There are moments when I feel I am nothing but the small clerk of some hotel without a proprietor, who has all his work cut out to enter the names and hand the keys to the willful guests.–Katherine Mansfield
I came across this in Tracy Daugherty’s Joan Didion biography, The Last Love Song, which I’ve been reading thirstily and disdainfully. I don’t mind the anonymity the quote describes, but I’ve been flashing on it as I’ve been watching the day turn to night. Sun’s turning all kinds of neon bruises that’ll disappear with her grand exit, permakitten Grace and I are admiring from the kitchen window, and there’s this feeling–immense, bottomless–of all of us passing through each other without leaving a dent. What’s interesting is how completely I’ve come to accept this. It’s not sad, not really. It’s just the fourth dimension, slicing through our existential chatter.
Around lunchtime today, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Whole Foods was so empty. When I finally remembered, it was nice to realize how many practicing Jews still populate New York despite our ever-dwindling supply of Good Bagels.
On the train home, my bounty in bags around my feet, I thought about why I don’t observe Yom Kippur any more. The fasting part is obvious: I was anorexic for long enough that taking a day off from eating is like trying to smoke crack casually after years on the pipe. Even now I carry my extra 15 pounds around with a measure of pride, as proof that I love myself enough to tolerate my (vast) imperfections.
I suppose too there’s a feeling that this last year—the last four, really—has been a nonstop, involuntary period of atonement. Every day I pay the bills for which I’ve been delinquent most of my adulthood, literally and figuratively. Every day I amend for how I catered to my pettiness, my vanity, my greed, my fear, and my rage so long as I believed the world owed me anything but wonderfully impersonal love.
On this September 23, this autumnal equinox, this day of atonement, I also relish what is here to be relished. I eat apples, I drink wine, I have color in my cheeks. And I send courage and compassion to everyone, even me. Gmar Chatimah Tova.