Saturday, October 29, 2011

Home Alone

Nothing of the eager laziness that defines the way they live at home. Here, they are visitors. I'm their host. I rally them to comfort. "Take off your shoes! You're home here, too." They don't bother to pretend they believe me. In their eyes: How can we be home here, if you're not?


I'm reading again. Four, five books a week, as if I'd returned to college.

I'm uncluttered; my mind's not only sad; I remember my dreams (literally); most days it's the little conveniences I miss, like a mitt for handling hot pans.

And again I'm sleeping on the floor, as I did when I was teaching at San Diego State; also as Amy and I did just after our wedding. I sleep well on the floor, although on account of the single-pane windows my throat aches mildly every morning.


What matters I keep to myself. You think I'm going to write about what matters—that I have the courage for that? Here, I evade. I digress.


I live around the corner from Belmont's library. I write there now, mostly, surrounded by books. Two days ago I was hurtling through a scene in my novel and a woman with Downs Syndrome sat across from me, despite the unoccupied tables around us. She leafed quickly through a fat US history book. After she'd turned through every page, she went to the shelves and picked out a new book. And again sat across from me and read, after her fashion. She breathed loudly; I could smell her breath.

For nearly an hour she flipped pages, while I attempted fiction. Sometimes she would look at me, as if hoping that I'd speak.

I wondered that I didn't gather my things and move to a different table. But I'm not that kind of man. My inability to move—or, to see it another way: my decision to stay—explains all that's wrong and all that's right with my life.


Not many birds. Mostly crows.

A crow's intelligence scales nicely with our own. I find that everything crows do, as I watch them, makes sense.

This morning as I pumped gas I watched one of them pecking at something in the middle of the street. Nonchalantly it walked out of the way of an oncoming car, declining to fly.


The night's are extraordinarily silent. More silent, somehow, than the night's in Half Moon Bay. Certainly I'm more silent—as if I were traveling through a foreign land, ignorant of its language and, as a consequence, unwilling to speak.


Two bedrooms. Nothing—not even love—is as expensive as optimism.


Tonight I won't see them in their Halloween costumes. But tomorrow night, after their grandparents have left for Michigan, they will, I hope, come for a visit. I'll make spaghetti; we'll sit on the carpet and watch a movie. They won't spend the night—they never do. Home—life—is elsewhere. They wonder about me. They ask themselves, looking at me, at my apartment: Is this what it means to be a man? Is this how a man lives?

Yes. I don't know.

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