When I was a junior in high school I read “A Small, Good Thing” by Raymond Carver. I won’t spoil the ending, as it is a story that I definitely recommend you read; however, I will tell you this: no matter what the tragedy, there are always small, good things.
Here are some of my favorites —
- Tossing stones into the Sound.
During the first week of school I went on an impromptu Target run that turned into an impromptu stop at Black Bear and subsequent trip down to the water. It was the first time I’d been there since the fourth of July, when it was populated by half of Tacoma, dressed in red, white, and blue. It was calmer this time, more peaceful. My housemate and I sat on the rocks, pushed up by the water. He judged me for my pistachio frozen yogurt and we both threw rocks into the water and then sat and stared at the sky until the stars came out.
I’ve been back to the water a few times since then: once, late at night, after I finished my homework, but still had residual stress; during the Chinese Moon Festival, where I sat by the water with my friend, Andy, and ate noodles; on my birthday, wherein I happened to run into my friend, Gabe, who had walked down to the water on his own accord; and this past week, when Andy and I ate chicken noodle soup and pointed out seals in the water.
The beautiful thing about the water is that even though it’s always changing, it still stays the same.
- Fresh flowers.
Throughout my childhood, my mom would buy me flowers on my birthday. (She would occasionally admit that they were half for her, “I did do all of the work, you know.”) Since I’ve been in college, receiving flowers on my birthday has been limited to her buying herself flowers and telling me that I should also buy flowers. (Despite liking flowers, I’m awful at actually going about purchasing them.)
This year, on the Friday before my birthday, I received a package notification. Assuming it was some scarves that I asked my mom to send me, I picked up the package right before a group project meeting with a professor. No, instead, the package was a bouquet of roses. They were beautiful and I was amusingly stuck carrying them around for the next five hours.
- Cloudy days and sunshine.
Autumn skies have a tendency to cast a gray glow on everything, which is beautiful in its own right, but can occasionally appear vaguely dreary. In the Pacific Northwest, where rainy days outnumber blue skies, getting a rare bit of sunshine within a cloudy day is comforting. It’s a small and necessary reminder that the sun is there, even when you can’t see it.
- Warm chocolate chip cookies.
I made Banji eat a warm cookie from one of the first chocolate chip cookie batches I made this semester. He ate it and sounded a bit in awe, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a homemade chocolate chip cookie before.”
Each time the cookies are made, they’re gone within 24 hours. They disappear as a joint effort between my friends and housemates. There is a comfort in baking, it’s a way to be productive without thinking. Instead of worrying about something, I can focus on measuring and stirring and singing along to the music that is playing in the background. (My current favorite baking playlist is this one.)
- Fuzzy socks.
As someone who is almost constantly cold, I’m constantly wearing warm fuzzy socks. Each year, around Christmas, I buy a few pairs and wear them instead of slippers whenever I’m relaxing. I have a few variations from the Christmas themed socks, including a pair of giraffe toe socks.
I’ve discovered that it’s hard to feel upset when you’re wearing fun socks.
- Movies you watched on repeat when you were younger.
When I was about five years old my grandma gave me a VHS tape of the movie Meet Me In St. Louis. I fell in love with 1940’s Judy Garland and watched the movie more times than I can count. I’d embarrassingly sing along to the title track and then listen in silence as Judy Garland’s character sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to six year old Tootie.
Rewatching the movie brings me back to how I felt when I was seven years old and dancing around my living room and singing along. When I was fourteen and my friends and I watched it and laughed about how Warren Sheffield barged into the house, pointed at Rose, and said, “I love you.”
- Receiving a handwritten letter.
I am notoriously terrible at replying to letters. But I love receiving them. My two best friends, Emily and Maddy, are both currently studying abroad, in Dublin and Edinburgh, respectively. I talk to them both on a regular basis, via snapchat, email, and text, but there’s something heart-warming about receiving a letter from them.
They met up a few weeks ago and wrote a post-card together. I got it on my birthday and seeing their handwriting made it feel like they were here again. Made me miss them less.
- Homemade dinner.
Wednesday night, Andy decided to make spaghetti. Instead of going the typical route and making the dish with spaghetti noodles (which he had), he instead used elbow noodles, penne, and jumbo shell pasta. The dish was delicious and looked like a hilarious. After discovering macaroni noodles inside the jumbo shells, we both decided that next time, it’d be a good idea to just stick to one noodle type.
- A steaming hot cup of tea.
Every morning, without fail, I have a cup of English breakfast tea. It’s a routine I’ve fallen into, a routine I appreciate. The familiarity of it is calming, the taste refreshing. And I love it.
- Long hugs.