Happiness is easy

Two weeks ago, we went to brunch at the local ale house and I tried to nap before going to the airport. In a moment of clarity, Lily deleted all the data on her phone and gave it to Charlotte, her sister. In the two weeks that passed, Charlotte broke that phone and dropped another one in the toilet. I’d never heard her cry like that, a bottom-of-your-soul cry. In a moment of retail therapy, Dawn, Lily and Charlotte bought two new XR’s for the price of one at the AT&T kiosk. Dawn explained how the promo works (you pay for the phone and they discount the cost back over 30 months), but it was too complicated and I didn’t care. Charlotte was pressuring me to get one too, so she could claim the free one. Then, all four of us would have the new XR’s and could whip them out in public.

Sometimes Dawn and I fantasized about packing up and moving away. Selling the house, traveling, a simpler life. But we were in our peak earning period and weren’t sure how much we needed, for how long, if we could still get work. It would remain a fantasy until we got the kids through school and out of the house.

Lily was feeling down so Dawn and I both slept in her room, and next door Charlotte had a friend over (Anna), of eastern European origin and small stature, who also has an XR. Because the XR is larger than most smartphones, it makes Anna look even smaller. They were still awake at 4 in the morning giggling each time I went to the door to tell them lights out, and I realized I should have taken their phones away but I wasn’t thinking right.

We all had strange dreams and replayed them in the morning, Lily, Dawn and me. Lily thought she’d passed through hell but realized even though it looked like heaven, it was still hell. There was a voice in black gauze following her, she said. We made plans for the day and I walked to the lake, then lay on my back looking at the sun coming through the trees, making strands of spider webs reflect in the air, the ‘silver lining.’ And I went back to my comfort and self-soothing music, a record called The Colour of Spring.

“Happiness is Easy,” and “Life’s What You Make It.” 

Though I looked older I still felt the same on the inside. My face had gotten rounder, flatter, more lines. Before, my face had sharp edges to it but now it looked like a raw egg splayed out in a pan. I had to regard it those rare times on FaceTime. FaceTime was like a confession I never made, having to look at myself in a small box. I looked like my dad and he’d always looked older to me, probably because he was my dad. I’m sure I aged him too, weighing him down like branches on a tree, making it stronger in places but closer to breaking too. Maybe that’s love (a form of dependency), swinging on each other’s arms, getting taller each year, the roots holding everything in place for when the wind blows and the heavy snows weigh us down.

In the dream my beard had gone solid white with no color left, and reminded me of that scene with Gandalf and the Balrog in the pit where Gandalf disappears for a time, for the battle of his life against that evil wizard, and returns whitened and elevated, reborn. I had to think that was possible for us still too.

Categories: writing

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19 replies

  1. This is good Bill. I love the tree analogy and the hopeful ending. Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Read “Whaling Out West” by Charles D’Ambrosio. post reminds me, or is it the Gandalf or Seattle? might be soul brothers–

    “Alone, you’re vastly outnumbered; but in the company of another, by some weird miracle of human math, the odds seem wonderfully improves in your favor.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Bill, I like the tree analogy too, that works. Around here, the trees that survive the winter storms are like the Black Knight in Monty Python, they lose a limb or two, and just
    ” ‘Tis but a scratch” Gandalf was like that too, he showed up as The Man In The White Suit, but a pretty badass wizard, like a pissed-off Clint Eastwood back in town.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We had our first meltdown today from our nine-year-old because she can’t text with her friends. I must confess, I didn’t know this was a big deal for her, or that she had friends who were texting. Thought we still had some time on that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t cave in. It’s kind of irreversible.


    • Not a big deal! Are you kidding! That’s their world. It’s the ONLY deal. It’s a tough road. You don’t want them sucked in so youn (9!) but you don’t want them aced out of the conversation, either. What to do?

      We took advantage of the XR buy-one-get-one as well. I felt weirdly satisfied that I could provide these new phones for my girls. It loops back to my childhood when we didn’t have jack-shit. It always loops back to childhood.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi You! You are such a dreamer and good writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. love your open ending. I’ve heard more than one president describe themselves as prematurely aged after surviving the office and all that goes with it. now you know the presidency is an option for you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeah the trees were poetic. But the image of the matching phones, two-for-one, that’s what stayed with me. Somehow funny, disturbing, modern and heartbreaking all at once.
    That last sentence is your writing to me, Bill. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, and I enjoyed the Colours reference too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hang on to that “packing up and moving away” thought. We did it. It’s good. 🤠


  10. Perhaps I should grow a beard to see if, like Gandalf, I’ve gone through adversity wizened and whitened. The mustache suggests that may be the case, but perhaps it just the silver of icicles on the tree rather than the white of snow.

    I guess as long as you don’t phone it in…

    Liked by 1 person

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