December 26, 2016
Customarily rapid Christmas. Party in Alpharetta with family and their friends. I was happy, though my life is, by and large, less chaotic, and tumult takes some getting used to. All seems gratifyingly well there-- D1 on his way to Germany, D2 girlfriended up, L happier than I had ever seen her. One of L’s friends suggested the TV show Mozart in the Jungle, which I am watching now with pleasure. Terrible night’s sleep lengthened the drive home, which was again lengthened by 1/3 by congestion, traffic sometimes stopped dead on 85. The cause was always the police. You got to the bottleneck, and it was, every time, cops ticketing someone or showing their presence by parking two abreast into the lanes. I suppose traffic could just keep on speeding by, but that’s not how it works. A three and a half hour journey became five hours.
Went to R’s ramshackle manse on Cumberland to join in the decorating of a Christmas tree. Only when I left did I question why it was being decorated the day after Christmas. Both the Rs are gone, and this seemed an event organized by their daughter to continue a long tradition. I misunderstood the plan to “hang an ornament on the tree,” and brought one from my own tree, a red and green enamel star. They had boxes of dusty ornaments of their own which we were actually supposed to use, but I went ahead and left the star, since it was out of my pocket and the only one in the house with a usable hanger. I lingered maybe ten minutes, put to flight by the ambivalence I’d always felt going to that house, part the recognition of their personal kindness and importance to the cultural life of the city, part revulsion at truly toxic squalor. Strata of artifacts, household implements, theater memorabilia, toys, ancient food, personal memories are held together by aromatic grit. The house could be used as a set for Long Day’s Journey or The Royal Family after a good steam cleaning. Noting these things is a flaw on my part, but I acknowledged the flaw and fled into the spotless night. Daughter M showed me some photos of myself from Montford’s Olympias. It was shocking to me. I was beautiful. I was never used to thinking of myself in that way.