“Put your writer’s hat on,” the prompt says. And I wonder if I ever really take it off. I know, I know; I’m not always ACTUALLY writing. But tomorrow I’ll have been on this earth for twenty-four years and I think in that time I’ve come to see the world in a certain way.
This morning my heart swelled up when I looked out the window onto my suburban street, and I saw the way the sun sparkled on the grass, and how the neighbor’s flag was blowing in the breeze, and I thought: this is really lovely. Suburbia may be mundane, but a writer can make it exciting, even intriguing. Think of how Eugenides painted the hometown of his The Virgin Suicides to be gorgeous, mysterious. The uniformed little houses, the tree in the yard that is dead but invokes so much more from the youngest sister. A football field becomes something mythical: a victory, a kiss among the goalposts. The high school bricks are glowing, whispering; they have so many stories to tell. The pizza place may be closed today, but the scent of garlic and tomato still permeates the air, as permanent a fixture as the maple trees or the old fence posts.
Today I will spend Easter Sunday with my family, and I wouldn’t have any other way. We will pile into the minivan and Dad will drive us to a great Italian place that I sometimes think may be a mob front, and we will kiss my grandmother and Dad’s sisters hello and sit down for brunch at a circular table. I can already see the white linen napkins, the children running around in their Easter finery. So many pastels. Big silver warming dishes of scrambled eggs and bacon, the carving station with the lamp that casts a red glow over the roast beef and the lamb.
We will visit my grandparents’ house afterwards, a whole new kind of noise. Lots of smiles and laughter and catching-up. The hundreds of plastic eggs grandma stuffs with quarters and some – lucky – dollars. They are strewn out across the lawn in the backyard, so the grass is more pink-blue-yellow than green. The swimming pool lies in wait there, too, with its army green canvas stretched out tight like a drum. But just being near the swimming pool is enough to conjure up a longing for summer, for barbecues and coolers of beer and the sticky feel of chlorine drying on the skin of your shoulders.
And we will all eat through much throughout the course of the day, the kind of stuffed that doesn’t follow me around New York City, but is instead reserved for long car rides and walking across parking lots with the top button of your pants undone.
And the sun won’t set until after seven tonight, a glorious idea that sweeps the cobwebs of winter doldrums out of my brain. And maybe the tulips will start poking through the earth soon. And maybe I will smile more often than I frown.