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I am downstairs in a bathroom looking into a candle that is nearly burnt down. It is perhaps not odd at all that looking into a candle reminds me of her, and the wick in this candle is nearly gone, the stub anchored to the bottom of the jar in a clear lacquer of glass. There will be a small drop of adhesive under it and in my mind I pull this little piece of metal out, open it and replace the wick. I replace the wax. I re-make the candle and set it back down in the bathroom burning.
I am looking out the windows into the rain and haze with the bicycle parked in the garage, a spider already beginning to build a web across a handlebar. I am inside looking out the window because inside is where I want to be. I am an inside person. I'm an innie in the purest sense. So how does it make sense that I take this bicycle out onto the paths and trails and roads riding ten, fifteen, and twenty miles at a time? Where do I go when my body does this? Where do I hide in my head?
I can feel me peeking out sometimes looking at things thinking "Oh, I should notice that. I should be seeing the way the lake is rippling in the wind. I should be feeling the deep blue of the sky and the sculpt of the trees over that hill. I should do something with the grin on the face of that woman with her crazy stand-up bicycle." And then I forget. I go hide. I am back here typing and the music is assaulting me. I have a poor selection. Still, it is interesting. It is almost industrial. It is--interesting.
I am not on the bike today. It is raining and I returned from voting a little while ago. A woman comes to my door selling a miscellany of home improvement services. She starts by confusing me, by asking me something about whether I still have the original tile in my bathroom. I explain to her that I have three bathrooms, and I am not sure, but one of them... and she is off onto a sales pitch about a company owned by a TV newscaster. "What does he know about replacing tile?" I ask, but she is off again.
I hear you ringing out over the things in this life, resonating in the coffee, in the chrome, in the dark spaces between particle board shelves. I feel the push against the walls pressing them apart as they flow out from the building in slow motion, splinters yellow, and red from the heart of construction, the concrete footings exploding in clouds of dust as it all rises in a slow dance. Closing my eyes I condense it all, restoring the solidity of things, back into the pure note still ringing and now flowing out over the curve of the earth.
Here I am filled with a sense that I know exactly where I am going, I believe that I know how long it will take, where it will end, and what path it will take. I can feel the weight of something alive in my hand. I can feel the dry wings scraping against the skin in the heavy palm of my hand. Can already feel the weight of writing time I will have to bargain for. It will be expensive, I think. But, I am drawn here, sucked in, crave the touch of the idea hidden in these lines.
Looking through the window of my study again, deep as I can into the hard heart of a that Black Locust, I can see it swaying in the touch of the wind, can hear the leaves fluttering now. The Locust watches back, peering into the window, over my shoulder at the computer screen. She lifts her head, mouth turned up into the sky, rain streaming down her cheeks. The children circle the driveway in the rain, bicycles curving in intricate dance and wheel against the colors of their laughter lifting, wetting the clouds, and breaking tiny holes in the sky.
This is the part of the letter that gets written in the upstairs hallway. It is dark here by nature. Some say that hallways in homes are indicative of bad design because they are only wasted space. Yet here the hallway is where we meet in the mornings and in the evenings after work and after school. The hallway is alive. It is upstairs, where the dreaming feet pad naked and dry in the night, where spiders crawl the hidden piney studs to heaven, entering the dark holes stitched in webs of fear, transcending armor, sprays and coats of paint.
I am no longer in the study. Today, I have moved out into the upstairs hallway. This is the part of the letter that gets written here, in the hallway. The floor here is hard on my butt, even though the floor is carpeted and padded. .Next time, I need to buy either better carpeting or better padding. I am ignoring the question about a better butt. I am also ignoring the begged question about whether anyone really understands the phrase "begs the question" anymore. We tend to read on past phrases in French or those that make no sense.
The hallway carpeting/butt situation has been just fine and has gone unnoticed until now, so maybe it will be ok so long as I do not need to sit on it and write too often. Obviously I have better places to be writing. It is just that I sometimes find the change in perspective useful. I am also wondering if I need to continue to specify this as the "upstairs hallway." I am trying to remember if there are any other significant hallways in this house, and there arenít. So, from now on, I will just call this the hallway.
This, then, is the part of the letter that gets written in the hallway. This is where the drywall grips in arms-outstretched-palms-construction-glued terror to aging pine two-by-four studs standing dusty and dry in the dark for thirty years, weeping amber. It runs forever it seems, like the hallway in Poltergeist, that the longer and harder you ran, the longer it got. Right away, I had a problem when I started here: where to sit. What part of the hallway to occupy while I wrote this part of the letter? By now you have to realize that location is almost everything.
So now, I am in the hallway, sitting on the carpet, my legs sticking into the study door, the opening chopping my legs off, with my daughter Amandaís room to my immediate right. The floor here is somewhat littered by milk bottle cap rings--those little plastic things you have to tear off to get the milk open. The cat loves to play with them and has scattered caches of them all over the house. I am not sure how she gets them in the first place. Someone gives them to her? She digs them out of the garbage herself?
I don't always want to go for the bike ride. I talk about the endorphin addiction and how happy it makes me feel, but before I start my knees hurt just because I'm thinking about riding and I don't feel like doing anything at all really. I am likely to get up and swing around the room in a tight little circle and sit down again having forgotten that I "wanted" to take the bicycle out. But my mother assures me that to keep moving is to stay alive. I believe her. She is 90 and is very much alive.
It's 4:40 in the afternoon and to think I was worried about a schedule for today. Apparently I have already made my decision. I went to Home Depot and bought a heat tape for the outside faucet. At home, reading the directions, I realized it would not work for my purpose. I also shopped around for a pond heater, but all the stores selling pond supplies are closed, possibly for the season, so I came home and ordered one off the internet. Then I threw my old one into the pond and it worked just fine and I thought, WTF?
Actually I do know what to do. I am clearly rattled and bouncing from project a to project b to project c while tripping over pieces of a left in the floor and breaking eggs dedicated to b. I was considering running to Radio Shack to complete project a, but I am already realizing that in my current state of manic frenzy I am liable to botch the otherwise rather simple job. Clearly a run to Radio Shack is not in order. What is in order is an Ativan and a 20 minute time out. This is my time out.
I was thinking on my way home tonight. Perhaps I was thinking my way home. It is a long way home and on the x-way I get time to think, to merge with nature. On good nights I get to merge with myself. Merging with something other than the traffic in the left lane has got me thinking the freeway systems are an enormous latticework spread over the landscape: our antennae to suck data from the roots of the earth. It makes you feel planted in the earth, driving over the asphalt, like an overgrown willow tree, juice and legends.
The freeway is a heavy-bodied river. There is the constant movement, the pushing and flow, the rushing sound. It is a space where there is so much life and sounds passing through that you can only open the gates and let it pass. Much of what a space looks like is how you feel about it. "Madonna slept here," an ad in a local newspaper promises for a room for let. I am thinking about the subterranean need someone might have to sleep in a bed that Madonna slept in, to roll imagination in the same sweat and grease-soaked sheets.
It compares to the faith an 8-year-old's daddy might have that he is writing something that is even worth spending his time on, and daddy, of course, sitting in the hall typing constitutes a room that causes everyone to adjust their wonderment level these days. They adjust as they step over him. They adjust as they go about their day considering the memory of stepping over him. It is becoming a seed of something in the family perhaps, but it has already caused comparison to Richard Dreyfeus' building a mud mountain in his living room in the movie Close Encounters.
Michael Jr. goes buzzing by and slips into his room, kneeling down now on the floor with his backpack. "Oh, Dude, cool!" he says about something almost at random. He is still deep into the first day of school he just had today. Still excited about looking forward to day two. On some day in some future year he will turn dark and his eyes will wander to the nearest window when anyone mentions "school." It will become a scary room for him that he will avoid at all cost. Every child is different. Every child is a different space.
I saw a single flake of snow fall in the space between the houses. It was moving slowly and then there was no more. The ground was wet so I knew what waited to receive it. The trees arched out bare-limbed above it. And the leaves huddled in small bunches up against the sides of homes. And smoke drifted from the woods. There was the sound of a garden tractor circling the yard across the street. And I waited for the next flake and the next all through that hard grey afternoon, but none came. And the sky was silent.
I was waiting for my son to come in from overseas this afternoon. I still am I guess. My notion of when it would happen, of how it would happen has become outdated. There is some chance that I will have to start working now before he arrives, or soon after. I know they will be tired and will want to sleep because there is a five-hour time difference between us and they have flown all the way from the UK. My son, his wife, and the baby. They may be cranky. I will need to adjust for this possibility.
I worry too much. I am sure there are many people who worry too much though. There are likely as many people who worry too much as there are people who do not worry enough and who would you rather be, a person who worries too much or a person who does not worry enough? There is this bell curve arching over the land, with the tails running off into the distance in either direction, pulled by very fast cars. In the middle, high overhead, is the area of the curve that defines people who pretty much worry just enough.
A schoolbus slips by. It seems to me they have changed a lot since I was a child riding the bus. No doubt they will change even more in the near future. You will touch a spot on your smart phone and a driverless smart car will slide noiselessly up to your house. It will be electric of course. You will put your child into the smart car and wave goodbye without a second thought.
Google is making these driverless smart cars. Some day we will not own our own car because there will be a public fleet of little electric cars, already charged and hot to go. You will smart phone one up--take me to the grocery--and it will know where you are and where your store is. It will automatically charge your account for the service. You will even have a choice. If you want you can select an I-Car or an MS-Car. People are avoiding the "mess-cars" because of the awkward process for getting in and out. You can imagine.
My younger son comes home and greets me on his way up the stairs. "Where is the other one?" I ask. "Oh she is driving her own car home from work. And then we have to go get her father." Their lives seem to have gotten more complicated since she got her own car. You would think it would be simpler with one car, but it did require a lot of redundant travelling, taking her to work, coming home, changing clothes and then going to his own job. Reverse the process. It just seems more complicated and less efficient now.
It is a little late in the day, but I am drinking coffee anyway. I was getting sleepy, but did not really have time for a nap. The coffee is, as Mr. Coffee guarantees, the perfect temperature. Actually, it could be a little warmer. I could have left it in the carafe a little longer. And some mornings it is too hot I think. I'm remembering that giant bell curve I left hanging in the sky from my entry several days ago. The tails are marked at the one sigma points. The top of the curve ripples in the wind.
I'm looking way far across the street to a house there that has something white hanging off the wall. It could be a furnace vent or something like that, I don't know. What I do know is that all our houses are festooned with such appendages. Downspouts, cable TV lines, water hose bibs and the like adorn all our homes and we do not notice them. There was a time when television antennae sprouted from every house, but those seem to have disappeared quietly and efficiently within the past decade. Nobody said anything about it; they just melted sheepishly away.
I had been seeing them for as long as I could remember. They looked for all the world like a rip in my cornea. Sometimes flashing, sometimes brightly colored, they were a little scary but not so much that I did anything about them. Then I had a notion the other day and typed the description into Google and hit the Enter Key. Up popped a picture of what I had been seeing. They were Migraine auras. Yes, I could get them without actually getting the migraines. They had pictures of all my variations and some I had never seen.
Bluetooth, I am disappointed. You had so much promise. I thought I'd be able to play music through my stereo off my laptop without any wires. I had visions of Bluetooth headphones and being able to use my Android devices. But you were not as promised. You had dropouts, and uncanny distortion. Your headphones had to be recharged daily. And the android versions of my music providers where not full-featured. Bluetooth, I am still tripping over a fifty-foot interconnect cable of broken Bluetooth promise. I try again with every new version of you that is released. But Bluetooth, you suck.
It is that time of the evening when I can see my reflection in the window. My face is framed in a diamond-shaped pane, but I cannot quite make me out yet. I see dimly the hanging on the wall behind me through which I can still see the backdrop of tall bare trees. There are lamps on either side of me and one looks like a milk-glass fixture my mother has. But I only see it this way because this is a new lamp and I am not used to seeing it. Music is coming out of my window.
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