D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom


tonight i made pizzas from scratch, all of it. i even made my own sauce because i had no jars in the pantry but several overripe tomatoes lolling around, along with onions and garlic. i could not go to the store because one of my children woke up sick today, but they managed to throw up in a place that was not on me. this is a rarity in these parts. that is not the blessing i am going to write about for today, however, although it could have been.

tonight when i was making pizzas, forced to do everything the all-natural way, my sick child asked me to play a song she is currently obsessed with, the song Chicago by Sufjan Stevens. my husband introduced her to it, and she refers to it as their song and their album. i huffily pointed out that i was the one who introduced her father to the artist, and to that very song. tonight she sang along loudly and off-key to the lyrics that meant nothing to her but she loved them all the same. she thanked me dreamily for sharing it. we played the song again, and then the entire album. i stood in my kitchen and listened to music that meant so very much to me when i was younger and fresher and moved through the world as if i was in a cloud. was i happy or was i self-absorbed or was i impossibly sheltered? i am not quite sure.

i was surprised by how happy the music made me feel. not just the song Chicago, but all the songs on that album. i remembered seeing it performed in concert, before i had ever even met the man who would become my husband, who would give me these two beautiful children. usually nostalgia makes me ache for a better time, a time when i could have done more to save the world. but these songs just felt beautiful, and like they connected me to a version of myself that was worth loving, even though so much of my life and mindset now strikes me as decidedly off-key.

i stayed at home all day today. my life is often constrained by love, by sickness, by anxiety, by children, by neighbors. and still we make do with what we can. we remember who we are as best as we are able. we re-experience a song, beloved for many years, now by many members of the same family. and every once in awhile, we learn the happy surprise of accepting right where we are as being the exact place we want to be.

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