Yesterday I spent a lot of my day thinking and writing about Chekhov stories. I talked about it over dinner with anyone who would listen, and I lay awake really happy, really really happy thinking about talking about what I was thinking about, and all of it was about the idea of happiness, which doesn’t always hold up. And the more I thought about it in the middle of the night the more it all made sense.
And it rained all night long, there were warnings about it, that it might be ice, that it might cause flooding in the snow upon snow upon snow. When Malcolm was home from college for two months he would talk a lot on his phone to a friend far away. He has an oddly warm and carrying voice: we couldn’t hear what he was saying through closed doors, from another storey of the house, but I could hear him talking. His voice has the timbre of one of the sounds the rain makes. He’s back at college, now, but all night long, last night, I’d wake from time-to-time and wonder, in middle-of-the-night bewilderment if it was Malcolm’s voice I was hearing, or just the rain.
I thought about how, from birth, you want to feed your babies and you want them to sleep. I thought about how on the towpath earlier, I’d heard birds singing in the bamboo, and how that must have been a safe place for them in the snow. I thought about the relation of contentment and happiness. I thought about how at the boys’ old elementary school earlier, walking with Clio, I had been overcome, knocked out, with layers of memory. Near tears.
More about Chekhov’s stories to come, but for now, the last line of my second favorite story: “And the rain beat against the windows all night long.” It did, my dears, it did.
I think he’s talking about the birds in the bamboo!