Saturday night the wind blew and blew -- knocking the kids' labeled Solo cups off of the counter above the kitchen sink, scattering loose pages of sheet music from the piano, and, finally, cooling our house from the 79 degrees it had sat at all day (though not nearly as quickly as it might have had our home so much as a single window on its east side). A stepping stool braced our bedroom door open against the wall (so the wind wouldn't rattle it around or bang it shut and wake little Hansie [who is nearly the size of his bassinet now and probably ready to be moved to a crib in the boys' room]). And the sound of our neighbor's wind chimes kept blowing in through our open windows -- making me nostalgic for my dad's old office.
It sat snugly in the topmost corner of our home (just across the landing from our huge attic and up the same flight of stairs that, when we were little and would come to tell him dinner was ready, he would carry us down -- letting us turn the lights off with our toes). It's where he typed, graded papers, listened to the likes of Mahler on KBYU-FM; and kept a couch for brief naps for him, and constant visits from his children. He used to hand me a sheet of typing paper and a red or black felt-tip marker so I could draw (using the manilla writing board he kept tucked by the side of his couch). One time, when I had just learned, vaguely, the concept of tithing, I went to his office requesting that he give me some money I could use as a tithe. He smiled, explained the law more clearly, but gave me a quarter for tithing all the same. It's where I went when, about to enter first grade, I was worried about what I would do if every kid had a pencil on their desk and I didn't, and when I fretted I wouldn't be able to find my family on the grand morning of the resurrection, and when I was heartbroken over having been told unicorns didn't exist. And, in later years, I came occasionally to talk, or to ask for a priesthood blessing, but more often simply to lie on his couch, listen to his fingers tapping away on his type-writer (and, eventually, computer keypad), and escape the noise and bustle of our busy home.
In the winter the office was kept warm by a little, old electric heater that turned off and on, off and on (the coils -- heating up red with a strange little vibrating buzz, and going off again with a characteristic click). In the summer, in absence of any AC, the heavy sliding glass door that lead out onto his small deck (from where you could look towards Ogden canyon and catch glimpses of El Monte golf course) was always open, and in the evenings -- when the canyon winds started up (which it seemed they always did) -- his various wind chimes would sound and ring. One time, in early college when I had grown too old (I felt) to go back to sharing a room with siblings, and when the house was extra full with friends needing a home and married siblings in transition (building homes, searching for jobs, etc.), he gave his office up for me. I never should have let him of course, but I was young and self-absorbed: blithely oblivious to the sacrifice it must have been. And so, his couch was replaced with a bed, his deck and view became mine, his desk for writing novels turned into my spot for studying the nervous system and fruit fly genotypes; and, for the next year, I slept to the sound of either that little heater, or wind and chimes from the open deck door (which, being two stories up, felt fairly safe to leave ajar all night).
Association is an interesting thing though! All of this from a windy evening and the sound of a neighbor's wind chimes. I am liking this realization about . . . oh, I don’t know . . . our likes and preferences very often being more than simply surface, uninteresting, bits of information; rather: small evidences of having lived and experienced; proofs of having grown and become more through a complex and intertwining number of emotions and events. What did I know about wind chimes after eons in the eternities after all? Nothing. Surely nothing at all. Ah. But now I know. Now I know! It’s no wonder we morning stars sang for joy when our Father presented his plan for us to come here. No wonder we fought with our brother Christ for the opportunity to experience the full range of what that would entail. No wonder we will praise them both forever and ever after all of this! For wind chimes and Solo cups blowing off of counters and a million other small things that remind us of what we know and what we have become that we never knew or could have been before.