We got back to our vitamins, raw almonds, coconut milk — shopping for the best price on gas, how the clouds cling to the hills on a Sunday morning, the treetops tucked in, gone back to sleep. Even though it’s not mine, I stand in the empty garage at Beth’s to enjoy the calm of a newly reclaimed space, just cleaned. I watch the sun set on the deck which takes a while, since we’re deep into May — and think about my friend visiting with his son, a girl we used to know who’s married now to a seaweed farmer and living on one of the islands, sending late-night texts to him, something about going through a portal together, he never wrote back. Too much spicy food makes for strange dreams: mine, a piece of pork wrapped in plastic but when I take it off, it lifts its head and it’s a baby pig, alive, and I let it go, decide I’ll turn vegetarian, but it’s just a dream.
Two men deep in their 40s air-drumming to Yes songs, making exaggerated faces. Loren’s son cops an action figure pose, low to the ground, arms in the air like a sword fighter or surfer, has that perfect combination of his mom and dad, colors combined from a palette to their likeness. Loren asks about the neighbors, looking over the deck: the woman’s fighting cancer and lives with her 30-something bipolar son. We never see them on their deck or in the windows, can’t tell if anyone’s home, funny how different our lives can be just 20 yards away.
We find out we can get back into our house (our ‘home-home’) a month earlier than planned, have started saving boxes again, breaking down, packing up, a year of goodbyes it seems: calculating how much food we’ll need for the week. Mom calls to say what’s new, how it rained but she took Ginger for a walk anyway; the cleaning lady came, the cat brought a bird into the bathroom, still breathing. I appreciate that between us there’s a goodbye and we know how to say it, there is no fear.
Dawn shows Charlotte how to paint, pulls up a video from the 80s called The Joy of Painting, with Bob Ross — he starts at the top with the sky and lets the color fade from the brush as he gets lower, then adds more paint and switches to the bottom for some water, fading as he returns to the horizon in the middle. And with the soft brush strokes and his whispers it’s like mixing pain killers with alcohol, three out of five of us on the sofa drooling, dozing, and Charlotte wakes me at the end to say Look dad, how it ended…it looks like a real scene with the leaning trees and puffy clouds, and he just imagined it that way.
Every morning around 5 there’s the sound of a car outside and a driver we never see that comes down Beth’s dead-end road and stops, turns, puts a newspaper in her mailbox, rushes off, and in the wake of the sound there’s birdsong to take its place and it goes back to quiet as the paper sits waiting for another hand to come take it, to scan the pages, to put it in a basket when it’s finished and take it out of the house, as they will me one day.