There are many clocks in my mom’s 500-year-old house but none of them agree on the time, they’re all about 10 minutes off and it’s unclear which one is right — so instead we go by the town church bell, and now I know the logic behind its toll every 15 minutes since the beginning of time, since before people had watches or alarm clocks and needed the church to get them up every day.
On our morning walks, Dawn and I have started building our kids’ homeschool plans, how we’ll spend our days, how we’ll farm out math to the experts by way of an online curriculum, inventive ways we can build in sight-seeing and history, like stopping at Anne Frank’s house as we pass through Amsterdam at the end of October — a lesson in the power of journaling, possibly other lessons, too.
Dawn refers to the first chapter in the novel Dune, the thought one needs to learn how to learn first, our hope to inspire curiosity and inquisitiveness in them above all else (and make sure they feel ahead when they return to school, next year).
And we agreed Mondays we’ll have breakfast at the Metzgerei where they serve an award-winning Weißwurst, a Bavarian sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon accompanied by a morning beer, pretzel, and a cup of sweet mustard. It will be our Monday, we’re unemployed, screw-you tradition, a good excuse to get out of the house when the cleaning lady comes.
The cat hasn’t come back, and it’s time to take down her picture from the photocopies throughout the town. Had the dark thought she might have gotten trapped in the wine keller but there’s only spiders down there, a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark with a torch — the walls are alive, Indy.
Mom met a guy in town who said he’s a Türk too, lived in the same house as my mom’s sometime before the alcoholic dentist, the street named after the Türk clan and the tax collector, this house the oldest original one in the village that hasn’t been converted to apartments, two years younger than America — next door to the one alleged to have roots with Obama’s ancestors, spurring postcards with his face grafted over half-timbered homes.
But the Türk eluded to bad things that happened in the attic, something about the steps, and so my mom went up there by herself after John died and sat alone in the attic, acknowledging to whatever might be there that we live here too and let’s just get along, can we? Live and let live.
Turned on the AC unit in the bedroom that was John and my mom’s, where Dawn and I now sleep, hasn’t been used since before John died, possibly 2007, but when I pressed the On button the fins opened and it fired right up.
On our walks with Ginger we see the same old man down by the river every day, just smiling and staring through sunglasses at the water, the ducks: when he clasps his hands on my mom’s and says we should be zusamen (together) he moves with a sudden jerk like a spider — or maybe just some lonely, old man.
Our kids have really discovered themselves in the mirror now, in the dining area, the old part of the house where they used to keep the animals off to the side. Lily and Charlotte examine themselves in the mirror, Spiegel im Spiegel, in that busy intersection of self-awareness, vanity and self-respect where it’s hard to keep track which is which, easy to get lost.
This post dedicated to my New Yorker friend at Exile on Pain Street, named after the epic Stones album, and his recent post about technology and selfism. Check him out, always a great read.