Whatever happens between now and December, keep it between us

img_1665This 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 upโ€”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.




Categories: inspiration, musings

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20 replies

  1. You can feel the frustation oozing out of that opening – the need for something more many of us share and that often battles with the realities of money and resposibility. And I like the fact you drive your car into the ground, even though it’s rackety and falling apart – there’s an honour to that somehow. Lovely bit of Elgar surely hits the spot, though I do love Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis that minor key again ๐Ÿ™‚


    • So I’ve just been down the rabbit hole of Ralph Vaughn Williams Lynn! Thank you for that. I pulled him up on Spotify and wrote my latest post to it. So you were with me here in spirit on that, lassie! On my high-end BlueTooth speaker made in Bristol. Cheers to that. Right! Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jesus, Bill! This is gorgeous. All of it. Not a word out of place. There’s lightness to it. It’s sitting up, it’s begging, with a dog grin.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! Ross Murray shared your post on facebook and oh, I’m so glad I clicked through. Beautiful writing, and happy year to you. Looking forward to reading through more of your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Hot sauce!” That’s super, Liz. Thanks for reading and saying hi! Ross is my guru, a good chap he is. Thankful for your kind wishes and looking forward to getting to know you. Have a great day! Bill


    • Love your totally cool ABOUT page and the fact you’re from Amish country, as I know those green patches myself. Here’s to awkward, to never enough TMI, to the color green. Though I really like animals, myself. Thanks again for visiting Liz! Bill


  4. Seconding Ross here. Some gem you made for us!

    I’ve noticed the last few years that birthdays have become more of a Thanksgiving thing for me than “hey, it’s MY day!” Maybe it’s, “Shit, I’m past the halfway mark … by a lot! Take stock, kiddo.”


    • Yes to the Thanksgiving = birthday. That’s what it should be, I think. That’s what it becomes as you get older. Why wait to get older to think/feel that way, right? Bill


  5. Lovely, sad, hopeful, kind of funny – wow, this beautifully written piece has it all. Happy Birthday!


  6. Happy belated birthday, Bill! Sounds like a lovely one. I love the birthday prayer, will keep it in mind for my own right around the corner, like Christmas. A love of words and writing is in our bloods and gets passed down, for sure. Oh, and it’s always been my dream to have an old Volvo. I know, dream big, right? I can live vicariously through your mentions here…smoke it down to the filter, definitely.


    • Well happy almost birthday to you, then! And thanks for the well wishes, it was really super. About the Volvo, we have a red 740 wagon/turbo. I like to gun it. Though it isn’t what it used to be. Wish I could put more money into it for the aesthetic stuff, but it’s just been ‘keep the lights on’ so to speak. I have new tires though, and we might get snow next week, so that’s good. It’s heavy as hell, the frame, so they’re hard on breaks. But I can get a lot of stuff in it, and I like the smell of old leather and the sunroof, though it doesn’t work quite right. Was good for raising our kids, always felt safe in it. Will be a sad day when I say goodbye to that. Smoke it down to the filter.


      • Last time I mentioned wanting a Volvo (never dropped the dream, just stopped talking about it), it was a red wagon. No shit. I will never accept a car without a sunroof or heated seats. Safe tires are nice too.


      • We had it towed from PA Dutch country off Rt 100 (New Tripoli) where it sat a year or so. When it arrived, there was a mouse nest inside the glove compartment, shredded bits of old receipts and possibly the registration paperwork, I don’t know, it was meticulously shredded.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I want that Volvo so my family can slide around on the back seat with the wet dog and fight over who’s turn it is to stick the pole in the boot to get the balls out of the back. I love how you take us right into your moments. Thanks again for lifting me up out of my laptop.

    Liked by 1 person

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