They know it’s time to go

After 89 days without a good rain it was definitive it would come back Sunday. We were gearing up for the first fire of the season, a stew, some red wine, music. We’d move the patio furniture to the garage, take down the hammock…and the milky skies would return, the uncertainty of sun, the forceps that lift us from one comfortable spot to another.

I took the last hike up Cougar Mountain for the summer at daybreak, past the overturned trees by the trailhead, the undersides exposed, the smell of the earth damp with dew.

And it was 21 years ago I moved here with my girlfriend, and 21 years ago we broke up in the car outside the Puyallup fair, then went inside for funnel cake. I wasn’t good about thinking things through or acting on them; my decisions were often rash and confusing, hurtful.

We were staying at a bed and breakfast in Oregon, a former one-room schoolhouse decked out with antiques and rocking chairs, and on the porch in the morning when it was time to go something turned in me, I knew it had to end.

And today I drove into Seattle for a memoir-writing class and had time to kill, walked back to the apartment where Shana and I lived, where we broke up, stood on the street there looking up. Realized I looked strange staring like that and moved on. Forgot the name of the place even (“The Dublin”), the street it was on. You don’t get to keep everything in this life, can’t take it with you. We empty our pockets at the door.

I did that yoga pose on the trail where you cross your arms and lock them to open your back, remembered myself in that studio at work where I was often the only guy in class and enjoyed that, immodest in my wife beater and Vietnamese fisherman pants, of thin material and revealing, seldom laundered. There was a pose the teacher would ask me to demonstrate I was always proud to oblige. I learned nothing about ego but for a teacher named Charley who was English, and worked hard to undo a proper upbringing by smoking, wearing tats, street fighting—brought yoga books in for sale that were hard to find, crude photos in black and white, typos.

Charley taught me the art of failure, made it feel safe. He’d do poses he obviously couldn’t do, flounder, fail, look foolish. And he didn’t say it, but it was about overcoming fear to open ourselves up. He got me away from the wall into the middle of the room to do head stand, unsupported. Fear can feel like a cloud over time, so we forget what it’s like without it.

I dropped down to the quarry off the Shy Bear trail, the crinkle of leaves underfoot, in the air. The sometimes sense in the forest that’s ominous, the feeling you’re being watched. Sounds in the leaves that could be a squirrel or a bear: here, just a beetle. The tragic romance of goodbyes, I thought. The reminder to love fully what we have today and not assume it will be there tomorrow. The fact we make only so much space in our hearts for others and the more we make, the more we receive in return.

Now that I’ve done the trail so many times it’s starting to feel smaller, no matter how far I spool out, it’s not as expansive. And that becomes a metaphor for life, the times you start imagining it closing in, narrowing. Soon the scarcity of our season will be warmth.

I sat in the same part of the yard I always do by the fire pit, like a pool table that’s off-kilter and all the balls gather in one corner.

Soon the quality of light in the morning would come on soft in pale blue and gray, the tint, then stay that way but not really get light until it was time to go back down to dark.

The irony is it’s ourselves: our petty, unique, beautiful selves that’s our greatest asset and obstacle. It limits us, but we forget it’s limitless.

Blog post title from the unapologetically sentimental “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” by Sandy Denny, 1967.





Categories: Memoir, musings

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

16 replies

  1. I like to reminisce while standing in front of old haunts too. Let ’em stare. I like the shape of this one, how it goes back to the beginning at the end, and the middle goes wherever it wants. Good and thoughtful, too. One problem though is that corn head pic showing up below in in my “More in William Pearse” space. I thought we talked about that corn head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, sorry about the corn head but that was really Kevin’s fault, he made me do it (like “It,” same premise). Glad you liked the shape, thanks. Falling out of the habit of daily writing practice it’s taking work to get back in, but that shouldn’t be a surprise (though still is). Happy Sunday and thanks for reading. Bill


  2. Yes, I relate to that moment standing in front of the breakup building. I have one back in St. Louis, and the strange thing I always notice is how the trees in front are bigger and bigger every time I go back. (The bars are gone from the windows too …) Time and memory. Hallucinogens!

    And I take no responsibility for the corn head. You did that on your own volition, but I admire the hell out of you for it. 🌽😎

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not sure I ever had enough boyfriends to have a ‘break up building’ … The last one before the other half did it over the phone – classy, eh? Enjoying your wistful clsing down of things before the autumn kicks in, that acknowledgement of ‘lasts’ fitting with your talk of break ups too. The seasons are dancing round each other here – autumn this morning, still summer right now, though the leaves are telling me otherwise. I enjoy the crossover. Gorgeous writing, Bill, as always


  4. the trail does indeed get smaller as time marches on –


  5. Boy, do I get what you mean about the trail getting smaller. I alternate between feeling passive and lame and panicky that this is it. Limitless, huh. This one had a nice flow to it…esp. liked the description of the yard as an off kilter pool table.


    • I think I feel more on the passive side lately, as you describe…which doesn’t feel good, and why I feel I need to force us to do something extreme, which feels panicky probably, to use your words. But I guess it isn’t lame at least! Glad you liked the pool table thing I thought that was funny and wanted to use it. Bill


      • Septembers aren’t great for me. I’m trying to just sit with the discomfort. Isn’t that a yoga thing too? I’d much rather blow past it but doesn’t seem to be an option.


      • Sorry it’s not a good month for you. Yes, something to sit with the discomfort perhaps. I don’t feel that way about any month specifically. They’re all shades aren’t they? Here, November really sucks but my birthday comes at the end and I love thanksgiving. So there’s that.


  6. Never thought of ‘Who knows where the time goes’ as sentimental. I guess it is a song of passing. But the rising interval of the refrain is so full of hope and yearning and questioning…

    Ah, Sandy.

    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: