from My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante


The Christmas vacation passed in deep conversation—in the shoemaker’s shop, on the street, in the courtyard. We told each other everything, even the little things, and we were happy. P 163

It feels like a time of endings. I’ve finished a few books, 2015 is now complete and my vacation ends tomorrow. I took some time off from work to enjoy a visit with the prodigal college freshman. We’ve settled back into some of our routines, and it feels familiar–except now there are three of us vying for two cars. In some ways it is different, he’s a guest/not guest. I overheard him tell someone at the Library that “College changes a man” in that teasing way he has that sometimes hides his brutal honesty. He has changed and so have we.

But in some ways the three of us are having the best holiday ever. We are upholding some traditions and making new ones. We gave sweet, thoughtful gifts; our tree got up early enough so we could go to two open houses on Christmas Eve; and most evenings are spent talking, reading, playing games, or rewatching some of our well-loved DVDs.

The talking has been my favorite, those little tidbits that slip out about friends at school or trips into Boston or life on campus. When our lives aren’t so hurried there is time for conversation. I love the slow pace of After Christmas. Days have been spent pajama clad, sipping hot chocolate and eating ice cream (while recovering from dental surgery). I have baked the babka, written the cards and mailed the packages. Each day seems to spool languidly out from the next, like billowing fog. And there is–Finally!—snow on the ground. My heart feels full.

Despite the appearance of snow, T spent Thursday morning hiking Mt Cardigan with his friends, all officers from last year’s student council. It felt a fitting way to finish out this year, filled with the ups and downs of college applications, graduation, the driver’s license exam, heading off to school and returning. It was a year that was abundant and overflowing. Full of joy, anxiety, expectation, celebration and living. Interspersed throughout there were many unremarkable days in which we got up, went to work, came home and went to sleep in anticipation of getting up the next day and doing it all over again. These past few weeks I’ve gotten away from my regular schedule. I confess it’s been a little magical without the structure, but I know it can’t continue. Honestly I wouldn’t want it too. I need those busy days when I am pushed and challenged to make me appreciate this time at home. Time to decompress; to exhale deeply. To fritter senselessly, read and write, sleep in and not be beholden to customers or patrons.

Nothing much has happened these past few weeks. We didn’t journey to distant lands but it was exquisitely wonderful all the same. Tonight there will be bowls of ice cream in front of the TV and tomorrow will be a Sunday in every sense of the word. Monday will come soon enough and with it a new beginning.

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