Monday, March 29, 2010


There are people we come across who provide a glimmer of who we will be in years to come. I've met women, or glanced at women, who I'm sure are some version of me, who embody an idea of myself that has yet to come to fruition. One winter night, a decade and a half ago, in a Welsh pub with a round wooden door, I found such a woman across the dining room. She moved calmly, with smooth grace; she used her hands to emphasize certain points in the conversation I was too far away to hear; she brushed her hair back from her forehead with natural motion. She drank red wine. I had yet to master red wine. I moved with awkward hesitancy that I hoped resembled gentle, attractive humility (it didn't). My hair remained in my face no matter how often I roughly shoved it back. I was unhappy, both because of circumstances and because who I acted like kept not matching up with who I thought I was. If you had asked me, though, I'd have claimed a full quota of joy. But, watching that woman over my brown serving of roast mutton and a glass of mis-paired pinot grigio, I felt sweetly aware that this year was only one moment of a great chunk of time. And though I never spoke to that woman in the Welsh pub, though she had no idea she was being so closely studied, I credit her as a type of beacon, a light house beam that reassured me, a bit, that things would change, I would change. I'd form a warm affection for red wine, and my hair would someday fall almost gracefully to my shoulders. I haven't eaten mutton since.

When M and I got engaged, we took my family to a Spanish restaurant to make our announcement. It was to be our treat, and we told everyone to order whatever they wanted from the menu, though no one - no matter how desperately they thought they wanted it - could order the baby goat. I don't imagine anyone had been thinking of that choice for this festive dinner, but it made me feel better to state the obvious. When we go out as a family now, there is no ordering veal or lamb; the very thought of it makes me quiver. Perhaps I am somewhat hypocritical, but I am inordinately fond of sheep. This may be due to my new found love of knitting, but I find sheep fascinating. When I went to Germany to visit a friend over the Christmas holidays a few years ago, we toured the crèches on display all over the city, mostly so I could photograph the different representations of sheep. My obsession has become somewhat of a joke between us; just this past week we received a belated holiday package from Germany. Inside were sheep napkins, a sheep card, a bank in the form of a sheep, and chocolate sheep. These marvellous muttons are almost too cute to eat. I'm not taking any bets on how long they'll last, though.

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