(I started this on Thursday, but like many other posts here, I wasn’t able to finish it very well. I finally tacked on a coda just now.)
Thursday evening, I was wandering the aisles of the Safeway on the hill in Ellicott City looking for coffee filters and something to eat. This particular store is always quiet and sparsely populated, so I always feel relaxed when I’m in there. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s probably going to close soon due to the proximity of the shiny new Superfresh up the street, but the produce is always pretty good, the shelves are full, and there are always carts lined out front—I figure that’s a good sign.
I prefer going to places where there are few people, actually. When I was in college, I spent many nights in the copy center downtown until the early morning hours, and I always enjoyed being in the city at 5am. Traffic was nonexistent; parking spots were plentiful. I’d sit at deserted streetlights and imagine having the city all to myself. It got so that I’d leave for Kinko’s at midnight just so that I could avoid the hassles, and I’d have the place all to myself with the odd Jesus freak or graduate student.
I was in the store to pick up some dinner—I’d just been at a restaurant, but I didn’t want to spend $30 and talk business through a mouthful of food. I was slowly pulling things from the shelves when Sinatra’s version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” came on the in-store speakers. Something about the melancholy, quiet way the song rolled along fit my mood perfectly. Outside, the temperature had dropped to a chilly 30°. Most of the leaves had fallen down off the trees. Suddenly I realized it’s the middle of November, and that Christmas is around the corner.
I used to really look forward to the holiday seasons. I’d always try to come up with interesting gifts for my family and friends, and (in the years I could afford to) surprise them with something exciting. These days, I’m not filled with the same amount of giddy fun that I was in years past, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with the holidays—it’s more about the aftermath. The idea of three months of gray, cold slush does not excite me.
Last night (Sunday), I built a fire in our fireplace with some of the wood I’d chopped from the elm tree out back. We sipped some wine and relaxed, letting the warmth make us sleepy. The lower half of the house is mostly clean, and I chopped some more wood today before it really started to rain. Hopefully we’ll be able to stock up firewood for the cold months when it’s uninspiring outside.