I like lists. Some would call me type A; however, the relative messiness of my life would beg to differ. My best friend would probably analyze it as my minor OCD coming out (she’s a psych major by the way). Honestly, I always thought I liked lists because every time I got to cross something off I felt like I just won a freaking Oscar. Even if the thing being crossed off was “1. Get out of bed you lazy bum.” A few years ago I started keeping lists of all the good things in life. The little or big things that brought me joy and happiness. My lists typically housed things that I had encountered or noticed that day or during a recent experience. I now have years worth of entries, all full of random scents, sounds, objects, tastes, people, and feelings that make me smile. During this time when everything is going to shit, I have been leaning on these little journal entries as a crutch. I mean it literally feels like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong right now, so what better time than now to keep track of the things that keep my world bright and sunny? In keeping with the journal theme of this issue quite literally, here are some excerpts from my actual journal.
Now, the great majority of my lists are made up of people. My best friends, my family, my crushes, my coworkers, and even random strangers. It is becoming more and more apparent that people rule my world. I am, what do they call it, a “people person”? The people in my life are my life. With that being said, we are living in a time where most people are physically out of reach. I have had to center this new way of life around the non-human connections. So, here are some of those “good things.”
Barefeet in the early spring grass. The blades warm from the sun but the soil freezing from the cold night before. My toes go numb, and putting socks back on feels like a hug for each and every one of my toes. Seeing my grass-stained feet and thinking of the soon-coming summer when my feet are in a state of perpetual blackness and filth, in the best way possible. They look like childlike fun, no worries, a simple state of life.
That bridge in College Woods. The one right by the old drinking water treatment plant that I bet a lot of you didn’t even know was our drinking water treatment plant. The sound of the water cascading over the dam, washing away any worries or stresses. Watching those bad thoughts float away on the other side of the bridge, down the river, then around the bend, disappearing, at least for a moment.
The excitement of anticipating the arrival of a package. Ordering something, or better yet someone asking for my mailing address. Receiving mail that’s not a bill or credit card advertisement. My name, written in someone else’s handwriting. Slipping my finger under the envelope flap, hearing the tearing sound of ripping paper, ravishingly opening the letter or card or box, gobbling up the contents uncontrollably.
Magnolia trees. The sickly sweet smell that draws me in. It almost feels like a trap. Trying to resist the urge to pick the delicate white, pink flowers but failing to do so. The petals falling off the bloom before I even reach home. The addicting fragrance left behind on my fingers is the only trace of the beautiful bloom that’s left behind.
The sunny spot on the couch. The living room is chilly in the morning, especially in comparison to the warmth and comfort of bed and sleep. My toes remain freezing while the rest of my body warms up, my face first. Pretending I am a house cat, basking in the beams. The intensity of the early rays so powerful that I can’t feel or think of anything else.
Noise. The beautiful filler of the dreaded silence that accompanies quarantining alone. My upstairs neighbors shouting, screaming, singing, stomping, reminding me that life continues to be lived on. A crackled record spinning, transporting me decades into the past. Shrieked laughter, sometimes my own, sometimes from a nameless passerby, sometimes from a loved one through my phone speaker. Early morning bird trills, slicing through the dewy air, nature’s alarm. I don’t even mind when they wake me up far too early. Muffled voices, humming, cars driving by, music, whistling, any form of those vibrations that reach my eardrums, consuming the stillness.
The smell of garlic sauteing in olive oil. Such a common and simple thing, yet it is decadent, rich, and pleasurable to me. The beginning of any and all great meals, an indicator of savory delight. The scent encompassing the kitchen for hours post-cooking.
Coffee. Need I say more? Well, I will, whether I need to or not. The scent of the dark roast grounds filling the room. The kettle boiling with enthusiasm. The glass walls of the French press fogging up with steam. Just one sip and now the day has begun.
Sunshine. Glorious, beautiful, sunshine.
Although these are things that bring me joy, I’m hoping they at least made the corners of your mouth twinge up a little bit. Lord knows we could all use a few more reasons to smile nowadays.