Peace Is

Car wheels stop rolling and we’re home. The house is like we left it – suitcases and empty record boxes, laundry and guitar cases but cleaner than I remembered. Out the back window I see a lone glowing Santa – it’s almost Christmas.

neighbor santaI’m fighting off a cold and Eric is limping. My hair’s gone white in one spot, lines under my eyes. The bathroom mirror doesn’t lie – I saw myself in here two months ago and thought I looked pretty good. Now I think I need to sleep, drink more water. Wonder when that Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil will arrive by mail?

I go back to work. The bookstore is all changed around, but I don’t have time to think about it, there’s a line of customers doing Christmas shopping. At the bar the regulars call out my name and I feel happy to be back.

Yoga. I lie on the floor looking up at the tall tall windows with red curtains, and the medallion in the ceiling of this beautiful old building, listening to Sasha the instructor talk in a low familiar voice. This is easy yoga, Monday morning basics. After, I go to Swallow for a coffee. I pick up my phone to call Eric to see if he wants to meet me there but he’s already texted asking if I want to have coffee in Swallow.

The farm store. There are a few Christmas trees leaning around, starting to yellow – it’s two days before Christmas. “Are these on sale?” I ask the tree guy. “Nope.” We buy one anyway.

Back at work the customers are lined up to the back of the store. I’m a swiping, smiling, wrapping machine. I pour a beer for a regular and before I can set it down in front of him, he says “I’d like that wrapped please.” I reach for the wrapping paper without thinking. We laugh.

Christmas morning I get up early and decorate the tree. It felt indulgent spending money on something we’re just going to throw away in a few days, but hanging up the box of old ornaments, I think of my mother and how she loved decorating for the holidays. She’s been gone so long I don’t feel close to her very often anymore but for a few minutes with little glass ornaments and bits of ribbon and straw in my hands, I do.

Eric and I take a walk in nearby Athens. Twenty-six years ago when Hazel was a baby my group the Shams played a Christmas party at Stewart House, an old hotel on the Hudson River. From New York City it felt like traveling to outer space – do people actually live all the way up here? For a while now Christmas has meant a visit to NYC but this year it doesn’t occur to me to go, I’m too happy to be home, all the way up here.

stewart house

“Wish we could look in one of these old houses.” Athens is full of historic buildings. “Hey, isn’t that Frank?” Our friend Frank is loading some tools out of his truck and into an old house that he’s bought and is renovating. He takes us in and shows us around.

Hazel and Ben her boyfriend arrive from the city by Zipcar. We tromp through the bird sanctuary at sunset, laughing about stuff. Hazel helps me roast a duck (non-sanctuaried…bought at the farm store). The recipe says “Easy” but eight dirty pans and a slightly desiccated crispy duck later we’re not so sure. Everybody tears at the bird with bare hands to get a little meat. We open presents and laugh some more.


Christmas is over and it’s back to work. Eric tidies up the studio and we sing together on the microphone, feeling like the Archies for a minute.

Next morning the sun comes through the window next to the tree, I see the past year start to recede and wonder what’s up ahead?

december 26Thanks for making it this far with me, and here’s to the next part. 

12 thoughts on “Peace Is

  1. Scott C.

    Congratulations on settling back in. I’ve barely had a moment to relax since I got back last week and I was only being a tourist, not touring like you. Are there any Homemade Aeroplane dates pencilled in for January or beyond yet?

    1. amyrigby

      Hope your UK trip continued as great as it seemed to be going when we saw you Scott. And yes, we’re trying to come up with a date (and special guest) for a Jan/Feb house show, it’s looking likely to be February at this point – will let you know!

  2. Jos Williams

    Another ace post, Amy. I’m not one to read many (if any) personal blogs but yours are always just right. I second the Aeroplane request too! I’m 2 hrs west of you guys, but that’s like a drive to the grocery around here.

  3. John McMahon

    Amy, I bought a tree from the little lot on Banksville Road across from Kuhn’s on the 23rd, because I was having a little party before the big annual Lasagna Party with the buddies. The attendant at the lot was quite a scary fellow, and that is coming from me. I asked him how much the small trees were. “35 dollars.” Then I asked him how much the large ones were. “They’re 35 dollars too. They’re all fucking 35 dollars. This late in the game, people should be happy with what they get.” I bought the biggest tree he had, because why not? I had to chop the top and some of the bottom off to get it to fit in my apartment, but it is probably the best looking tree I have ever had. It is still so fresh and fragrant that now I am a little leery about taking it down. It’s like an old pal now, but delaying its trip to the borough compost pile can only go on for so long.

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