Outside under the warm blue the scattered trees shading the sidewalk and peering up over the low shop roofs are fidgeting about a fitful, hot breeze. A few grackles and one male cardinal light on the brick edge of the vegan café across the street, just above a parked El Camino with a wheelchair in the bed. It is early September, the first free weekend after finishing a sunup-to-sundown, seven-days-a-week work project that lasted a little over two months. I am trying to remember what I used to do with myself. I’ve already eaten breakfast, browsed social networks over a cappuccino on the leather chair at the coffee shop and now I’ve moved on to the sturdy wooden table and a hot cup of Irish breakfast tea, staring out the front window at the lazy, early Sunday afternoon street, typing my thoughts onto the recently blank screen, blank for months now.
My life, for as long as I can remember, has been an exercise in uprooting and transplanting, taking root, growing, then uprooting again. From the meadows of youth to farmland of manhood. From the tended garden of religion to the wilderness of doubt. And now from the shade of her lifelong companionship to the arid exposure of her death and departure. You have to keep finding ways to survive in new climes, snaking new roots to find new water in strange soil. There is virtue in all earth, the same sun shines down, goodness follows familiar patterns and the waste of all you’ve lost mixes into the loam, feeding you bitter nutrients yielding strength you never wanted to need.
My teacup is empty, a few more dollars spent on fleeting pleasure, the kind you can buy. The birds have all flown and the shadows have shifted to the east, always moving east as shadows do outdoors. Lou Reed sings about Rock and Roll, how it saved her life, whoever she was. I want to tell you how I feel, but first I want to feel some way that makes a better tale. For now it is enough to recount the birds and the sky, a metaphor for growth and loss, a drink and a chair, a song and a street. For now it is enough just to say, “Hello.” I am still here, and I’m trying to figure out why.
Hello, friends. I hope you’re well.