ShowDetails.aspx
The Middle Distance 2.15.13: Perfect Day

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Photo by Sean Cayton

I caught up with a friend, recently, who after many years of being single is remarrying this summer. Following a period of solitude and consideration of what she wanted in life, she decided to actively pursue a long-term relationship with a man. She found him online initially, and when they finally met, she said, they fell in love. That was it.

Love at first sight. Kind of.

I don’t believe in eyes connecting across a crowded room and sparks flying heart to heart at first glimpse. I do believe, though, that once we really see someone or something, clear and unveiled, without judgment, we are bound to fall in love, again and again.

I fell in love last week, not with a man or a woman, but with a perfect day. It was one of those Colorado winter days when the car doors are frozen shut in the morning and by afternoon everyone’s walking around in their shirtsleeves. These days aren’t unusual in our part of the Rocky Mountain West, but some days we look and don’t see them, cursing the frosted windshield, the stinging door handle.

I woke up early this perfect February day and saw the pink sunrise for the first time in a long while. Scrambled eggs and toast and the dog skidding across the front porch to retrieve the New York Times. His proud release. A son sleeping upstairs.

That morning a string of clouds lingered just below the mountain peaks to the west, puffy strands stretching the entire length of our town. Above, a sky so clear and blue you could swim in it. Below, sharp shadows cast by everything between the earth and the winter sun. There are days when I hate that same sun, wanting relief from its relentless brightness, but not this perfect day. This day I saw the shadow of the car rolling down the street alongside the car, a cinematic wonder.

This day I was planning a birthday dinner celebration — the birthday of my children’s father who died two-and-a-half years ago. Enough time had passed that we could finally remember his life with gratitude. It was strange to be in love with this perfect day, but it was easy to remember how much he loved this town, those clouds, that sky, those mountains, those kids, these streets. It was good to be able to see him again without a veil of darkness, on this perfect winter day.

I drove downtown to pick up some of our favorite bar food — greasy chicken strips with hot sauce — from his favorite bar, and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in the middle of a Thursday, drank his favorite martini while I was waiting. I had forgotten I had a smartphone, then it began to tinkle. Text messages trickling in, from New York, from Texas, from California, remembering this birthday, this perfect day.

I recalculated a mental list of the menu and errands to run: Ruffles potato chips and onion dip from the supermarket, slices of carrot cake from the neighborhood deli. We would indulge in cholesterol overload in memory of this cardiologist, this junk-food junkie who rode his bike a couple-hundred miles a week, whose arteries ran as clear as a mountain stream.

Passing through the middle of downtown I slowed down when a dark figure emerged into the street against the traffic light and traffic. A familiar ashy face, a body shrouded in a dusty down jacket, a guy I’ve probably seen with more regularity on a weekly basis than best friends or family. He didn’t look up, knowing the cars would wait for him as they always do. Crows cackled on the power lines above him. Jesus in a down jacket, I used to call him years ago when my kids and I saw him on the sidewalk next to the park. I had looked at him and not seen him hundreds of times since, but this perfect day I saw him, a long lost friend.

This day, treats for everyone. New Rawhides for the dog. Candles around the house, along the front porch rail, on the hearth, in the middle of the dining room table. The Beatles on satellite radio.

Our fingertips were crusty with salt from the bottomless bowl of Ruffles. We said goodnight to this perfect day and I blew out every candle, remembering at the last minute, in the darkness, the one still burning in the bathroom. The dog clicked down the hallway to bed, his last sigh a reminder of the possibility, always, of love at first sight.

Kathryn Eastburn is the author of A Sacred Feast: Reflections of Sacred Harp Singing and Dinner on the Ground, and Simon Says: A True Story of Boys, Guns and Murder in the Rocky Mountain West. You can comment and read or listen to this column again at The Big Something at KRCC.org. “The Middle Distance” is published every Friday on The Big Something and airs each Saturday at 1 p.m. right after This American Life.

 

10 Responses to The Middle Distance 2/15/13: Perfect Day

  1. k f collins says:

    Thank you for this Perfect Day…..

  2. Paula says:

    Funny, I was thinking of him a lot last week,,, smiles ;}

  3. Marty says:

    I look forward to visits with you every Friday morning. Today’s was especially poignant. Words I can’t express are deeply felt. Thank you.

  4. Mary Ann Tabor says:

    How beautiful. Thank you.

  5. Anne Lennox says:

    Kathryn, I admire and envy your generous soul.

    • sharon berthrong says:

      Kathgyn, I don’t believe in spirits of any kind but
      I love your guts and your gentleness. A wonderful mix.
      Thank you.

  6. Linda Page says:

    Beautiful, Kathryn. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years.

  7. Liz Arnold says:

    It was a wonderful evening, with lots of memories and laughter…..thank you for making it perfect, Kathryn.

News

January 26, 2015 | KHN · The administration wants to tie more of Medicare’s spending on health care to quality and to encourage doctors and hospitals to be more frugal in their spending.
 

January 26, 2015 | NPR · Jeffrey Sterling was fired from the CIA in 2002. His case has drawn wide attention in part because he was accused of giving secret information to James Risen of The New York Times.
 

Getty Images
January 26, 2015 | NPR · Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys are again asking that his trial, now in the jury selection phase, be moved. Lawyers say they have data showing that enough impartial jurors cannot be found in the city.
 

Arts & Life

January 26, 2015 | NPR · From flying like a bird to walking through a refugee camp in Syria, virtual reality has enabled journalists, filmmakers and artists to immerse their audience in their stories like never before.
 

NPR
January 26, 2015 | NPR · Now that the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods has made more than $100 million dollars at the box office in just three weeks, NPR’s movie critic Bob Mondello has a modest musical proposal.
 

AP
January 26, 2015 | NPR · Dish Network soon debuts its Sling TV streaming service, with a small group of cable channels for $20 a month. NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans tried it and says Sling TV is a welcome challenge to cable.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
January 26, 2015 | NPR · Ezra has a voice that can float high and delicate, but it can also wade deep. His debut album, Wanted On Voyage, is named for the words inscribed on Paddington Bear’s suitcase.
 

Courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
January 26, 2015 | WQXR · Hear the CSO and its charismatic conductor Riccardo Muti in a program showing the muscle and subtlety of the of orchestra in music by Scriabin, Debussy and Mendelssohn.
 

AFP/Getty Images
January 26, 2015 | NPR · Greek songman Demis Roussos lived an enormously colorful life, from his start as a prog-rock pioneer to being held captive by Hezbollah terrorists. He died Sunday at age 68 in Athens.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab