I was standing in the middle of my office, with the mess of office stuff on my left and the even bigger mess of sewing stuff on my right. The windows and door were open. The fifth episode of the second season of The West Wing was on television. The orioles were talking outside and our cat, Gabe, was just sitting there. He may have been a little cranky about the orioles, but he’s old and he’s a guy—maybe he was just cranky for general principles. I had coffee in my hand, fresh from the Keurig, sweetened and creamed to just the taste and color I liked. My husband wasn’t here, but he’d kissed me goodbye when he left. We’d laughed about something and we’d danced in the hallway in the house before I came out.
I laughed out loud, in here with no one to hear me, and I can see my smile in the screen of the computer even now. The orioles in the yard are even more orange than they usually are. Birdsong is sweeter and flowers gorgeouser.
And there, just for a couple of minutes in my morning, life was perfect.
My friend Joe makes doughnuts. During the coronavirus quarantine, he’s been delivering pastries to surrounding towns on certain days of the week. One town in particular was happy for his deliveries since their own long-time bakery was closed. The other bakery has opened back up now, so Joe stopped delivering to that town. He didn’t have to. They didn’t ask him to. But he wasn’t interested in taking over someone else’s playground.
For a moment in time, there was perfection in the world of local small business.
I like color. I like birds. I like rabbits and squirrels and deer in the yard. This morning, the cardinals, orioles, goldfinches, and blue jays—not to mention what I think was a bluebird but I’m not positive—are all over the place. I can see the rabbits down where they live and the squirrels scaling the cottonwood. No deer today, which is fine.
The scene out my office window is perfect. Just now.
My friend Terri gave me ten bags of fabric. Yes, ten. Since I already have…much fabric, I don’t need to get into those ten bags all at once. They’re sitting over there on the sewing side of the room. And it’s like having a Christmas tree in May. Each of those bags is a gift and I don’t know the contents. When I need something new, something uplifting, I open a bag. I make plans for the pieces of fabric in the bag. Masks, or one beautiful piece I’m going to be wearing as a summer top—if we ever actually get summer—or the center of a quilt block.
There is nothing except the fabric and the plans for it and who can be made happy by what is done with it. Happy’s good. Passing it on is even better. Opening that bag makes for several perfect moments.
There are drive-bys going on for high school graduates. This morning I watched a video of North Miami staff sending their students off for the summer with signs and waving. Dry eyes weren’t an option if you were watching.
It was perfection in a time of pain and loss.
As part of a lifestyle, a vocation, or an avocation, I think perfection is overrated—possibly because I’ve always known I had neither the patience or the necessary skills to achieve it. I’m a great fan of pretty good, good enough, and okay. If something was fun, productive, and no one was hurt, that’s as close to perfect as I need.
I remember a customer showing me a bubblegum card with a a young Mickey Mantle on it. I was so impressed because it was really old and it was…you know…Mickey Mantle. But he said it was worthless because it was so imperfect. The corners were crumpled and it was faded and it looked…old. All I could think was, Yeah, but it’s Mickey Mantle.
And yet. And yet I can still appreciate those moments of perfection. And talk about them, remember them, and be glad they happened. So, once again in my best Pollyanna Whittier voice, I’m asking you to look for the perfect, enjoy it, and store it up so that when 2020 is in the past, you will remember more than darkness. More than division. More than haters hating and people dying and high school seniors having to grow up at least a semester before their time.
I hope you’ll remember that while churches were silent, the people who attend them still worshiped. That while school buildings were closed, teachers (and parents!) still taught and students still learned. Don't forget bright orange birds, graduates not in the least lessened by not being able to march with their classmates to “Pomp and Circumstance,” and health care and other essential workers who stepped up Every Single Day of the quarantine. Remember always that in the midst of all that was bad, there were also moments of perfect in every day.
Have a great week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody.