My holiday break was pretty good, I guess. Thanks for asking.
I don’t think it was extraordinary by any stretch of the word though. As a Delta Nu member, I’m required to tell you that I’m very excited about the two new tapestries that I got. I went to my first ever hockey game to watch the Blues completely demolish the Flyers, which was bittersweet if I’m being honest. I loved every part of it, chanting “Let’s Go Blues,” seeing all of the plays up close and being needlessly jealous of the people on the other side of the stadium who caught the rally towels that were thrown out. Now I’m just highly disappointed while watching the tiniest puck of all time be nudged a centimeter to the left on my iPhone screen. Needless to say, I also got a lot of sleep.
The one part of my break that stood out to me most, though, was something that would normally be forgotten by the next day.
My mom and I had woken up before dawn to eat breakfast and go Christmas shopping. Neither of my parents know what I like although I don’t either most of the time, so they both just take me shopping for gifts, and I have to act surprised when I open them. What we thought was before dawn was more like 8 a.m., but most of the sun was covered with a thick layer of clouds and a heavy fog, so our bodies couldn’t really tell the difference.
We ran to the car through the 9 degree cold and immediately turned both the heat and the radio on. Tunes are almost as important as preventing frostbite to me. My mom moved to a small town after the divorce, probably to just get away from things, but the nearest shopping complex was 20 minutes away and the only roads you could take to get to the next town over were ones that weaved through the cornfields. Illinois has a lot of corn. Too much corn. The radio station that we chose plays classic rock, anything from The Cars and Fleetwood Mac to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
Some ways down the road, we neared a small fence-protected graveyard. No more than 200 headstones rested there. At almost the same second, the song on the radio switched to “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica. I yelled at my mom, “How perfect is that!” I looked over at the graveyard through the condensation covering the car window and the eerily dense fog, raised both of my hands with my index fingers and my thumbs in the shape of an L and quickly bent my right index finger to mimic taking a photo on a camera. My mom of course annoyingly asked me what I was doing, and I responded, “I’m taking a mental picture. It’s from Jim and Pam’s wedding on ‘The Office.’ You wouldn’t get it.”
In retrospect, there was nothing special about this trip, and you probably can’t relate at all. I’ve been Christmas shopping with just my mom for the past few years. I’ve seen fog before. I’ve listened to that song probably hundreds of times, played it on Guitar Hero maybe 50 and I even have a copy of it on cassette tape. My mom never understands my constant TV and movie references, and I’ve even walked through several graveyards, for educational purposes, I promise. But I did witness a poignant and poetic moment in a comparatively normal and insignificant situation.
That was the perfect song to be playing in that setting and that type of weather, and this might sound silly, but I just loved it. I might have even forgotten about it had I not written it down, but this was the greatest little reminder to always observe my surroundings and find little things that make me happy. Beauty is everywhere, if you’d only just stop for a second, look around and notice it.
“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”