On the corner of 13th and Speer, a leftward glance showed a lone balcony strung with multicolored lights, defiant yet joyous and bright with hope. Or maybe it was just electricity. In buildings like these, hope leaves for the coast and the landlord takes his checks right from the city. Utilities are included and washer/dryers a luxury. I have no doubt that inside, I’d find carpet of the “nothing special beige” tone, white appliances and a tub that drains slower than congested sinuses. The Christmas tree, however…
it would be real. Plastic ones are spendy.
This is the house where Wouldn’ts rule the season.
Beginning on the balcony with the lights you wouldn’t expect to see and stretching inward to a tree that wouldn’t fit in the elevator and had to be carried up the stairs. The ornaments wouldn’t match and Pottery Barn wouldn’t approve. The star wouldn’t be what you would expect – maybe an array of tiny drink umbrellas like the four-year-old Isabel used at last night’s Redheaded holiday eve. Some of the lights work while the others wouldn’t, but the tree is mostly aglow and that’s good enough.
This holiday, wouldn’t it be better to sit in front of a friends than a tree? To exchange expressions of love and laughter that last beyond a manufacturer’s warranty? To find that place where hope should have hit the last plane for Tahiti yet stuck around like a half-buzzed bargoer, running on faith for a last-minute hookup before last call?
It’s said that hope floats, but I think it really does so much more. It elevates, perseveres and lifts you more than any prayer. It’s the audacity to believe in the fairy tale and surround yourself with possibility. On the corner of 13th and Speer, I saw a better year than mine during 2009 strung-up in multicolored lights, and I’ve no room for complaint. I saw smiles from people I’ll never know reflected in ornaments I’ll never see as they eat food I’ll never taste and sing carols to which I don’t know the words. And this Christmas, wouldn’t it be great if there were a corner of 13th and Speer wherever you live that you could drive by at nightfall and see hope up-close?
It’s the best. And it’s not under any tree.