Wednesday, February 13, 2019

a moment in the day: wheels

I pull up to the curb and sit a minute, listening. I rarely listen to music on my commute to work, but today I impulsively grabbed a John Lennon CD, and now I’m just sitting here listening to the wheels go round and round, and I don’t want to turn it off. But I got a late start and I should go in.

Listening to John Lennon makes me feel my childhood in a very visceral way. It makes my body feel weekend trips to the lake, feel myself lying in bed at night unable to go to sleep until I reach the end of the Beatles tape I’m listening to… that one vivid memory I have of riding to the dentist with Mom behind the wheel of the van, and Lennon singing, nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days, indeed. Most peculiar, Mama.

I have only a memory of a memory of a memory of the day he died. My mom on the phone crying. Talking to my aunt Kathy. I wasn’t even at my peak personal Beatlemania yet when that happened. With as obsessed as I was, as a kid, with all things John, Paul, George, and Ringo, I know that part of that obsession was my wanting to love everything my mom loved.

I turn off the car, grab my bags. Cross the street in a rain so fine it’s like walking through a memory of rain.

There's a heaviness under my ribcage.

My childhood is so far away.

It’s strange to think that I am so much older than he would ever be.

Open the door to the office and walk down the hall to the time clock. Punch my numbers in, in the tiny rhythm I always do.

Shave and a haircut. Two bits.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

a moment in the day: knife

I open the front door, dog in one arm, in time for Stephen, just home from work and the store, to head up the walk toward me with his grocery bag. As he reaches the steps to the porch, he glances down at the little pocket knife sitting on our top step.

That thing has been sitting there for two weeks. We came home one night after the theater and found it sitting there. It's kind of creepy to find a pocket knife on your step. You try to pretend a friend lost it or it belongs to your postman who keeps it on his key chain in case of mail emergencies, but it seems more likely that a thief tried to jimmy the lock and got scared off, leaving his tool of trade behind.

Two weeks, and neither Stephen nor I has moved the pocket knife. I don't know why. Part of it for me might be that it feels like a tiny, evil thing that I wouldn't want to touch. That thief's tool of trade. It's not like it's diseased. But I don't know what I'd do with it if I did pick it up. It's not like I'd want to use it since it's not mine. And I don't like throwing things away.

Part of it is that it feels fitting sitting there, this tiny, evil thing. After the tiny, evil start to our year, with Stephen's middle-of-the-night fall out of bed and then the ER and then Urgent Care and then my mammogram and my followup mammogram and my followup biopsy - just too many trips to the doctor and too many worries in too short a time for us both.

And part of it is that it's become familiar, this thing I always see. The other day I came up the steps and didn't see it. For a second, my brain felt disappointed and then I noticed it was still there, just off to the left a bit, lying perpendicular to the porch instead of slanty. I wondered how it got moved.  I felt possessive of it: Who moved my tiny, evil pocket knife?

Sometimes I wonder if Stephen just doesn't notice it. I mean, we both saw it that first night but maybe he's just forgotten about it and hasn't noticed it since. It's very small. But he notices everything. How can you not notice a knife sitting on your porch step? Maybe he notices it and leaves it there like me. But if so, why? It seems so unlike him, not to tidy something up.

Now, grocery bag on one arm, he clearly notices it. He takes a step up, toward it.

I'm afraid he'll pick it up and this will all be over.

With one foot, he gives a nudge to the pocket knife.

Just one nudge.

"It should be slanty," he tells me.

He hefts the grocery bag up the last step to the porch and follows me through the door.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

a moment in the day: the difference between us

Just about ready to leave for work, Stephen asks, "Do you have any fives? Can you make change for a twenty?"

I grab my bag and start hunting around. "I don't know. I know I gave Doug three fives on Thursday. Ooh!"

I pull one out.

I hunt some more. A one. A ten. A receipt.

Past the checkbook, past the folded up directions to somewhere I probably don't need to go again.


I pull one out.

A chapstick. Another chapstick.

A two dollar bill that I'll never spend because two dollar bills are cool.

Past my one set of sunglasses. Past my second set of sunglasses that looks exactly like the first set of sunglasses that I thought I'd lost once but hadn't.

"Oh, hey!"

I pull one out.

Past old, used theater tickets, an old, used airline ticket, doggy poop bags, another receipt, a gift card that might have some money on it, an old packaged tiny biscotti from an airplane that I just might need if I ever get trapped on an elevator.

A one.

A one.

A one.

A one.

And down at the very bottom:


I pull it out and add it to the pile.

Stephen grins and pulls out his wallet. "Excellent! OK, here. Wait." He leafs through bills in the wallet. Finds the twenty.

"It was filed in the wrong place," he says.

He hands me the bill. I take it. I feign distress. "It was filed in the wrong place?" I say.

I look into the bottomless pit of my bag and toss the twenty in.