I have a very vivid memory of being on the T in Boston, holding the overhead bar, standing as the C-line car rode up Beacon Street out of Coolidge Corner toward Washington Square, thinking I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I don’t know where the feeling came from, or what prompted it, but it was visceral. And it was a powerful moment. I remember feeling so content and at ease and in the moment. Everything in my life, every moment previous, had brought to that moment and it was right. I was centered and grounded and certain.
These days, as much as I feel certain and sure, I also feel distracted, sometimes dissatisfied, sometimes uncertain. I wonder if I should change careers again, or if I should move back to Boston—if not now then when I retire from this career. I wonder how different my life might have been if I hadn’t moved back to Connecticut to teach. And I wonder if I will ever be paid to write something other than quizzes and tests and lesson plans. Still, despite those moments, I believe that I am content more often than I am not.
I have moments, when my feet are up on the coffee table or up on the couch tucked under my throw blanket, and my house smells good—perhaps of something I cooked, or the scent of a candle or both (the other day, the smell of fresh brewed coffee and my pumpkin spice candle combined to make it smell like a donut shop in a weird way)—and I’m reading a good book or flipping through a magazine when I think, what a perfect day. That kind of contentment feels close to what it was like that moment, but not quite.
The other day I came even closer. I decided to stop at a restaurant I used to frequent but no longer do (for no particular reason) to have a quick bite to eat and a drink on my way home from shopping after work. I ended up having an absolutely delightful conversation with the gentleman to my right, who was also on a first name basis with the bartender and whom my instincts knew was a good person. (How nice it was not to be in my twenties and not to have wondered for one moment about ulterior motives!) Indeed, through conversation I found him also to be a good husband and father. We talked easily, about food and wine, and Boston, our favorite restaurantts and hotels there. We talked about Florence and Rome and London and his children, and his wife, and education. I was able to have that conversation because of every moment that had come before it in my life, because of all the places I had been and the experiences I brought with me.
And at that moment, I was in the moment. I was content. And I was glad I stopped in.