The bargaining phase

It was the last of the 8 o’clock sunsets the meteorologist said, so enjoy it. The last until April 16. We went to Chris and Kelly’s for dinner, to spend the night, but couldn’t stay up as late as we used to. Ginger whimpered in the night to be let out and in the morning, on the back porch, Kelly said the sun doesn’t cover as much of it as it used to, it was definitely coming on fall.

I walked around our back yard barefoot with the hose, moved in my lawn chair inside the shade, the arc of the sun. I went inside my friend Kevin’s book for a time, how he laced his life into the fictitious world he created, how that world became a reflection of his and both were real, though made up.

An owl hooted, a dog barked, and Lily announced she was gay. I’d heard it before, but under the guise of “bi,” and didn’t take it seriously (she’s 12). But as the light dropped from the sky and the four of us sat around the dinner table, it was a real coming out moment. I saw myself reacting, heard myself talking, and it wasn’t the self I imagined for the talk; I thought I’d be more open-minded.

Charlotte stood off to the side with some lasso thing you tie around your ankle with a glowing plastic orb on the end that lights up when you spin around it, and hop.

In the 20-year cycle of restlessness that comes in five year increments, I asked the family what they thought about moving to Dublin. It was these moments of perfection that made me suspicious, sitting in our back yard. The sense that things are so good they have to turn at any minute. Better to get a jump on it, before it dips.

There’s a scene in the film Rosemary’s Baby with Mia Farrow awakening in the middle of the night, opening the fridge for a piece of uncooked meat and wolfing it down: that’s the way I lived, or felt I did, gulping down experience to feed some inner, demonic urge.

We could look for job opportunities, rent our house out, relocate to Dublin: a few hours from anywhere.

The kids pushed back, but within a couple hours both had changed their mind, and were putting forth conditions.

It’s all just an idea I said, so don’t tell anyone.

We went to our separate corners: Lily and Charlotte, to their rooms and music, their devices and worlds — Dawn to her office, to work — and me, the upper edges of the back yard beneath the big trees with the best view of the dusk and coming stars, with bats figure skating across the sky, writing messages in curlicues, figure eights, broken characters.

I thought back to leaving the beach at Oil City, looking over my shoulder to where the Hoh meets the Pacific, the choke point where the birds converge to fish, how the gulls flap around happily with no sense of time (their sense is by the tides, the seasons, the sun): how I’d heard animals are like that, they only live in the present. And for that, how they must feel no hope for the future, or nostalgia for the past. How that must make their pain feel greater, the same as their joy.


Categories: identity, parenting, travel, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. Hey, thanks for mentioning the book, Bill! It’s funny how fiction lets you work bits of your own reality into it, which in turn alters the reality of what happened, in an odd way. I guess it’s a vehicle for rethinking a lot of stuff. Plus, you’re in control this time through!

    You’re starting to sound like the father in The Mosquito Coast. Ever read that book? Dublin’s not as risky as the jungles of Central America, I guess … 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure to mention it, it was a nice part of my day, kind of informed it. Rare I can go deep for a few hours in a book so that was nice, and more so as I know its creator. I know of that Mosquito Coast film but haven’t seen it or read it, you think I should? Sounds though I ought to by your note here. Sigh, so much life there is to do. We’re lucky for that. Side 2 of Murmur album by R.E.M., original pressing. Nary a pop or hiss even, well worn in vinyl, the best, like blue jeans?


  2. I admire how you guys consider relocating to Dublin, just like that. Beautiful descriptions and mood in this one, fits the waning light of the season.


    • Thanks Kristen, it’s a bit nutty but I’m happy my family is of that mind. We’ll see! It’s on me to figure something out, since it was my idea. Now I have Lily pestering me periodically as to when will we go, and what will it take, and so on.


  3. The openind line is borrowed from the previous post. Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!

    I didn’t know what gay or bi was when I was 12. I was still watching Saturday morning cartoons. Times change. The clocks run faster. Of all the neutral corners you each retired to, I like yours the best. Seems the most sensible to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, there’s a crossroads of change with identity and default settings I thought I’d be more open to but was surprised to find I’m not! So it’s a good thing for me to witness and experience. You’re right, about the clocks running faster (and I did carry over a line, good eye!). Thanks for being a loyal reader and not a robot! It is that Dylan line, about something happening but you don’t know what it is…do you…{ }?


  4. a lot of sharing and disclosure going on – a sense a change in the wind


  5. I may have mentioned a teenager I know who began transitioning to male at a very young age. Like, how do you even know who you are let alone what sex you want to be? It’s boggling that that’s even an option! He’s 16 now, and I had the pleasure of acting with him as one of the “guys” in Guys and Dolls. Hanging out with him turned me around a bit on this, making me realize it doesn’t matter at all what I think. He’s doing his thing and getting on with normal troubles like his parents’ divorce and his dad’s girlfriend and his own girlfriend. Sexual preference is an even easier thing to transition back and forth with, and soon we may no longer even be referring to a preference at all. It’s a little trendy right now to be queer (especially for girls, because it’s still dangerous for boys). But sometimes good changes come out of trends.
    So, right now it’s pretty harmless. I liked girls at 12 but didn’t get laid for eight years…


    • I think it’s that trendiness that makes me cynical but my, how quickly one can feel old in schemes like this. I had no idea. I think what interests me most is the identity thing. It’s a puzzler. Enjoy your night and the work week my friend. To fall, we go!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I seem to have missed this when it went up a few days ago. This has the pensive mood you do so well mixed with the poetry of the suburbs which you also do well and the wanderlust too, which can’t really be “done” so much until it gets going. Why Dublin, is my first question, just out of curiosity. I admire how you might be willing to pull up stakes on a high note as opposed to waiting too long and deciding something’s got to change. I listened to a great guided mediation on how there never is, was, or will be anything but “now” and “here.” Even planning for the future or remembering the past happens “now” and “here.” I wasn’t meditating, I was driving, but it hit the spot. I’m getting all new agey in my old age. Great last two lines, btw (yours, not mine).


    • I’m happy that meditation thing, that tape or whatever, is working for you. It’s good. And sorry for taking time to reply to your great comment. Had some wonderful, much needed time “off” from internet and so on, with family back at the beach at Oil City. Why Dublin? Not a lot of thought or science to it. Just that Lily wants to go to college there at Trinity, and we all envied her for doing that, so thought maybe we could live there as a family first, see if she really likes it, and of course it has a part of Europe feel to it still (but English speaking), and I love the literary tradition, really dig on Joyce, and Microsoft has a good presence there, so it’s possible I could get some work. We’ll see. I love the Irish too, from our two visits there. Want our kids to have that kind of experience still, before they get enmeshed in this lifestyle here, which I’m not sold on. Looking forward to reading the piece I see you posted today. Strange, blood-red sunset from the wild fires. You sound well and I wish that for you and your people! Bill


      • Yes, the lifestyle here is not something I’m sold on either, or how we use “sell” as a verb which applies to so many other things. Speaks to our focus, that. As for Dublin, I had a feeling Joyce and others had something to say about it. Didn’t know MS was there but that could work out very well for you. Hope it does.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers. “Rave on John Donne,” in the words of Van Morrison. Thank you, get some rest. Bill


  7. Reconciling the ‘here and now’ with constant change (and the avoidance thereof) is something I’ve never quite managed. But tonight I enjoyed this piece, and also the comments. Mr Walker’s “poetry of the suburbs” is very nice indeed.


    • I’m happy you enjoyed it Bruce, thanks. Looking forward to reading yours. Had some nice down-time on our holiday weekend here in the States, kind of just being. My musical loops often remind me of you and yours, so glad we are connected. Cheers, good evening, good morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonder what Connecticut Ave and Vermont Ave are on the Irish Monopoly board?


    • I know. The nice thing is, I don’t think the Monopoly notion applies, the consumerism. Hope not. It does of course, just not the same. What do I know though, really? When the shops are closed we all resign ourselves to the gas station wine.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: