This time of year 2012 I kind of snapped. Dawn asked what’s wrong and I started crying, said I needed to write. We went to Germany for Christmas and I had this transcendental sense reopening thing when I heard a train cutting through the tunnel in the middle of the night, and that was it. We went back a year later and in the middle of the night, drunk in my mom’s kitchen, crying again, more deciding we had to leave, we had to move there.
I have the same laptop now I type on, the one for fun that’s wafer-thin, and fast as hell. And the one I use for work that’s a bulky, Terminator thing but evil looking and hurky, I pull it out like a rifle. People are free to use their iPhones at Microsoft now since they abandoned the Windows Phone; I think some are relieved.
And still I drive the same piece of shit Volvo and get some looks but don’t mind. I pull in front of people; I park too close to cars much nicer than mine. The car smells. The speaker on the passenger side has come undone and the tweeter hangs like a gland or a separated lobe or something, it dangles from a wire. There’s dust on the dashboard I keep thinking I should clean but I don’t, a towel in the back to wipe off the dog after we’re done hiking, my trekking poles, a broom stick I use to hold the hatch open because the gas is gone from the hydraulic pistons that hold it up—and yet the car represents something more, which is dangerous. It represents a life my mom and stepdad had that’s no longer theirs, in Pennsylvania, and I feel the need to run it down to the end, to smoke it down to the filter.
I went back to the bar in Issaquah, my mom’s favorite, that gives you a free beer on your birthday and serves it in a special mug they reserve for birthdays, a Mass (one liter) like the ones they have in Germany.
I opened presents with my kids and we took pictures, and watched the rain hit the windows, so hard the bartender went out to watch. There weren’t many other people there and Dawn and I split a burger, and said how thankful we were for how good things are.
I said a prayer at the lake this morning, that rhymed: something like, I’m blessed, this life we have is the best…and thanked whomever I could for giving me the words, for what peace there is in the small things, how it all adds up day by day, like grains of sand in the bottom of a glass.
Charlotte said they’re learning about figurative language in school (she used that phrase), and her example: Christmas…is just around the corner!
And now the swelling of the clouds, the music, an operatic singer the words I can’t understand though it fills the space in my den, it overtakes the sound of my kids upstairs, it’s like the walls just disappeared and outside, the closing moments of some piece by Elgar, the London Symphony Orchestra, composed by Richard Elcox, who’s someone I will never know.