a Christmas gift from my dad actually, almost ten years ago. It opened up a whole new world to me when I first used it, looking through that little box and seeing so many familiar things for the first time.

If someone was to ask me what kind of gift would make me happy (a tangible gift, something to open)--it would probably be one related to photography and art, or cooking too. I could spend hours wandering through aisles of paintbrushes and acrylic tubes, and I think racks of kitchen utensils are truly fascinating (much the way my friend Christie who has a passion for office supplies craves staplers and tape dispensers.) And I love looking at photography books---pictures of people, of landscapes. Memories of life. Those are the things that have always resonated with me. I often tell Jeremy that for me, life is best when it’s spent capturing important moments, the ones that will still mean something to you a long, long time from now no matter where life takes you.

And I guess that’s why I bought my dad a book about the ocean.

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