Roxy’s not that smart. Her name is Roxy, she’s a cat, sister to the other one. She stands in the light of the laundry room while I feed Ruby, quarter to six. She stands there looking at me while the other one wolfs down her food. She’s waiting for me to pick her up and put her there, which makes you wonder who’s smarter.
I push myself out of bed, wondering how I’ll feel: the bath, the toilet, the closet, the cat dish, the dog, the laptop, the coffee, the kiss goodbye and the walk out the door…the day. The return: the greeting, the beer, dinner, the clean-up, getting ready for bed…goodnight.
It’s too bad we have to demarcate the weekend. We need to rush here and then it’s never enough. The mind-fuck that is work, if you let it. The electrician we hired who’s had five heart-attacks from all the years of overnight jobs, has to take his time walking down the steps because his knees are shot. That’s the kind of work that kills you, not the white collar stuff, it shouldn’t.
I push myself out of bed, but take my time with the quiet moments in the dark, soft music, sometimes a candle, staring into space, waiting. I know people who check their work email but I don’t, just a glimpse into the personal stuff, a glance at the weather. I’m not on the clock until I get there; it takes enough from me as it is.
My friend Greg had a landscaping business, an old truck, and lines in his face before any of us. He got up early and made a big cup of coffee and filled a convenience store mug with it, then microwaved it went it got cold. He paid us in cash and it wasn’t more than a long day of raking leaves, moving compost, cutting grass and maneuvering around dog shit.
I liked the simple times, patching together work and long spells where you could just sleep in and put it off, life, and there was camaraderie with the others in the waiting room before adulthood, guys like you who couldn’t make it or wouldn’t make it because they weren’t ready to make it and it didn’t matter, making it. We wanted to make something different.
Greg had a Weimaraner but got into an accident with her, and she died. He was drunk and never forgave himself for it, never talked about it.
We drove from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in about three and a half hours which is virtually impossible if you look at the distance and the speed limit and do the math, but we made it, and when we got there I walked through the party straight to the back door, puked off the side of the deck, went back inside and got a cup, got in line for the keg.
That’s the dark side of being young, the charm you wear that feels like it will last forever, like you can do no wrong, in spite of yourself. Youth is a magic cloak that hangs on your back and just drops off one day, a part of your body you didn’t realize you had until it was gone.