On Mondays I’d play Miles Davis driving in to work, “Kind of Blue.” I liked the wordplay and the solemn start to the album that matched the start of the work week, and seemed to be saying you’re fucked, but only kind of — and by the end of the day, everything’s going to be OK. By the time I was heading home and the album was over I was back in the groove with no memory of the morning or whatever relaxation I’d imagined Sunday, now whisked away by the reality of work, like rush hour traffic, something you just have to get over.
And it was an especially bad Monday in November at work that started with me throwing my back out from stress and yanking the dog leash the night before, then stepping in dog crap on the carpet, catching one of our cats puking — and in my first meeting I learned they were putting me on a plan, which is like so many corporate words or phrases that sounds like one thing but means something else, and you have to be on the inside to understand what it really means, where information is shared like power in thin slices and there’s never enough to go around, but what little you’re given still makes you feel better than those with less.
Dawn and I are still waking on European time in the middle of the night in the bed forgetting where we are, imagining I can hear Eberhard at the end of the hallway snoring, or thinking the bedroom door is on the other side of the room. But we’ve gotten out for long walks before sunrise, to the nearby horse farms and meadows where I came the end of the day that Monday in November to try to get my head straight, and couldn’t.
When I take the kids to the park and the playground where we used to come they say the climbing rock looks so much smaller and it does, and they want to start there but they’re disinterested, it’s not the same, and at the playground they toy around with a few things but you can see it doesn’t fit them now, and they ask if we can just take a walk to the upper meadows, and Lily remarks how it feels strange, how everything’s familiar but not the same, the setting suggests nothing’s changed but everything has, and it can’t be undone or forgotten — like stepping out of your body for a time and stepping back in, I say — but the analogy doesn’t hold, and it freaks them out a bit. It feels like waking from a dream that probably means something profound but you’re at risk of losing or forgetting it if you don’t write it down.
When we were in Germany getting ready to come back I pictured our friends and neighbors and how we all felt alike in our busy lives, how things seemed to go by too fast and I wondered how it happened, from school to college to work and home-buying, to kids, thinking we had more control over things. The fact we had to start hiring people to clean our house and take care of our yard, and it wasn’t the look of the grass after it was cut that made me feel good as much as the knowledge I didn’t have to do it, and now we had the girth to hire others to do it instead.
Dawn runs into our old neighbor at the Petco, who lost her house to auction before we left, and asks if we’ve seen how much the grass has grown up there next to our old house, the one we’re still renting to friends — the fact the new owners are trying to subdivide so they can put up two homes.
When I met the new owners, a single mom with a couple infants and her brother, maybe in their late 20s, the guy smiled and said it’s always been their dream to live right next to each other but in two separate houses — and there was nothing I could say to that, other than nice meeting you.
On Sunday, I sat most of the afternoon on Beth’s deck watching the cottonwood blooms fall, writing bad things about how pretty it looked, like snow flakes or feathers falling. And I looked through a coupon mailer from Costco, advertising bundle deals with the purchase of a cell phone and contract, a free 32″ flat screen — five packs of Lysol disinfectant (limit 5), rechargeable toothbrushes (whitening edition), and remembered the set of kayaks we bought on impulse one Saturday, the fact I only took them out once, it was a lifestyle I must have imagined when I bought them.
And the cottonwood blooms drift and gather in bunches in the corners of the deck, it looks unnatural like snow falling when the sun’s out, the village lamp posts left on in the day. The blooms move in flocks like they know where they’re going, they move with such purpose — they could be fairies, a transmigration of souls, how they all look the same: salmon going upstream, worker bees. Maybe this life of abundance is our reward for working as hard as we do, how much of it we need or want we can’t tell the difference, we only know we need more.
Note, if you’re just visiting my blog for the first time, welcome: this is a good place to start, for background on the last year and where we’re going next. — William Pearse