Little Hummingbird

It’s 9:32 pm. And though it’s not still entirely light out, darkness is still a long way off this evening. It would be even brighter out, but thick clouds hang on the mountain behind our house. The swallow chicks peep in an unused venting duct on my neighbors’ house. Each year the parents or their progeny make a nest and breed in there. A tiny hummingbird was perched on our feeder as I walked by with my warm cup of nighttime tea in hand.

I had a twinge of guilt seeing him there, remembering that I’ve not changed his water in nearly two weeks. I hope he doesn’t get drunk off the fermented concoction and fail to make it home to his tiny nest tonight. Everything around me is like that. Two dinosaurs rest on the same tabletop where they’ve been since five days ago. The blanket on the couch is unfolded and lumped where Auggie left it on his way to the bath. A receipt sits on the countertop, and will likely stay there for days. So too the cat’s collar, the unwashed dining room table, the backing for the empty notepad.

When Chris is home our house returns, at least once a day, to a nearly immaculate sense of order. He is maniacally tidy, save for the corner of our dining room table where he heaps all his things for weeks on end until I give up waiting and haul them unceremoniously to the basement bedroom. Dirt may accumulate on the rug, or soap scum in the bathtub, but surfaces are clean, things are put away, toys are returned to their storage bins.

I’m not given to this inclination, though I’m enough the child of my mother to feel guilt at the piles of things. Living with Chris has only strengthened this sense of anxiety at domestic disorder. His annual departure gives me an opportunity to practice letting go of that anxiety, by allowing things to come apart a bit at the edges and living with it. But I can’t entirely let go of the distress. Messy bed, messy head.

I remind myself that reading a book for thirty minutes while Auggie sleeps will do better things for the both of us than me washing those dishes and that counter. The dishes will always get washed.

I am so hungry for reading and learning, all the time. I am finding an inverse relationship between everything I absorb and my sense of myself as good at anything at all. When I was younger I had confidence in my work and my direction in life. And I was achieving really material things, like helping to build the new Kodiak library. Now I know more, but I am confident of far less. But I happily accept this uncertainty for the joy of taking on more and more and more ideas.

Books mound up around me. On my bedside table. In the basement bookshelf. On the shelves in the living room. They are oppressive at times, but mostly they tantalize me. They hum to me while I move around in my day.

And with that, I’ll sign off. Time to read.