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.