How we managed to stay friends with the friends who rented our house


Abandoned baby doll in nearby climbing wall, Pine Lake, Sammamish

There was probably not much more bad that could happen to it, the Modest Mouse shirt, so I put it in the dryer with the rest and closed the lid. And I checked on the girls because the door was closed and they agreed I could come in, and Lily was taking screen shots of her laptop with her new flip phone, her face a light blue, aglow with amazement, transfixed. And I shut the door, thought I should blog about that, and went downstairs.

The cat got another mouse, wrestled it in the laundry room and held it fixed while I finished another load, went back and forth between her canned food and the mouse, traded off between the two: folded her ears back flat and started literally gagging it down length by length, down and then up, back and forth like a car wash. I turned the light off and closed the door and left them both in the dark hoping it would be gone when I came back but it wasn’t.

Gray Sunday morning rain, a fine mist, what they call a feminine rain on account of its soft, restorative feel. I guess a masculine rain comes on harder, doesn’t last as long.

We toasted to the fact we’re still friends with our friends who rented our house out, around the dinner table at their new house, and Chris explained how he got the hot tub so clean (he’s an engineer and understands how things work, which usually just frightens me to do nothing, or call someone) and now I can sit in it and see my body through the water, which spills out some around the waist with certain shorts, buckles out the way the wood cladding does around the tub, that’s old and weathered and prone to mice and spiders, where it’s warm and wet underneath.

They left things so much the way they were when we left, there’s pieces of driftwood from past camping trips still arranged in the same spots in the pots and beds around the yard: one shaped like a scepter I found for Charlotte, a kind of wand to cast spells — another, half-man, half-horse, some curse from the gods or a blessing, a mutation: all these trapped souls left intact. The fact I still have a hard time with that phrase intact, from an email almost 20 years ago to a colleague a couple levels up, where I separated the words to ‘in tact’ and all she wrote back was intact, period. How that said more about her than it did me.

I can still go outside in the day to the hot tub and not worry about wearing a suit since the neighbors in the back can’t really see us and if they did, that would be their problem not mine — and next door, the house was sold at auction more than a year ago to a family planning to tear it down and build two in its place; we’d talked to my mom about her buying it and thought about trying to do so ourselves, but it felt like bad Karma since we were friends with the people who owned and lost it, and obviously since we think about Karma neither of us have any real business sense, and that’s probably its own Karma, something good or bad we deserve.

We hoped the trip to Europe would reset our values, what we spend money on or what we do for money to earn a living, and how we manage to do that in this affluent part of the world. I calculated how much we spend monthly and thought surely there must be some mistake, some obvious way we could get it down, but clipping coupons and being anal about food waste only gets you so far.

We were too tired to fix dinner and hadn’t been out as a family in the two months since we got back, so we went to the nearby ale house, split a plate of nachos, got beers and Shirley Temples, and I said to the girls, to Dawn, it really feels like we’re back now. But they were glazed over and tired, watching ESPN on the flat screens and I think only Dawn heard me; she just smiled and nodded yes, it does.


Categories: musings

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. That photo was much funnier when I thought it was an actual child just being lazy beneath all that potential exercise. That would totally be me.


  2. That’s funny about the karma business. (Rather, karma = not business.) I’ll often say to my wife, “We’re not normal people,” because we often don’t do things that are in our best interest. It’s a secretly smug statement.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m digging the rain genderism although sometimes I could swear a loud downpour feels like Beyonce’s on the roof. And I’m digging that photo even more!

    Liked by 1 person

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