woke to a knock on the front door, big brown box sitting on the stoop. a care package from mom including a variety of teas, chocolates, giftcards, a monogrammed handkerchief from my grandfather as well as several photo albums. i cried as i flipped through the glossy prints of C and i – two very young girls greedily unwrapping gifts on christmas morning, getting dressed for the first day of school, sitting at the breakfast table easter morning clutching a half-eaten bunny in one hand and a bowl of oatmeal in the other. it was a pleasant cry. light and restorative.the house has been so still with M away; my days less structured. i laze around in bed until mid afternoon then slip on a black dress, dark shades, walk to the store. i can’t be bothered to plan ahead, prefer my daily jaunt to the market. today every aisle was jammed with tourists stocking up on bottled water and trail mix as well as frantic locals searching for cheese platters and water crackers. a man in a tweed blazer stood in front of a rack of cabernet, obscuring the bottles, shouting into his phone, “i can’t hear you! are they 30 dollar people or can we slide by at 15?” while i waited at the checkout, i read about kim kardashian’s pregnancy in OK magazine: “no we’re not kidding! kayne west is the father!” the woman in front of me bought OK along with two other celebrity rags and yoga journal, carefully placing the latter on top. on the sidewalk parents wearing plus sized jerseys squawked “stop! stop!” as i dodged their toddlers who were decked out in matching sports gear. although the rose bowl was still several days away, the vendors were out on every corner. each year it is the same husband and wife duos in their tents, hawking hats and beer mugs. before long i will know them by name.
at night i wrapped a scarf around my neck and walked three blocks till i was in a paradise of red and white christmas lights. four long, tree lined roads full of million dollar homes comprised the city’s annual “holiday tour.” although the houses themselves were decadent—dressed with delicate white icicles—the tasteful lights proved boring. the best lawn shows occurred in the suburbs where a variety of plastic figurines dotted the parched grass lots, and the houses were adorned with lights of every color—blue, orange, yellow, purple, green. one house i spied last week was decked out entirely in pink, including the tinsel, and a wee nativity scene featuring barbie as the immaculate virgin mary. next to me several families on foot snapped pictures of their kids eating candied apples or burning their tongues on carnation hot chocolate . when it began to sprinkle, the crowds forged on; the children clutched their parents hands to keep from slipping on the newly slick concrete. i did not feel as if i was walking so much as floating through a field of light. the drizzle only enhanced my polychromatic trance.