from Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit


On the other hand, when she ran through the street with a smile of anticipation, passing adults still took notice, but they did not try to carry off her joy with them—instead it engineered a kind of kindred joy inside of them… p 27

Valentines Day wasn’t what I expected. M had to work in the morning. I layered up and spent time setting up a storywalk for the kids around town, hoping the frigid temperatures wouldn’t deter them from particpating. Unfortunately my kitchen sink found the weather to be to its disliking and when I started to do the dishes in the afternoon, I discovered that there wasn’t anywhere for the water to go—the pipes had frozen. When M finally came home, instead of rushing to give each a heart-shaped card or a gift wrapped in pretty pink paper, we spent time discussing the plumbing predicament and the previous night’s blow up. There were calm discussions and apologies, but then there were pancakes with blueberries and time spent watching a favorite movie.

My expectations for holidays often run high. Now that we are getting serious about putting in an offer for a house, the stress levels are astronomical. We’ve hit a few bumps and I feel myself turtling in, the voice in my head saying I didn’t want that house anyway. We’ll just stay here with the uninsulated basement and the frozen pipes and the plywood floors in the bedroom.

But then today I was listening to Tim Manley and Jen Lee talk in their podcast about excitement and anxiety and the thin line separating them. It hit me that this is what’s been plaguing me. There’s a razor- edge tightrope that divides the two. And during these intense times, I’m slowly making my way forward by putting one foot in front of the other Petit-style. One small slip and I could go either way. It feels safer sometimes not to care, to pretend you really didn’t want the thing you truly desire most in your heart anyway. How many times in my life have I told myself that something didn’t matter? How many times have I decided not to try because the anxiety level was to the code red level?

It’s funny to think that these emotions aren’t really opposites, but more the flip side of each other. As if the only true difference is the direction of intensity of the feeling or maybe the bitter absence of it. Joy/Sadness, Love/ Hate, Frustration/Pleasure, Productivity/Relaxation. I find myself tottering back and forth, see-sawing between the two, any of these pairs. I’m thinking about these words from another passage.

Disappointment, though heavy is an easy enough thing to pack away in a suitcase—it has straight edges and rounded corners, and it always fits into the last remaining empty space. Hope is much the same. But somehow the hybrid of the two is something much less uniform— awkward, bulkier, and no less heavy. It is far too delicate to pack away. It must be carried along in the hands. p 224

Disappointment and hope, they both exist in me and I can hold them both in my hands. But Savit talks about this hybrid of the two, a blending. Maybe there’s room for both. Neither one good or bad, but each in their own way necessary.

Today I had more errands to do, though I spent some time reading in bed this morning. When I finally made my way through all of the places on my list, I found that I was driving past the house we are hoping to buy. I turned onto the street and pretended to be driving home. The first sight that greeted me was the majestic hill that forms the backdrop for the little neighborhood. I felt it welcoming me. I had a vision of sitting in the attic; looking out one window would give the view of the hill, the river would be the view from the other. Our house would be between the two, straddling the world between, allowing us the chance to put a foot in both worlds. The choice would always be ours to make.

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