Weeks ago, back when all of my conversations didn’t start with “How are you holding up?”, I started a file in my Notes app called, “Things That Delight Me.”
The concept came to mind after a writing group meeting in January in which I had shared an essay on writing that I drafted out of haste and peer pressure to produce something for others to review. This writing group sprouted years ago from a creative writing class I took, and a few of us decided to keep sharing words together. The group has morphed as some have gone on to earn MFAs and others have had their focus change with new babies. Now it stands at two original members, myself and a lovely woman who could describe a pile of garbage in a way that would entice you to learn more, and a newcomer. While we were reviewing my piece, which included both praise and helpful critiques, the new guy mentioned that the piece was lacking any joy or playfulness.
Huh. I had never heard that about my writing before, but it made sense. I am not a perfect writer, but I can draw out emotion, and sometimes, I’m even eloquent. But, I am rarely playful in my writing.
Not much later, I heard this episode of This American Life about delight, and one guest was an expert of delight who makes opportunities for these simply sparkly moments daily. An example he gave was carrying a tomato plant on to an airplane and how the other passengers and crew were so enthralled with this idea that they all made charming comments about the plant and was concerned that it was having a safe flight.
This made me think how delight and silliness is often not at the center of my life. Instead, I wake up with a list of worries that I should attend to, and then I get started going grudgingly from activity to activity. Even when I am having fun, I am rarely actually enjoying myself.
So, I started the note on my phone in order to record these smiley moments so that I would have them when life became hard and dark.
Welcome to March 2020.
This week, I was laid off (with intention to rehire) from my part-time job, which is inconvenient because rent is due next week, along with a $3,000 bill for classes later in April, and taxes sometime before July 15. And, we are the lucky ones. We don’t have children, my husband finally has a good job, and we’ve spent the last year living on a lean budget so there is breathing room. Many people are losing their jobs, and more layoffs are expected as much of the economy has come to a complete halt. Worse, the infected rate drastically climbs every day, and our dedicated healthcare workers are in the fight of their careers. There is no end in our sight, and our government has completely let us down in their preparation and reaction to this pandemic.
It’s scary. I am scared. Every day, fear wakes me up, and I have to remember for a second that this is not a bad dream but our reality.
However, even in this unprecedented, uncertain, and troubling time, delight is around. It’s peaking out when you aren’t noticing it. It’s waiting for you to see it. It’s small but mighty. It’s there.
Because we all need some positivity, I thought I would share parts of my “Things That Delight Me List” as well as general things that I am thankful for at this time. I want a record of this list so I can remember all the good that was side-by-side with all the worry. I want to review this list as a break from the onslaught of terrifying news and social media posts. And, I want to share this in the hopes that you will also share some of things that delight you. For now, enjoy.
Things That Delight Me:
- Sunny days, even if the air is so cold my fingers hurt. At least the sun is there to make me believe it will be ok.
- At night my husband pretends to hug me but then pushes me on to the bed. Giggles squeak out of me as he lays on top of me like a weight blanket. We do this every night, and it is never not endearing.
- A friend reaching out just to see if I need a streaming password. It was the smallest of gestures, but it came with the utmost sincerity.
- This video clip of the Cubs winning the World Series. I watch it every year. The Cubs are a good reminder that, even though dark times may last awhile, they can’t last forever. And, when victory comes, it will be better than you imagined it.
- Virtual happy hours/brunches/afternoon teas. It’s amazing. Why didn’t we do this earlier? I get to catch up with good people and not leave my house.
- The musical bridge of Vampire Weekend’s The Unbelievers. It’s like walking through an instrumental forest.
- For the last three semesters, I’ve had a late class. All of the courses in my program are in the evening and split into two block: the early class (5-7:30 pm) and the late class (7:40 pm – 10:10). When my class gets out past 10, I am not home until 11, which means I am on public transportation a little later than I feel comfortable. However, with only online classes, I no longer have to make those stressful commutes home. It’s incredible to close my laptop and be home.
- My two-year-old niece is my daily hero. She knows that they key to happiness is sitting around in your underwear and eating your favorite snack. She is downright jolly after ingesting ice cream, and she loves to call me just to ask to see my dog. My nephew, who is nearly three, is an expert at launching himself off of things and scarfing down donuts. Neither one of them give a crap about what anyone else thinks. I adore them.
- Harry Styles’ Tiny Desk Concert. And, really, his whole new album.
- My husband often stands up and open his arms real wide. In response, my dog jumps up to him, her version of a hug. He laughs. Her tail wiggles. This is how an animal and a human show love.
- I made cookies one day just because I felt like it. I baked a dozen and froze the rest of the dough in balls with the intention of baking them at another time. Instead, each day I pull one out and pop it in my mouth. It’s a naughty act. A child would get reprehended for the such disregard to health. A disordered eating victim would punish herself physically and emotionally. I am an adult in recovery so I can simply enjoy the frozen goo.
- Falling into a bed with freshly cleaned sheets.
- Finishing a long run, sweaty and dirty, and then washing down the smug the feeling of superiority to anyone who didn’t spend their Saturday morning thrusting their body forward for 15 miles with whatever salty food I want.
- Wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s.
- Fresh flowers.
- Naps with Annie. She is the best cuddler.
- Finding a new-to-me recipe and examining it like a puzzle, wandering through the discomfort of not really knowing what I am doing. Then, when my husband sinks his teeth into it, reassuring me I nailed it by going for a second bite.
- When one some asks for my advice. I tend to think I am excellent advice giver, and their request proves this to be true.
- Waking up from a three-hour nap in which I was transported to a long street that makes up a series of bars from early 20s. For a few minutes, I plan to revisit those places again, order just one more tall Boulevard and dreamingly stumble into the street, like I was drunk on ambition and naïveté. Then I decide that those places are best store in my dreams and that it’s better for emotional health to make new memories instead of exploring past ones. They aren’t the same, and neither am I.
- Taking a walk at dusk with my husband and dog. Between work and school, I am almost never home between the hours of 1 pm – 8 pm, and so to enjoy the 5 o’clock hour at home is absolute treat.
- Ice cream. Everything is better with ice cream.
- Date nights at home. Even if we can’t go out, I will still do full makeup and put on that sparkly dress.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and To All the Boys P.S. I Still Love you Sure, these are teen romance movies, but they make me downright giddy. I absolutely loved the first one, and it’s one of the only movies I will watch over and over again. And, I knew there was a second one, but before this, I rarely had two hours to sit down and watch something. Well, thanks to shelter in place, I could finally watch it. I was far from disappointed.
- Being on a boat. You forget pretty much all of your worries, should’ves and could’ves when you are skimming across water’s surface.
That’s all for now, but I will keep looking for delight, and I hope you do, too, because between that, hope, and each other, it’s all we got.