The leather couch in the family room I thought would break in but never did, that reminds me of times we paused while climbing a mountain and the care required to anchor yourself on a glacier for fear of slipping off or disappearing. The rain in July that’s unusual and blessed, that plip-plops off the maple leaves and tip-taps the sports court and brings up the scent of mulch and pines, the sound of nature’s drinking, its well-sated contentment. What they call sunbreaks, that forever positive Northwest way of looking at things, that like the eskimo’s 50 words for snow finds as many syllables for rain, as if to imply some variety that only exists in the mind, in cheery forecasts that scrounge up any shred of hope they can, or run out of gas from the sheer desperation of it all and just land with a bad diagnosis you’ve got four to six months to live, best case.
The lifeguard’s bored slouch on the chair scanning the lanes left to right, right to left: arms and heads bobbing indistinct, lapping patterns made by bodies in all shapes and sizes back and forth. I leave my kids alone in the other section since they swim well enough now and need time away from me I think, need to have the sense they’re unsupervised even when they aren’t, need to be given the chance to be independent and feel what it’s like. And still I watch them through the glass in the waiting room out of curiosity or boredom wanting to remain a part of them, toggling back and forth between my book.
We amble to the public library, its queer timelessness, caught in the eddy of a volunteer staff pace where shifts must be a kind of purgatory in the humdrum of handheld scanning guns and Epson printers, the range of stimulus about as wide as the temperature in the winter here with the high 52 and the low 48.
And we’re starting to get concerned now about Charlotte’s parallax view phenomenon that’s become a fixation: she shuts down and gets defensive about it, confesses it’s a habit she started when she learned the tip of her nose looks different with one eye closed, and toggles between the two views flaring her nostrils and tilting her head each time back and forth, left and right, closing one eye and then the other — and the action’s gotten quicker, engrained and automatic, and she talks to herself, and we wonder if it’s a sign of brilliance or sickness, and how the two take turns riding shot gun with each other.
Dawn leaves on a 5:40 morning flight to Toronto and the kids spend the night at Beth’s, and though we’re alone in the house without them it still feels like they’re with us, that sense people have after they’ve lost a limb, they still feel it.
The clouds move that way too, like they’re separate from time, how they creep. And when I drive the kids across the plateau for lunch there’s the development where they tore out all the trees that looks like the end of the Lorax film: now that it’s all removed it reminds me of those diagrams in biology books in high school that show what the human body looks like without the skin, the soil’s the same garish pink and you can see its contours and curves underneath, the construction vehicles the size of children’s toys gently combing the sides, tamping it down, whispering there, there. Why, when Dawn goes out of town I feel the need to stay up late in the garage drinking beer and listening to loud music and when I’m gone she does the same with romantic comedies, just things we can’t do when the other’s around. I sleep diagonally and paw at the space where she was and realize vaguely she’s not there, she’s gone.