High-profile blogger launches attack on Basset Hound owners

IMG_5606The problem with Basset Hounds is they suck. If you’re a Basset lover, I’m not sorry for writing this, I’m sorry for you. Right now as you’re reading this there’s probably something you need to clean or repair, something that got eaten that shouldn’t have which you’ll need to deal with later. Bassets suck.

We were open to Basset Hounds, my mom and I. My stepdad John had them before we met, and we were surrounded by oil paintings and statues, portraits, pillows, bumper stickers: all for the love of the Basset, the one John had called Hercules, he’d bring to the pub and give a bowl of beer to and the dog would just sit there and drink until it slid off the stool…how John knew the vet from All Creatures Great and Small, the singer from Jethro Tull with his flute, how he adopted their Bassets or vice versa, it got spun and twisted like tape from an old cassette reel when it comes undone and I can’t remember what exactly, just how much he loved them, how his whole face glowed when Bassets came up: his gay friends Rob and Paul in London and their Bassets, how Rob with his bright red nose and owlish eyes would crouch down on the rug with a towel to wipe the insides of their ears and complain and scowl on how they fart, how they snore (but how great they are, truly!).

It started for me and my mom that day on the trail by the river in Germany we met Glen. An intricate network of leashes and treats and poop bags, carabiners, two Bassets (one English, one French): I made a joke generalizing about the two but it didn’t work, and Glen didn’t laugh.

We assumed he was German by some stereotypes we weren’t proud of, the angular glasses, the dour expression, the fact he barked commands auf Deutsch, well-practiced commands suggesting a formalized discipline, but to no effect. The hounds just flopped and flapped and pissed and fucked, and Ginger stood by to the side with me and my mom watching, wordless.

We soon learned he wasn’t German but American, had been there so long he’d started losing his American self, which can happen to expats because your nationality is a real part of yourself, you can forget it over time.

We knew his last name though, so when we got home we looked him up to learn more: he’d been a professional ballet dancer, chaired a department at the local university, conducted classical music performances (and was a widower, probably straight) — all of which seemed unusual and intriguing as we didn’t have much else going on in our lives; the characters around us just came and went like scenes from Fawlty Towers, with us right at the center, the front desk. And of course, he was a member of the local German Basset club, where they’d get together with other Basset people and their dogs, combing the trails along the Black Forest, stopping for frequent breaks with brandy, schnapps, smokes.

Glen had to go into surgery and because Dawn had given him my mom’s number (she was out with Ginger and ran into Glen one day), Glen called to ask if we could watch the Bassets while he was at the hospital, which seemed strange because we’d just met, and why couldn’t he ask someone else?

Glen had to go into surgery because the second time we met, for a dog date, to walk the dogs and talk, Glen suggested we get a coffee afterwards which we did, but while the Bassets were anchored to an umbrella stand on a patio and Glen was rolling a cigarette, mom and I watched the Bassets climb onto a baby stroller where some infant was having its ice cream and its mom looked up in horror as the hounds and their claws touched the fabric by the baby’s face and started licking it, and Glen shot up to respond but threw his knee out, complained it hurt so bad he couldn’t walk, and so I had to help him back to his car and drive for a bit because it was a manual, and we walked home, wondering what would happen, what we’d do, and I suggested we distance ourselves from him, it all felt fishy.

The time for his surgery fell right toward the end of our stay with my mom, a time we wanted to protect, to just lavish in our favorite things like cooking, drinking, and being left alone. But mom agreed and wrote it on the calendar, it was just for two nights, and it didn’t seem like too much, to help a guy who didn’t have anyone else to ask.

Glen explained the process for looking after the Bassets, said it was pretty straightforward: that one of them was “99% house-trained,” but it was really important you put rocks in their food when they ate because if you didn’t they’d eat too fast and their stomachs would flip over like a hammock and they’d die. (The rocks forced them to slow down and rethink things.) Now that’s one fucked-up breed, Dawn said, and we all laughed.

When the Bassets came it was like that scene from the Christmas film, the one with the Bumpus Hounds, when the hillbilly dogs from next door sneak into the kitchen and devour the turkey while it’s resting: Glen’s hounds had gotten onto mom’s table, right there with the Lazy Susan, and one of them wolfed down the butter, the good butter (the French kind), the President butter mom would leave out to soften. They got into Ginger’s food, Roxy’s food, our food, and then shat all over the rugs on the third floor outside the kids’ rooms, which is miraculous the kids didn’t step in any because it was everywhere and blended in, with much of the rugs already brown.

In the morning I let the dogs out but didn’t know they had to be on a leash at all times and they started to run away, and Dawn went chasing after them and smacked her head on the medieval doorway and I laughed, because I’d done that myself a thousand times, but she saw me laugh and then I became the ass even though it was the dogs’ fault (or mom’s for agreeing to it, or Dawn’s for giving Glen her number, or Glen for having the surgery, for pretending it’s normal to have pets like that).

When we picked up Glen at the hospital we had the dogs in the back and Charlotte next to me, and their hair everywhere, their slobber: and Glen’s color was bad, he was ashen, on crutches, and a part of me hated him, an ember that could burn all night, and well into the morning. He hinted we should go for a coffee or something but mom and I were tight-lipped and prepped with speaking points and key messages, other plans and commitments.

Mom and I talk often and email too, and she tells me how things are in Besigheim, how she went with Glen on one of those Basset club outings and it wasn’t so bad, how she met Glen’s son and likes him, how they’ve gotten to know each other better and it’s all good (she even had the Bassets back to the house and didn’t mind too much).

And here in Sammamish, in our garage where all things go to die, the unwanted artwork and kids’ toys, the record collections and cassettes, there’s a stack of framed art I need to mend and one, a painting our English friend Paul did of two Bassets, probably John’s, some sweet pose with their long, sad eyes, the frame broken, that I keep because it belonged to John but I don’t think I’ll ever get it fixed — some things can’t be repaired, aren’t worth fixing.

Today’s the anniversary of my last post in the States before we flew to Germany for nine months last year: check it out for sentimental sake, or the first time.

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Three hundred and seventy-four words

Lily texts me, something like Dad, where’s the money you gave me for dinner?, which pisses me off and I write back right away, the immediacy of it, YOU TELL ME where the money is (I gave it to you, I watched you put it in your pocket, check the right one). Write back and tell me you haven’t lost it. Thirty dollars! No one needs $30 for dinner. I gave her the money so she could pay back the church because she said she would go to the water park but then changed her mind since there weren’t any kids her age going, just teenagers, and the park is like an hour away, and our minds flashed to Lily (11) in her swimsuit, unattended, her first month or so with a flip phone, the myriad threats we know exist but can’t entertain they’re so horrible, and agree it would be better if she just came home after her shift (youth volunteer counselor assistant, Vacation Bible School): and that would be easier, the four of us just going to the lake or doing something as a family…but instead, when I go to pick her up she says actually, there ARE kids her age going and can she please go, and her eyes make a cartoon, exaggerated shape when she asks, she bounces, claps her hands like a seal barking for a fish, and I act like an ass, like I’m pissed off and drag my butt back up the parking lot to the teenager who’s in charge, don’t even know her name, unsure of the details but they’re leaving in 20 minutes, Lily needs me to run back home and get her a suit, a packed lunch, which I do (I say keep the money I gave you earlier and use it for dinner, knowing it’s too much but more’s probably better): and when I return with her backpack and a note with our numbers in case her phone dies she says thanks, I ask her to text me later to tell me how it’s going, which she does, and I walk back to the car and it’s very quiet getting inside, driving home, and this is right when it all starts, I think.


December ’10

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The motivations of a ghost


West coast of Ireland, 2009

When I took my first sabbatical in 2009, I left in July and came back mid-November. With the way it worked, you could go for up to six months and return to your old position but after that, and up to a year, you had to work your way into something comparable by applying, with no guarantee, which seemed like too much stress and ran counter to the feeling of letting go I wanted. So I opted for 4.5 months — July for backpacking, three months in Europe, a couple weeks at the end in the States. On my first day back I had a blow-out on the interstate and had to wait a good hour for the tow truck, and stand there on the shoulder watching how fast people drive, a Monday morning in mid-November with all that rain: the time in Seattle it really earns its bad weather reputation and deserves it.

When I got into the office my socks were wet and I was late, which looked bad returning from sabbatical, but I learned I’d be leading the same project I had when I left, they just doubled the goal and kept the name the same: a name I worked hard to change but couldn’t, also the name of a popular female contraceptive, a day-after pill, pointed out by some women on the project who suggested we rethink it: and when I left that group several months later to join another, I learned they had a project with that name too but it meant something different (and equally ominous), a business decision meant to go away quickly and quietly.

I accepted an offer for the new job in April but it was the same day Dawn found a house she was really excited about and so we drew up an offer of our own, which over-shadowed the news about my new job but didn’t matter, and when we arrived at the house for the first time I watched the kids run to the swings and decided I’d take a picture of the look on Charlotte’s face and try to save that in my mind forever, it felt like something worth saving.

They welcomed me in the new workgroup ad nauseam, which was really nice but grew tiresome it was so nice, and there was a house plant and card everyone signed, a detailed immersion binder, and after a month or so of this I got two new projects, held a kick-off meeting in late August but it was hard to get everyone together at that time of year with all the vacations, there were 20-some people and I hadn’t taken enough time with my business owner beforehand so that took up more of the meeting than it should have, her wrapping her head around the project — and though I’d led a coffee tasting and paired it with some really nice cheese, at the end of it I hadn’t met my objectives, which my boss pointed out nicely but it stung, and I guess for about four years I went back and forth trying to decide if I was in the right place, an arm wrestle in my head I couldn’t seem to win, trusting other people’s perceptions over my own.

By my standards I didn’t do as well on those first two projects as I should have, so I volunteered for a third one thinking maybe it was the projects that were flawed, not me — and it was my work on that one that got me nominated for a fourth, which was bigger than all of them combined, so I went on that project 100% but it was like the emperor’s new clothes, I couldn’t figure out why I was on it even though everyone else seemed to know, and this went on for about two years until I rolled off, and needed some rebound projects to flush the last one out of my system, to clear the air.

As it drew down to the end I wrote a few blog posts to capture how badly I felt, the conflict I had not being present with my family, acting distracted and unhappy, probably not worth being around anyway. I realize now why it was so hard for me to connect to anything because I’d lost the connection with myself, I had to relearn the lesson that so much of who we are is what we do.

I was somewhere very far away in a hammock in a breeze when my body jerked and I realized I’d been dreaming, that way the body jerks like it’s trying to catch itself from falling, trying to save itself from being taken away at the last minute.

I was circling the stairwell in a parking garage either going up or down I couldn’t tell, and the dream narrator (who never talks, doesn’t have to) let me know it was my old workplace, which meant I needed my security badge but it didn’t work anymore, I had no business being there now — these scenes from dreams like the script for a ghost, half-hearted performances, but strangely resemble our waking lives, our going through the motions, trying to find or mend something we can’t, trapped in time, unable to move on, fixed on a life only partly remembered in the past.

In the hammock in the breeze the way the sun lights the leaves and makes a swishing sound back and forth, I thought how perfect all this could be, if only for how I see things.


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Yoda’s coat


Trader Joe’s, SE Portland, Father’s Day promotion

The vet with eyes a bit out of proportion to the rest of her head, a cartoon owl who talks too fast at high tones, she takes us through what we missed this past winter when we were in the UK and the temperatures were so mild the hookworms are more aggressive now, which means we have to augment our monthly parasite medication with a liquid, banana-flavored treatment that’s given orally but doesn’t taste so bad her assistant says, she had it by accident treating a dog who just spit some right in her mouth and she swallowed it, tasted alright! The vet describes the symptoms of hookworm, not much worse than a skin irritation but it does have a serpentine quality, which reminds me of Harry Potter and the Dark Mark when Voldemort summons his followers, a tattoo along the wrist with a skull and a snake in its mouth: and it’s true what our German vet said about Ginger’s incontinence stemming from being spayed too young, her vulva didn’t come out right that first heat cycle (they leave them intact there longer, she says).

I finally got the nerve to open the Moleskins from Europe, the two I used to rewrite my memoir starting in Galway mid-December, that thins out once we return to Germany mid-March, and starts stream-of-consciousness with mind maps and not much white space; it takes me back to that apartment in Galway so sparse and fitting for our moods, how we were coming apart as a family and the weather was especially bad, the mid-point of 12 weeks on the road around the UK homeschooling, too much of each other and not enough routine — how I got lost on a short walk by our flat that first day, lost in the folds of Salthill outside Galway but too proud and stubborn to ask for help, I just kept going until I found a strip of retail that felt strangely like the Jersey shore, how I remembered the boardwalk, an arcade with kids’ games, ice cream for sale, still open in December — that’s when I decided to try the memoir with a fiction wrapper instead and switch the perspective from first person to third, and it’s freeing me up to pull in more from my past (all with the help of a mask).

But I put it on hold after that first week to take time off for Christmas and let it incubate, and thought with The Force Awakens debut, the fact we’d emerged on the west side of the Ring of Kerry, where they’d filmed the final scene for the movie and it really does feel like another planet — that it meant something auspicious but at the same time unreal, all of it tied somehow to me, our lives, our story.

The Moleskins had dust on them they’d sat so long, they kind of scowled at me, neglected, months without sunlight or water — and though I’d written every day in January throughout England, I’d found a hundred reasons to put it off once we got back to Germany: February was a month of transition settling back into my mom’s; March, already imagining ourselves back in the States; May, another transition at my mother-in-law’s waiting to get back into our house — June, settling back in — and now with it July, I’d run out of excuses. I told myself I should wait until I get a new job, but I think I want to do that even less than rewrite my novel.

I had no expectation of ever making money with it, couldn’t even imagine that, wasn’t sure I wanted to. But I wanted to write something people would relate to, that would make them reconsider themselves and how they live, to fulfill something good in me I imagined, and the only way to do that was to write it, and let it go.

The one Moleskin has a Harry Potter theme I bought at the studio outside London that’s embossed with symbols from The Deathly Hallows on the covera triangle with a circle in the center, a wand dividing it in half. It has the artwork from the film on the inside cover, the three brothers who cheated Death, that’s done in the style of the 1930s filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, black and white films with spidery figures, the ones we brought our kids up on, Hansel and Gretel, ‘Aschenputtel.’

Loren visits with his 4-year-old son Arthur and gets into my Star Wars figures, the ones I keep in the Darth Vader case where the head opens when you undo the clasp and there’s a spot for each figure inside, 1980 original edition. But Yoda’s lost his staff, the orange snake around his neck; Obi-Wan, his light saber, all of them in fact: there’s just a hollow spot in the arms where they hid their sticks, pink, orange, red, and blue — and the color of the sabers means something I’ve heard, I get the sense it’s like Harry Potter where the wand chooses you, there’s some connection between the weapon and its master, the stories hidden inside stories.

Arthur appears with a bow he’s made from a plastic clothes hanger and an elastic hairband from one of my girls as a string, rubber erasers for arrows, and he’s dragging something across the garage floor with the bow that looks balled up and matted, hairy like a dead shrew, but Loren just smiles and says, it’s Yoda’s coat.

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I sat with the same sadness I fell in love with

DSC_0214The buzz of some lawn equipment and jets overhead, when it stops the birds fill in. The hammock between two ponderosa pines on the outskirts of our property, a two-person version that kind of swallows you, I hold my book up in the air and doze. The kids have outgrown their sleeping bags and I can’t resist the comparison to a chrysalis, the same shape. It seems like they didn’t even have them that long, and one day it was too small. Lily got the hand-me-down of my first bag from the 90s, the one Pokey peed on and I thought the smell would never come out, but one day it just did. The summer we drove here from Philadelphia in my girlfriend’s Toyota with the cats in the back, the jade plants and mix tapes in their shoe boxes jiggling: camping with the cats in the Badlands of South Dakota, both of them on valium and mystified by the tent fabric pawing it, probably the night Pokey peed.

My sudden and constant awe of summers in the Pacific Northwest that started 20 years ago that June we moved here, the fact it never gets above the 70s and at night, it actually gets cold if you leave the windows open, bizarre. People selling espresso out of carts on the street and what was stranger, all the people in line waiting. Renting time on a computer in half hour increments at an internet café unsure what to do, just thinking I should be there because everyone else was: finding a pen pal in a primitive chat room where people talked about the band The Fall, listening to one of the tapes he mailed me from Liverpool in my garage and thinking it sounds boozy and raw but good, out of focus, that sense anything could happen and most times it did, when they played — and the reason I can’t part with my tapes or my discs is I remember when I got each one, and want to think there’s a part of me there still.

Taking the kids to their last swim class at the Y, I realize I haven’t watched them swim once these past two weeks and it’s my last chance to do so — and it’s like a film of their childhood but with no sound, watching them talk to each other through the glass with their teacher: I wave and give a thumbs up, but can’t tell if they see me with their goggles on, and wonder if the window’s frosted or one-way, because they don’t wave back.

We drive to SeaTac to get Dawn, home from a business trip and finally able to settle in to summer with her workload reduced, and the kids are on her like burrs talking over each other vying for her attention which is never enough, they don’t realize you can’t get it back.

We listen to the last rockabilly, boogie, rhythm and blues show the DJ’s hosting after 30 years, and he’s non-sentimental even when he’s prodded by others in the booth, and the show goes by faster than you would think it would and at the end, there’s a moment when they all sign off, they go around in a circle, Leon and the others he does the show with, but the radio goes silent and you can tell they’re all choked up, the radio silence is longer and deeper, it has a weight only silence can.

From the underside of the pines the sun gets through and it makes everything go gold at the end of the day — and on the other side it lights up the moon, a reversal of fortune as one goes down the other comes up — and we suck down the dusk like it’s just some fruit so we don’t have to look at it again in the morning.

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Look what phase the moon got into

IMG_6086I still have the handwritten note from the guy who refinished our hardwoods when we moved into this house in 2010: how to clean them, the right ratio of vinegar to water, don’t over-wet the mop. His name was Roy Birdsall and soon after meeting he let me know he was in recovery, climbing Mount Rainier that summer with a group, and it was easy to see the parallels between giving up alcohol and climbing mountains, I knew about both, and wasn’t good at either.

Mopping the hardwoods, going against the grain, elbow grease: an assistant I had at that knock-off Starbucks in Pittsburgh by Carnegie Mellon, ex-Navy with buggy eyes who wore turtle necks when it was hot and got whiteheads around the neckline, razor burns, who talked about his mom when we were mopping one night, how someone told her the key to getting things really clean is just a bit of Elbow Grease, and how she went into the hardware store asking if she could buy some.

Having a man-to-man talk with Jim before I knew how, the way he looked at some of the girls on our staff, that maybe he hadn’t been in the private sector long enough, that you just can’t look at women that way, especially when they report to you. Catching him in the dish room huffing whipped cream canisters and not knowing what to say or do (he wasn’t my hire, but my boss’s, who saw something in him I didn’t).

The harmonica player Stuart who’d lived in Amsterdam and had eyes like a frog. Fletcher Kolhausen, who I had to write up more than once for not shaving; it became a punk rock thing between me and Fletch, the shaving policy, his anger with The Establishment. I belonged on his side of the fence. The boy named Jeffrey who started making himself up like a girl with subtle touches and looked better when he did, more himself. A guy named Darren who had long, beautiful hair but knew it: blond, Fairy Tale hair, not sure he knew what to do without it.

We had a cockroach infestation in the espresso machine which wasn’t good, having them spill out and scatter like that on the countertop with all the jars of biscotti and the Italian syrups. But we learned they like warm, dark places and congregate there, hunker down until they’re discovered.

Having to can the small business owner who made tabbouleh, hummus and salads for the lunch case but couldn’t get his margins down for the new owners. Meeting with my boss’s boss from Corporate about a prospect to open five new company stores in Philadelphia but not knowing a damn thing about how to negotiate anything, including re-lo. Renting a truck for the drive from Pittsburgh to our new apartment in North Philly, the Sponge Factory, off 5th and Girard, decidedly non-white. How the guys hanging around the gas station descended on our car like flies when we stopped to pump. Prostitutes, attendants working behind bulletproof glass when you paid. Smoke from the building across the street we thought was on fire but learned it’s just the bums cooking the pigeons. Walking to the El and getting off at my shift in Mantua, West Philly, home to the highest number of violent crimes in America that year. Realizing our neighbor, the building manager, was borderline, using her key to get into our apartment while we were gone and borrowing things. Not knowing how to confront her for fear of repercussion. Abandoning the Toyota Celica I got in Pittsburgh when the city of Philadelphia threatened to tow it. Having them track me down years later wanting more in fines than I paid for the car. Two or three photos I have of that apartment moving in or out, I can’t tell, it looks bare: ceilings so high we had a loft like a treehouse for reading, accent lights. That summer it was so hot we had to put the cats in the shower, they were throwing up from the heat. Washing the bedding every morning, damp from sweat. Dragging the Christmas tree down the steps like a corpse by the feet that snow storm and meeting a Puerto Rican in the alley smoking a joint, both of us up to our thighs in the powder coughing. Borrowing Mike’s cell phone to find an apartment in Seattle that would rent to us. Taking the photos down my girlfriend hung before she got home and her realizing why, holding each other, saying goodbye. Finding my own place and buying an unfinished table from IKEA, a manual typewriter, mixing martinis. Saving messages on the answering machine from girl-prospects and replaying them to decipher meaning. Announcing I’m leaving my job and moving back East to watch my mom and John’s house while they move to France, going there myself in June, not sure when I’ll be back. Sending a text to Dawn, in Toronto, re: the phase of the moon tonight, that it will be that much fuller when you return.

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Backwards on the carousel

IMG_6130I don’t know the stages of grief but it appears our animals are in one now, some sad acceptance their lives aren’t as good here as they were in Germany. They don’t like their food even though it’s the same they had before we left, or perhaps they don’t like the feeder. I microwaved leftover steak for Ginger, New York strip, and though she wolfed it down it made her feisty and nippy afterwards, some primal part of her reawakened. The cat takes to the paté with savagery, simulating muscle tissue as she yanks at it, paces the doorway wanting out, walks the gravel road with a swagger, like a colleague I knew who walked the same way, his arms from the shoulder sockets swung like rope.

The dog sulks, the cat broods in the dark of the garage listening for small sounds, ears like Venus flytraps. So with all the malaise, the natural response from the family is to buy more! — to get more pets to entertain the old ones, restock, reload.

I’m keeping the kids like the pets a bit hungry, running a tight ship. No one needs called twice when it’s feeding time, they don’t act inconvenienced like whatever preoccupation consuming them is a higher priority than mine, the communal act of feeding, us hunched over our bowls masticating, slurps off our cups and burps caught mid-air: that eating could be restored to a necessary rite and not an indulgence, that we could learn to arrest our gluttony and stop before we’re full Siddhartha-style, Stoics. That we could stretch the food in the fridge and keep track of every uneaten morsel, the scraps and the bits, and reincorporate it all Depression-era style into sauces and soups. To teach my kids that nothing gets poured out unless it’s obviously gone off, even if it has hairs.

It’s with the same spirit I started shopping the outskirts of the grocery aisles scavenging for deals, things at the edge of their freshness like chili peppers good for freezing, to liven-up the lentils — milk near its end, chicken that smells like chicken but still appears to be OK.

At day’s end with Dawn gone the five of us bed down in one of their rooms, me, Lily and Charlotte, the dog and the cat: and because it’s cold we burrow in and leave the Big Band radio program going all night to transport ourselves in time and place somewhere none of us know anything about but imagine it must be better, it’s foreign.

Keeping most of the books displayed in the garage to soften the edges, to imbue the space with a spirit of wonder for all those words buried inside their spines and backs. We’re holding an area free in the family room where the books used to be for an old piano from Beth’s that’s heavy as hell, mottled, sorely out of tune and full of ghosts, messages in a bottle. I reposition the family photos, the greatest hits collection, dream fragments, some as distant, half-forgotten now: my grandmother and grandfather in black and white, granddad stone-faced and startled, not expecting to be caught on film like that: nana, forever alive in the frame, a hundred million lives to follow but none resembling the last one in that rehabilitation center groping to connect her thoughts with her speech, trapped inside this mortal coil.

My college graduation photo, dad recently remarried with his new wife and my mom on opposite ends of each other, my aunt and uncle in the middle smiling, hopeful, all the promise and bewilderment of what comes next, a summer in Ocean City, Maryland with nothing to gain or lose, safe. The kids sprouting in little blooms with smiles and packages and poses, learning to be. Dawn and I lost in each other’s eyes, newly married. The New Year’s we cooked a cassoulet when we had more time than kids, idealized scenes, Lily first reading: friends, mountains, beaches, pets, our forbears. Times we tried to get away from it all, anywhere. Cells of our souls in portrait and landscape gone crooked, sometimes needing adjusted.

We end a run of swim lessons at the Y and me, an Updike book of memoir set not far from where we lived in southeast Pennsylvania: all the pretty ways things can be said, the going out and coming around of story-telling, long loops made with sewing needles, the pricks and nicks along the way. And the parents emerge with their kids around the corner freshly showered with their towels now and somewhere else to be coaxing them along to please hurry, get your coats, it’s time to go.

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