On Comfort

Head’s Up: Sponsored by Zappos

The cucumbers are rotten and the news is all bad and it’s just that we really, really need each other.

This summer was a hard one over here. This summer was a hard one everywhere, I think, and we’re all still a bit raw from the scorch. The fires, the floods, the riots, the unrest. Something in the world – in ours and yours – is breaking open, and what’s spilling out is mostly selfish and anger splattered with a bit of magpie optimism, some good intentions.

Still, we’ve had our fun. Cold pickles and muddy toes and tire swings, and Scout has grown two of the whitest, most giant Tic Tac teeth on his perfect little bottom row and all is as it should be; all manner of things are well, mostly.

Mostly.

Ours has been a summer of Ken preoccupying himself with a project, wielding hammers and 2x4s daily under a hot sun. It has been a summer of me, watching from the kitchen window, preoccupying myself with everything else – wondering what I’m to make for dinner, what to make of these sweet kids, what to make of this small life.

(No one ever accused me of ignoring my own navel, nor of keeping my thoughts on a tight leash.)

It’s been largely uncomfortable. It has been hard, for reasons it should and shouldn’t be hard. And there have been the many ways I have tried to make myself comfortable, to convince myself all is well. Two spritzes of rosewater on the cheeks, cinnamon tea splashing around a ceramic mug. Deep breaths, a Proverb. A brisk walk around the neighborhood and twenty minutes later, I’m renewed, restored.

Usually it works.
Lately it has not been working.

The thing about comfort is that it’s addictive. We smooth our wrinkles and bubble wrap our insecurities, and we think ah, there, that’s better. Finally, forever, all is well – until we find a new gray hair or an aching character flaw, and it’s time to comfort ourselves once again. We use what’s available to us; we operate with what we know.

A face mask and a good book, perhaps? A nap? Deleting Twitter?

I find an odd sort of peace in the idea that comfort is not meant to be arrived upon. It cannot be kept, stored, saved for later. It is not ours to have and to hold, from this day forth, evermore and Amen.

Take comfort, it is said.

But keep it? Carry it? Hide it beneath the floorboards?

Impossible.

A few weekends ago, our banged-up little family was finally together, all four of us, en route to a fall festival no less. There was sarsaparilla beer and haystack concerts and apple fritters at every corner. I wore a new pair of Born boots (hat tip for speedy shipping, Zappos), pushed Scout’s stroller through aisles of goat milk soap and wooden signs. I watched Ken and Bee walk just up ahead, hand in hand as they’d disappear and reappear through bonfire smoke; streams of sunlight peeking through a canopy of older-than-forever trees. Running and laughter, mayhem and music, brisket and love. It was just the most magical string of moments I’d witnessed in a long while, realizing in a near-instant that we’d finally been granted the perfect afternoon we’d fought for all summer.

But then I yelled in the middle of the parking lot; just absolutely lost my bearings over an ill-timed comment from Bee. It was uncomfortable – the realization that I’d failed, again, at something I was working so hard toward. The apology after, the forgiveness I know I didn’t deserve.

Everything is temporary, and fleeting, and beautiful until it isn’t.

But I know this: the beastly moments don’t negate the beautiful ones. The magic was still there. It had happened, it was real.

We were together.

(I’ve got the boots to prove it.)

The cucumbers are rotten and the news is all bad.

And we really, really need each other.

Bee and I are reading about giants and dream jars, how they both have a habit of galloping away just when we want them most.

How, mostly, they have a habit of returning when we need them.

She is weightless under heavy eyelids, a secret smile on her face, and her fingers are curled tight around my own, her head of soft hair on my chest, and I read and I read and I read and I read.

“This dream is continuing very nice,” says the BFG. “It has a very dory-hunky ending.”

She finds rest.
I find comfort.

It’s just that I’ve been getting comfort all wrong. It’s not something to aim for, to run toward. It’s no lasting goal to chase and gather, to stow away for someday use. It’s no magic Band-aid, after all.

But it is something to take where we can get, and it is something to fight for. To steal from the day’s most terrible, truthful moments. Something that will never stay for long, but that we can catch in our own hour of need and dole out to someone else in theirs.

The cucumbers are rotten and the news is all bad.

But perhaps comfort is knowing, mostly, it has a very dory-hunky ending.

 

p.s. This essay was written for Zappos (fast, free shipping and all star customer service with a 365 day return policy!) and Born blending the art of old-world shoemaking with the art of fashion to create exceptional footwear for over 20 years. Shop the collection here, and take comfort in your own dory-hunky day.

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  • Just beautiful. Your essays always move me to tears, and this one was no exception. You are a beautiful writer, thank you for what you do.

  • Everything is temporary, and fleeting, and beautiful until it isn’t.

    But I know this: the beastly moments don’t negate the beautiful ones. The magic was still there. It had happened, it was real.

    …yesterday, after a week of waiting and thinking there was no hope, we saw a tiny heartbeat. And as soon as she turned off the screen, shes said there was only a small chance it would keep beating. But your words are a salve to me today. Those two lines describe precisely how I feel. I saw my baby and that alone, is magic.

    • Oh Jamie. I’m thinking of you this morning. Sending prayers of light and comfort and – dare I say it? – HOPE. Hoping, hoping, hoping. All my love to you today, friend.

  • Some days are good (giggles and tickles), some days are bad (yelling around here, too), some are in the middle. I find the most comfort, however fleeting because they aren’t with me all day when I sometimes need them, in morning snuggles with Forrest and the first kiss-how-are-you with Matt at the end of the day, and snuggles with both before sleep. My people often provide the comfort I still seek in meditation and yoga and that bag of caramel corn from Target…

  • “A face mask and a good book, perhaps? A nap? Deleting Twitter?” Have tried all of the above. Currently trying to remember comfort only exists because discomfort does. Keep on keepin’ on.

  • Yes yes yes, Just this weekend we had the most perfect surprise wedding with all of our friends and family, and now this coming weekend we have to put down our beloved german shepherd named Kiley. Life is never all good or all bad. Life is beautiful and brutal. Thank you for this.

    • Oh Bonnie, I’m so sorry to hear about Kiley. (And so so happy for your wedding – congrats to you!). The good and the hard indeed.