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When Matt and I lived in San Francisco, we would occasionally feel beat down by Muni, noise, traffic, and the prohibitive cost and competitiveness of the city. The feelings grew stronger as more and more of our friends moved away. Then we’d have what we termed a “This is why we live here” moment that would buy us more time feeling satisfied.

Most often, these moments came in the form of a walk up from our Richmond District home to Lake Street, into Sea Cliff, down Camino del Mar, and to Land’s End, where we’d take in the view of  the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands and feel rejuvenated by the sheer beauty of the place. If it was dusk and the bridge was lit up, the feeling was even more magical. In these moments I was hyper aware of living in a post-card and felt privileged to be able to do so.

Now that we’re back in Kentucky, the stress comes from sources like allergens, mosquitoes, leaky basements, winter heating bills, and the car-centric nature of the Midwest. But we have our “this is why we live here” moments in Kentucky, too. They just tend to come from humbler sources.

Most often, and most recently, they hit on summer evenings after a day spent watching Simon in the thrall of cousins or grandparents. Inevitably the day will wrap at twilight, at that magical moment when the light from the setting sun is equal to the light from fireflies as they illuminate a hosta or spark a part of the neighbor’s lawn. Some days we can catch a glimpse from our porch, others we watch from Simon’s bedroom while one of us holds him up to his window.

This isn’t postcard living. But our summer “this is why we live here” moments can be an awful lot like living in a painting. Specifically, this one:

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

The subject and secondary light sources vary, but the feeling evoked is very much the same for me. Realizing I’ve gone from a postcard to a Sargent makes me rethink the humbleness of this new inspiration. I suppose whether the source be singular or quotidian, magic is still magic. I’ll take it.

One Response to “The Why We Live Here Moment”

  1. Amanda says:

    That’s one of my favorite paintings. The shame is that no reproduction does it justice–you have to see it in the Tate to really get the effect of the light and the fluorescence. Last night I was meditating on the fact that some people never grew up with the magic of fireflies, and feeling terribly sorry for them. My favorite time of day is that point when the sun is down, and all the whites seem to glow from the inside. And the fireflies start their nightly dance, and I can hear the neighborhood owl in his tree.

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