I declare today “International Out of Sorts Day.” (If I cite the switch to standard time as one of the causes, I can claim international status.)
I am out of sorts today, which is wretched because this is my respite from the soul-wrenching grind of working life and all that goes with it.
It began yesterday, when “Charles” (a euphemism) arrived three days early and for the second time this month. Just as a blue moon should be rare, so should a second Charles in a month. As a result, I’m tired, cranky, listless, and in pain — for the second time in October.
Then I woke up this morning at what would be 5 a.m., which I do sometimes, especially when Charles is around. Today, of course, it was really 4 a.m. I stayed up. I’ve had three cups of coffee and one cup of tea; I’ve tried unsuccessfully to nap or at least to relax, but I remain tired, cranky, listless, and in pain . . .
I did see a thin crescent of the moon brightly lit, with the dimly outlined glow of the sphere on top, sometime between moonrise and sunrise.
When it was light, I could see that the two trees below my windows are now bare except for one stubborn twig at the end of one branch on each. The leaves of the magnificent horse chestnut across the way in the park are not coloring and falling off so much as turning brown, curling up into a crisp, and dropping. The maples and some others at Promontory Point are half red or orange and half bare. A few trees are still relatively covered with slightly colored or even mostly green leaves. From bare to green, even the trees seem out of sorts.
I’m reading the Claudine novels by Colette and am nearing the end of Claudine in Paris. Claudine is homesick for Montigny and the country; she is disturbed by her discovery of Luce and her new status as mistress to her fat, elderly uncle-by-marriage; her other friends have left school and are getting married or otherwise settling into inevitable adult life; she believes Marcel’s lover to be somewhat of a fraud; mostly, she is 17 and starting to feel caught between a childhood to which she can never return and something — “more than a husband” — that eludes her; she is lonely, tired, cranky, and listless.
Claudine is out of sorts.
And, although in this novel she is 27 years younger than I am, we seem to be out of sorts for some of the same reasons. It’s autumn, and I miss the country and the annual drive with my parents to see the fall colors. I don’t always like the people with whom I am surrounded, and there is no escape from them. I don’t know what to do with myself, or, if I do, I don’t have the energy or will to do it.
As with Claudine, something is eluding me, something I can’t define. I think of things I could do that I might enjoy for a moment, but none of them would scratch the itch that torments but that I can’t find.
Claudine is, to some extent, Colette herself. Colette would live a rich, full, varied life. Was her itch ever scratched? Or, for such a woman, does a new one take its place in the heart?
While no one ever has everything they truly want, which is part of what keeps us going, there seem to be some for whom the hunger is constant, the longing acute, the water and fruit always beyond reach.
To you I say: Happy International Out of Sorts Day.
And may it not last a lifetime.