We tried to be more thoughtful about how much we used, starting with the paper towels. I saved a sheet I used to mop up bacon fat with because it was still pretty good, good enough to blow my nose on, but every time I did, I got hungry. We had a handful of sword ferns I had to dig out and thought they might still be alive, enough we could move them to an area we had to take out a Douglas Fir. I watched Dawn dig the holes and cut back the fronds and thought how much I loved her, thought I should offer to help, but I was beat from all the yard work and thought that tending the fire pit was a good enough excuse. We sat for a time with a glass of wine by the fire talking about the future, how lucky we felt to have this yard. We could spend all spring and summer here tinkering, just grill and drink wine every night! To hell with it. I took a couple days off from work and headed back up Cougar Mountain. It was rainy and cold and forecast to hail but they always said that so I went anyway. I realized the playlist Anthony made for me (“19”) had an ominous angle to it now, that name. But it was for all his favorite songs of 2019. And I thought back to when I was 19, and what I could remember of that: The Cure had released Disintegration and a roommate had the CD. I dubbed it onto a blank tape and named it “1989’s Disintegration,” as a relationship of mine had dissolved badly. The year itself had disintegrated. We were still teenagers, off to college in different corners of the state. We’d cheated on each other at different times and discovered the other kind of in the act on impromptu, drop-in visits. Marie drove up from Philadelphia to a hotel in New York where I was staying with some actors for a theater competition and when she asked if they knew me and where I was staying they said yeah, he’s in a room down there with Tina. And though Tina and I weren’t up to much, the optics on it were bad. To where Marie asked “who’s Tina” on the phone and I kind of choked. And then ironically when I moved to Seattle years later I learned Tina had, too. Had opened one of the first Internet cafes even, and my wife-to-be Dawn knew her. And when I looked Tina up on LinkedIn we were 2nd-level connections. And 30 years later I could see the woman she was then a bit still, in her photo. And wondered if she’d remember me, and hoped maybe a little.
It hailed like hell and I texted Lily to look outside. Dawn drove them to a Starbucks so they could get out. I thought about trying to connect with Tina but wasn’t sure what I’d say. We would only be doing it to relive a time that was now long gone. But I can remember that moment in her room, so playful and sweet. With no clue that the one I really loved had come to see me and was just down the hall, about to turn around hurt and angry, and that would be it. All the words from The Cure album would say the things I wanted to say and voice the hurt we both felt at 19. With all the elements and equipment that comes with being an adult, but no directions. We really don’t get much of a chance to rehearse the script in advance, we’re kind of pushed on stage, this life.