When mom wakes and sees Eberhard’s bed lamp is still on she goes downstairs and finds him at the table with a bunch of dead roots, a screwdriver and a bottle of Port that’s half empty or half full, depending on how you see things.
We’ve decided it’s time for an intervention with him and the dead root art, the stumps he’s been collecting on walks to the vineyard with my mom and arranging in vaguely artistic poses, now using a jig saw at his apartment to make bases and mount them in the window sills but they don’t stand up literally or figuratively, they just look like a bunch of sticks and roots tangled up hoping to be something more than they are.
We agree it’s sweet but he shouldn’t have been encouraged, and brainstorm how we’ll broach it with him to stop, how we’ll explain why they’ve disappeared, the fact the cat kept knocking them over or it would be hard for the cleaning lady to work around them, or we just needed to let more light in the windows, which is all true.
Dawn points out that different people express their love differently, you can divide them into categories, and with Eberhard, it’s one of service, made worse with the dead root art because he’s Swabian, notoriously cheap, and for the cost of a screw he can make art.
Mom tells the story of a time he gave her what she assumed to be a present, concealed in a small jewelry box as you might find a pair of earrings but instead it was a tooth, like from his mouth, and mom didn’t know what to say or do, to interpret it as a joke or what, but when she looked up his face didn’t change and he didn’t say anything, so she just gave it back and they never talked about it again.
Now that we’ve been to the Frankfurt airport four times in just a few weeks and taking Dawn to the Bahnhof this morning with her mom, for a two week tour of Italy, everything’s a foreshadowing to our leaving next month, nothing looks the same; I’m starting to take pictures to remember small details, collecting things to remind me of what it’s like here when I’m back there, in the States.
There was a time I imagined being here for several years, a picture of the village taken from the vineyards above, a ticket stub from the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland: I kept these pictures pinned to the fabric of my cube at work so I could see them looking at my computer and dream of a future when we’d come back and spend more time here, as we have since late July. And the pictures at my desk were like some secret that meant nothing to anyone else, like a riddle I thought would reveal some greater truth to me that hasn’t still.
In the morning when the first birds stir the river’s the same color as the sky, it takes the light and reflects it back, takes whatever we put into it out of sight, could carry us on its back if we wanted.
And even the birds sound unsure in their song, like it gets stuck in their throat and they lose the thread, and have to start again. Even if life’s disappointing to see it as more than it is I think it’s better to imagine there’s something more in the sticks and the roots. The future and the past are as real as a distant mirage, they’re both perfect looking ahead or behind.