It was so warm outside I could write with my shirt off in the shade. The maple tree by the sports court looked like one of the figures on Easter Island with its long face, except for the bat house nailed to the forehead. The bat house had been there since the time our house was built (1992), but never once had a bat by the looks of it. 1992 was the year I graduated from college, the year the Beastie Boys released their third record, and I moved to the beach with my friends Chris and Dave. Chris bought a bag of weed bigger than any I’d ever seen, but in just two weeks we’d gone through it and had to go the rest of the summer without. I had the car my dad gave me, a 1984 Thunderbird coupe, which I used to deliver pizzas at night. A year later I sold it for $500 to a guy who played Spanish guitar at the café where I worked, but the car fell on him when he was working on it and he nearly died.
We’re only the third owners of this house—we bought it from the Youngs and they, from the Munsons. The Munsons cleared a bunch of trees to let the sunlight in, but left many of the tall ones around the edges. They also put in the rockery and chicken coop, and retrofitted the heating system to add AC, but the vents are all in the floor so it doesn’t work so well. We open the windows at night and shut everything down during the day.
After selling the Thunderbird I bought a Toyota Celica from a guy who owned a crystal shop next to my work: $500, cash. It was fast, with a leather steering wheel and a good car stereo. But a year later I abandoned that car in Philadelphia after we moved away because the city towed it, and I didn’t really need it. When they finally tracked me down I was married and had changed my name, owned a house, and they wanted about $500 in fines.
My third car was a 1990 Volvo wagon my mom gave us, which we had towed from Pennsylvania to Seattle. It took about two months to arrive and cost a thousand dollars for the tow, and when I opened the glove compartment mice were living inside and had used the service records as nesting, and destroyed the wiring for the butt warmers.
I drove that car for a good 12 years and when I traded it in, they offered me $200.
It’s Father’s Day, and because I can’t sleep this time of year I was up again at 6 pounding down coffee, irritable, scrubbing out pots other people had cleaned the night before but not adequately enough, upsetting Dawn by playing the jazz music too loud: horns, drums, and discord.
Another blind broke in Charlotte’s room and I decided that’s it, we need to replace them all. They’re from the time the house was built (1992), and 26 years is a long time for the same set of blinds. Besides, better blinds might help keep the light out, this time of year.
To calm myself I made a mimosa with grapefruit juice and cheap, Spanish wine and tried to nap in the hammock, but called my dad first. He said my uncle Jim was moving to a trailer park for seniors (55 and above), and they’d had a nice time at the beach. We talked about the weather and the heat, and I apologized his card hadn’t come yet and he said not to worry, it was just nice to talk.
Dawn and the kids went out for the afternoon and I found myself with nothing to do, walking around the house with my shirt off. I went down to the den to play a record, remembering a colleague who once said all he wanted for Father’s Day was to play his favorite Sonic Youth album, undisturbed by his wife and kids. So I did the same, and when they got home we all went out to dinner and took the long way there, I’d just gotten the car washed and the AC worked, and we had nothing to worry about.
We have a really good life, I said to Dawn.
That year I was driving to the beach, that summer: they were here clearing out trees and putting up new blinds, almost like they were getting it all ready for us. And now, here we were.