“Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die.”
What does merry taste like? The bitter defeat of watching an ex-lover drink and be merry with a new mistress—what else ought I call her? I want this bitter taste out of my mouth and I ought stop festering, creating hardened plaque of the heart. To be merry tastes like parsley and dill I just pulled from my garden. It tastes like sweet and spicy tea I put in with coffee compressed in the French press in the darkness of pre-dawn. It tastes like saliva I suck through gaps in the teeth of that same ex-lover I kiss in the upcycle of the lines of a heartbeat on a monitor.
It looks like the smile on the face of a child when surprised and delighted by a hello or maybe a tube of chapstick. It’s seen in the moment another human feels safe and heard and here comes the teeth of ecstasy again so bright and genuine—someone finally got them. It looks like fog, like snow, like clouds that move like the breath to help me know I’m alive. Let’s me see that even though I haven’t gotten it right yet, I see in my minds eye that I will. It looks like that same lover’s profile from the side with one eye mischievous and the other wandering.
It feels like yoga in the morning, popping my back while sitting up or lying down flopping one leg this way or that and the release of tension like dropping a heavy pack on a hike. It feels like my quadriceps in dancers pose, my back in camel pose, my hips in cobblers pose. It feels like that sweet spot of muscle, tendon, and relief. Happiness feels like the present moment finally letting go of the sadness of the past, the tenseness of the future. It feels like a warm bear hug from the heart where I can soften and come to love, come to understand love hurts like a splinter underneath a fingernail.
To be merry sounds like laughter, humming, singing that vibrates from the lungs and lips of friends. I always secretly hope those in my intimate circle like to whistle. It sounds like the phrase “little buddy” and “I love you, Jen.” It’s a southern drawl of comfort, a biscuit of the heartspace smothered in the gravy of tiny moments heard in the beginning of gut laughter, and a good story. It sounds like the breath inhaled right before the next in the ups and downs of contentment.
It smells like the very moment when a child hobbles in from recess smelling of metal, sand, asphalt, ketchup. It smells like dryer sheets and a simmered soup. It smells like Jovan musk and coal, coffee and cinnamon, like compost in the middle of decay. It smells like the gasoline of an old Ford truck. Like hair and my grandpa’s pillow. It smells like fish cleaned by my father, like garlic and antifreeze, like hot springs.
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
― Lewis Carroll