As I cooked dinner tonight in the kitchen and Luke was doing all he could to pull the pan off the stove and Hannah sat crying on the floor because the onions were burning her eyes, I called for Tim and asked him to “save me” by lighting a fire in the living room fireplace. It would be the first fire of the year and I thought it would be an entertaining activity for the kids and the perfect complement to the first big snowfall of the winter. He took me up on my request and the kids skipped after him newspaper and kindling in hand.
I’ve always loved a fire. In our many years together in NYC Tim and I always dreamed of living in an apartment with a fire place. I probably would have actually opted for a fire place over a dishwasher or washing machine if it became an option (as it turns out I sadly never had any of these perks in the apartments we resided in, but that’s for another post). Something about the romanticism of the crackling flames, the blanket spread out in front of the hearth and the image of easy conversation with a glass of wine in hand. A fire always brought me to a dreamy place, even if just in my mind.
Now we do live in a house with a gorgeous fireplace which happens to be in my most favorite room in our house. It’s the one room I decorated from scratch. There is not one piece of furniture that I received as a hand-me-down from a family member or that made the journey from New York. It was all my choice, my creation (with a little inspirational help from a certain designer MIL), my vision. There’s also no TV in this room so it’s so beautifully quiet. I walk into this room and I am overwhelmed with a sense of calm.
A fire also brings back crystal clear memories from my childhood. Spreading out a sleeping bag in front of the stone fireplace, newly picked sticks from outside in hand, bag of marshmallows by our side. We’d sit and roast marshmallows to the perfect crispness and enjoy our treat with sticky fingers and sticky smiles. I don’t remember the conversation attached to the activity but I remember feeling Happy. Tonight after dinner was cooked I entered the living room and felt a huge smile spread across my face as I saw every cushion and pillow from the couches and chairs spread out on the floor and two little red faced heads peaking out from blankets enjoying the warmth from the new blaze. There were a stack of books sitting by Hannah that she planned on having me read to her and a few newly received Chanukah toys sitting by Luke to keep him busy. But they were untouched because all either one of them wanted to do was sit and look at the flames. Happy. It was a moment filled with Happy. And I clicked a picture of it in my head. It is one I won’t easily forget.
And right now I am here in my favorite chair in front of the fire still. Both kids are sleeping, maybe dreaming of the fire they helped to build and the snow they most likely will wake up to. Tim is in the family room watching TV. And I am here. Alone in front of the fire. It’s perfect. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. It’s almost therapeutic. The cushions are still spread out on the floor, one still with a small indent from where Hannah’s head lay only 2 hours ago. I am smiling picturing her instructing Luke where exactly to lay and gently covering him with the blanket (which shockingly he allowed).
I’m sure Tim will join me momentarily. He’ll sit across from me in the identical chair I sit in and we’ll talk. We’ll talk about how perfect this setting is. With the kids. With each other. And I probably won’t admit how much I also love it alone. Because it’s hard to admit loving to be by yourself. At least I find it hard to admit. But sometimes, when the company of what’s inside my head makes me feel like I’m in a crowd, I find it most pleasant to sit in a quiet space like this. Without anything. Or anyone. Just me and the fire’s flame that is dying down, but still snapping small sparks from the log and dancing to its own quiet beat. Soon, the flame will disappear and will be replaced with a small chill. And I’ll be ready to leave my haven and head back to reality. I’ll be ready for conversation and companionship. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the simple, quiet company of the small, orange fading flame and not mind that there’s no one at this moment enjoying it with me.