The plane resembled a bird in the sky, reflecting back in the lake. There were a few on the dock fishing, spread out to give each other space. They were all having their moments with the lake, the morning light. A couple in the middle were pointing across the water with their camera out. Thin wisps of fog moved in one direction to the center away from the shore. I had to go back to the tire place to get it fixed. I’d been there already on Saturday, they said they’d fixed it, but come Sunday they hadn’t: it was leaking again. I got there before they opened and there was already a line. A burly guy with no neck and a crew cut looked agitated, paced by the door. I let him pressure the workers to open early, I didn’t have that kind of presence. They explained it was the corrosion around the wheel that was giving me problems, something I’d never heard of: the tire needs a clean surface to form a seal; the rusting causes unevenness. Somehow, everything was a metaphor to aging. Bad seals, leaks.
I sat in the lobby with my book waiting for them to fix the tire. It was getting warmer with the morning sun but felt nice. They had the TV on but it had no power over me, relaxing even. There were others with me waiting but we were all alone, bound by our tires.
Patti Smith was talking about moving into the Chelsea Hotel, befriending the music anthologist Harry Smith: having her first encounters with late ’60s celebrities, about to become one herself. In her own kind of waiting room.
Sam Shepard just died: and I’d texted Donnie about him over the weekend, asking if he could confer with his wife (a Shepard scholar) if the play Cowboy Mouth, the phrase, had come from Dylan’s song, or vice versa. Donnie acted like he didn’t know the reference. It was from Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. And Patti said in her book it was in the Chelsea Hotel that Dylan wrote that song. There was a banner with Shepard on the homepage of my work computer I glanced at, then moved on. I’d worked on a few of his plays, read many. Didn’t feel sentimental.
They were back to report progress on my tire: a nail, not corrosion. I was glad for that, they could patch it and I could fend off death for another day, get back to work. The guy who worked on it asked if Anton called me yet, offering to buy my Volvo. Anton was the one who worked on it Saturday. He had a Volvo like mine he said, loved those cars. I said I was ready to move on. Falling in love with cars is a bad idea, they take more than they give. But I wanted it to go to a good home, it was from my mom and John, an east coast car: we’d towed it across the country, paid some shady eastern European with a missing thumb two thousand dollars for the tow. There were mice nests in the glove compartment. But we’d toted our kids around West Seattle in it, a freaking tank of a car, indestructible. I was going to donate it for the tax write-off, I told Anton. But if he would buy it and love it, that would be better. Maybe I’d see him again some day and he could help me work on my next car, an old Mercedes.
And I thought about all that driving back by the lake, imagining the Volvo cleaned up and happy, running well, glad it was a Monday, I loved my job, and this week we’d be driving 12 hours to Montana: and I told myself not to be a dick in the car, to be loving and present with my kids, though I’d have to tell myself that again and again.
Photo by Loren Chasse, Waitts Lake, Washington.