Wednesday, July 18, 2012

summer wine

I don't recommend drunkenness. I certainly wouldn't prescribe excess consumption of alcohol. I don't generally enjoy hangovers and would rarely wish them on anyone else. Sometimes, however, it is possible to enjoy a hangover more pleasant than the wine and conversation enjoyed the evening before. Perhaps such hangovers can only happen in the summer, though I would like to think they could happen during a blizzard (and resultant snow day) as well.

This is the hangover that might begin with a bit of a headache early in the morning, but nothing that 2 glasses of water (with lemon), 2 eggs (scrambled, with greens), and 2 cups of tea (strong, Earl Grey) won't cure instantly. After breakfast, the rest of the day stretches until it is easily three times longer than a typical day. Your eyes feel about 90% open, just a smidge lazy and closed. There will be time, it seems, for everything in the world. A meeting with friends is almost unbearably long--enjoyable but colored with shades of eternity. Lunch surprises you with its indolence; it waits for you but in such a complete and perfect way that you begin to feel as though  you have been waiting for it. There is time to run out and find something sweet. There is time and time for everything.

The heat and its muggy, thick perfection recall you instantly into a twelve-year old body and for just a moment (or a minute, or five), you feel as though you are in the middle of your summer vacation and bored, bored, bored in the best of ways. You have the feeling--so rare, now that you're all grown up--that everything is just where it was supposed to have been, that someone very competent is in charge of things, and that things will turn out. Why wouldn't they?

There is time, barely, but fully, to relax into plush words and delight in someone's passionate prose and forget entirely habits of possession. Forget the panic and despair that sometimes accompany the words you did not write, that someone else, someone not you did write and wrote well. Just pure, non-possessive, peaceful pleasure. The words threatened to sail over your head but you, in your perfectly hungover state, did not even reach out your hand to capture them. Like a Taoist master, you let your stillness bring the words to you. You let go of the need for the words and they came, all of them, and you tasted each one.

The day continues to stretch. Yes, there is work to do. Yes, it is good work, interesting work, work of which you approve. Yes, you have done some of it. But there are also unexpected conversations, connections to be made with other people, in the flesh, skin and hair made perfect and soft by the thick and humid air. There are words to seek in addition to the words you write and in your delicious unattachment, you hold them all--all--in your hand, heart, mind, head and there seems to be time for everyone and everything. You wonder, for a moment, why it is you worry so much. No answer comes easily and so you let that question slip away. It isn't even interesting.

The day, the heat, the thickness of the air, the promise, the time, the unraveling of attachment seem to you like just what you hoped those long hot soaks in your bathtub in the winter could have been. This, this perfectly hungover state, is better than any bath. The velvet warmth carries into the heart of you the way a bath never can.

You know, of course, that it would be utter foolishness to try to achieve this state. This feels profound. Had you tried for the perfect hangover, you would have missed it entirely. You probably would not have made it to work; you might not have even made it out of bed. Your inner sage might be holding an awareness that this state need not be lost even if you never drink wine again. Perhaps you won't need wine next time to remember the length of the days, the relief of relinquishment.