uu 16 – letting go

locks

24 September 2015 – They step in the house together. Peter holding the screen door for Delilah. Pulling it to behind them. Her arm about his waist. His arm around her shoulders.

A reticence to let the moment go.

The foyer speaks volumes. Flattened cardboard boxes, rolls of packing tape, black garbage bags, a corded stack of newspaper. All of it against the wall of the stairs. On the bottom step a dufflebag and a knapsack, stuffed and ready to go.

Delilah shuffles to the open doorway on the left. Packed boxes on the floor and in the centre of the room an assembled mass of furniture and dismantled shelving.

‘Bit of an eyesore,’ says Peter, standing behind her, hand on newel post.

Delilah looks about the room. There are memories here. Close to being ghosts.

‘It’s all gotta go. Like I was saying on the phone. Won’t have the space.’

Delilah nods.

Peter scratches his head. Relates details about Mary’s condition in short sentences. The chemo. Their commutes. Her fatigue. No longer being able to get upstairs. Moving her to a home.

Delilah interrupts, ‘Have you got someone to help with packing?’

‘The auction house is sending out a crew tomorrow. And the next day if needed.’

‘Seems a lot of stuff.’

‘A lifetime’s worth.’

‘You holding up okay?’

‘Well as I can.’

They cross the foyer to sitting room on other side of stairs. Untouched. Two couches. An easy chair. Coffee table. Side tables. Video game controls. TV in corner by front door. Fireplace. Mantel. Framed photos everywhere.

‘The worst is done,’ says Peter.

Goes on to describe selling farm. One fell swoop. Needed the money. Offer too good to refuse. Everything he’d ever done up in smoke. The guttwrenching truth of having now to sell what little remains. Including the house. To move in to town. Commute wearing him out. Feels need to be  near Mary. For however long she has left.

Delilah’s circled the sitting room. Comes back to Peter. Whose final words on the matter come without emotion.

‘Nothing here for us. Anymore. We done our missing.’

He looks drained.

She touches his arm. Cups a hand over her mouth. Her face is distraught with guilt and apology. Saying more than any words.

uu 15 – monday morning

holes

21 September 2015 – Lazy Monday morning. Finding it hard to concentrate. Spending time untold gazing out the window. Watching the trees change color. Wanting more than anything to be out there. Running in the park. But twisted ankle pretty bad on Saturday. In full-on gimp mode since.

Knew a woman once who said that whenever you’re in pain to ask yourself who is the ‘I’ experiencing the pain. She claimed that by simply asking, the pain would go away. Something to do with the ego and the separation between body and mind. A broader discussion that brought belief into play too, though I forget how exactly.

This was years ago. When I was in first or second year. Don’t remember the woman’s name or how I knew her. Vague sense that she was an older student. Maybe we had a class together? Not sure.

In any event, the idea of questioning who’s experiencing your pain stuck. I almost always ask a variant of the question when something hurts. At least physically—don’t think it occurs to me to ask when afflicted by inner trauma/drama. And sometimes it seems to work. If only because I’m either trying to recall the woman or I’m engaged in getting the semantics of the question right.

How many eyes can one have?

Currently my ankle is throbbing. Time I iced it down.

On another note. Cups of tea and a dream.

Most mornings I get up when G brings me a tea and kisses my temples before opening the blinds and heading off to work. Though it’s been dark out these last couple weeks I still like to prop myself up in bed and slowly sip my tea until the first light of day colors the windows.

This morning I slept late. Don’t remember waking to G’s ministrations, but must have because half the tea was gone when I did finally stir. Holding onto a crystal clear memory of a strange dream.

Where I was looking at a large futuristic square in the midst of tall mirrorglass buildings. My vantage point was raised. I could see the entirety of the square. The centrepiece was a long pool surrounded by a low fence and set into stepped concrete terracing. Surfaces were slick and clean. Untarnished. Ultramodern. Unemotional. There were no people inside the fence but milling about the terraced area in perfect suits of grey and black was a veritable mob of office-type automatons. The scene had every indication of business-as-usual normalcy.

Until the balls came into play. Two or three of them. Bubblescent orbs that seemed to hover as they rolled. The orbs were like Zorb balls, only bigger, and made of something other than clear plastic. They were shiny and opaque and looked to gain size and momentum as they bounced off objects in their path. Each contact sent a kind of iridescent bruising over the surface of the orbs—like pressing your finger on a plasma screen.

The orbs began to shoot across the square and rise. Once they hit the buildings they each split into two smaller orbs, each continuing to rise at different angles. Getting larger, gaining speed.

Eventually, high above the square, the air looked like it was filled with bubbles.

And then the orbs bursted. Or shattered.

Every single one of them. At the same instant.

There was no debris. The orbs simply vanished. In their place hovered a shadowy humanoid figure. One per orb, so far as I could tell. Hovering as if standing stiffly upright on solid ground. Levitating, I guess. Militarily so. Legs together. Arms at the side. Head looking forward.

Toward me, it seemed.

And then they fell. All of them. Together. Each figure dropping straight down. Gravity fast. Feet first. None of them corrupting their stiff stance.

All these bodies falling. Terrifying spectacle.

I didn’t see the moment of impact. For some reason I was staring at the now open space where the bubbles had vanished. And above that the sky. Looking like it was contained by something. Something iridescent. The wall of a bubble. From the inside looking out.

A zap of electricity went through me, a quick shudder. My gaze went fuzzy. I felt jostled. Just as quickly clarity returned. I was back where I was. Stationary. Looking down at the square. I saw the fallen figures rise from poses of inert genuflection. Before my eyes their sketchiness underwent transformation. Each turned into a perfectly suited automaton and began milling about. As if nothing had happened.

I looked at the pool. Someone was swimming.

And then I woke. Felt my temples. Squinted against the morning light. Looked for my tea. Noticed it was half drunk. Felt the cup. It’s coldness. Precise. Like how I could see the dream. Complete. And yet trivial. An amusement for sleeping eyes. While strange was the dream, more strange was that I wasn’t really affected by it. It played out, then I woke up.

Oddly, all I can think of at the moment is something else the woman I used to know said.

Things are neither good nor bad but that we make them so. Belief is to whatever we tether the I.

My ankle is numb.

uu 14 – brightness on a cloudy day

a brightness

17 September 2015 – Even when things aren’t happening they are.

Let’s see. This morning drove Liz to museum so I could use her car to take Melville (G’s dad) and Dot (his ladyfriend Dorothy) to clinic. While Dot’s getting bloodwork done Melville tells me they’ve decided to get married. He’s so giddy about it he forgets that he’s keeping it a secret. I ask why the secret. He says they want it to be a surprise. An opportunity to take us all out to a house they know about on the ocean. Under auspices of a nice weekend getaway. Then drop their bomb on the Sunday. While we’re all there. The all of us being Liz and Marlon, Dot’s daughter (Alice) and her husband (Duncan), and G and me. I ask if they’d planned a time for this surprise weekend. Next weekend. I ask if he doesn’t think it a good idea to let the all of us know. He looks at the ceiling in consideration. I ask if they’ve booked the house. He seems to have lost hold on the conversation. I reach out and hold his hand. He looks at me and smiles and hooks his cane on the armrest and brings his other hand over top of mine and pats. ‘She won’t be long now,’ he says.

A few minutes later Dot comes into the waiting area flexing her arm. Melville’s up at her side the instant he sees her. Fawning and attentive, even though he’s the one with the cane. Her trying to shoo him off. Him persisting. Her relenting. Their forearms entwined. His cane not touching the ground. Her head touching his upper arm. Their smiles. The love in their eyes.

A saccharine little scene. Poked by the holes of a hinting sadness. A dose of checked reality (No, I’m not going to go there right now.)

Dot’s one in a million. A tiny thing but full of energy. Spry as a squirrel, sweeter than honey, never lets a negative word cross her lips, and bakes about the meanest muffins ever. No way you’d guess she’s in her 70’s.

We met the first week I was back. Hit it off. She tabled an open invite to come visit. Any old time. Which I finally did last week. On a whim. Heard her joyous shriek when reception called to see if I was okay to let in. Melville was off in the common room with his cronies. Gave us a chance for some girl time. We had a grand afternoon. Drinking tea and baking cookies and laughing about our boys. Simple stuff. But so nourishing. Just what I needed. Without really knowing it.

Been back twice since.

See, thing is, since returning I’ve been having a hard time not hearing anything from mom. It’s plagued me to think our bond is severed. Dad keeps trying to reassure my patience. But, you know, she’s my mom. We were so close. Upon a time. Even when I wasn’t around she was my warm blanket when I needed one. The sound of her voice soothed me. She always knew just what to say and how to say it. I miss the person she was. Terribly.

Maybe this is why I feel such a bond with Dot. She’s very much like mom used to be. Older, sure, but gifted with a similar spirit. We joke that she’s my happenstance mom. A role she’s touched to play for as long as I wish.

Anyway. After the clinic the three of us go for a sandwich. Dot clarifies the weekend getaway. (Two weekends hence, not one). Melville’s in his clouds. Doesn’t clue into what we’re talking. Hardly touches his sandwich. He’s eyeing a newspaper left on another table. I ask if he’d like it. Dot interjects. Says he can get it himself. Which he does. Using backs of chairs instead of his cane. Arriving at the table he stands there flipping pages. Dot pats my hand and leans in closer. Says that as bad as it seems sometimes I’m not to worry. ‘He’s got me.’

I had more to say but don’t have the heart just now to undermine what a woman is Dot. A brightness on a cloudy day.

uu 13 – bridging a gap

bridge support

14 September 2015 – Delilah takes another deep breath. She gets out of the van and stands behind the open door. As if shielding herself from the old man’s glaring gaze.

Time is upon her. Everything up to now.

The old man brings a hand to his face. Works fingers along jawbone. She can almost hear the rasp of stubble.

Even at twenty-plus paces there is troubled air between them.

She steps toward the grass-mired trucks. Toward a set of stairs at the side of the veranda wrapping around the main floor of the house. Her feet are heavy on the steps. The boards on the veranda creek with her weight. A line of late bright-morning shadow scores across the siding at waist height. She passes the backless benches centred under two pairs of carelessly shuttered windows. A trio of barrel planters holding nothing but dry grey dirt. Upper body in shade, she stands by the planter nearest the old man. Who hasn’t moved. Hasn’t turned to face her.

He delivers his hands to the front pockets of his stiff jeans.

Delilah comes out of the shade. Crossing her arms she leans in the light against the post beside the old man. An arm’s reach away. So close so far.

He is fully a foot taller than her. Broadly put together. But beaten. From the inside out.

Both face the view. The cargo van and the basking willow. Amorphous foreground blots against the boundless sky stretched broadly across the uniformity of corn.

They each stage courage in the currency of silence.

After a spell, Delilah drops her gaze to the wheelchair ramp. Shoes its surface. Rough grip of sandpaper.

‘Mary’s not doing so well.’

The words, barely formed, sound defeated.

She can’t find words. But reaches out her hand. Bridging the gap between them. Catches his forearm and presses there familially.

The old man places his other hand on hers.

‘Peter,’ she starts to say.

‘We’ll have none of that now,’ the old man says.

Tears beginning.

‘Papa.’

She disappears under her grandfather’s arm.

uu 12 – an exchange

saloon doors

07 September 2015 – Haha. There it is and then it was done. Very nice. My lines have been infiltrated. Very well then.

Every intention of going for a run. Grabbing the first man I see and bringing him back here. To this freshly furnished room of mine. A maiden voyage of sorts. The first of many.

I have the time, I have the energy. And now I have the purpose.

May have to invest in a daybed. If all goes well. For the time being sheets on the carpet should suffice.

A man should never come between a woman and her fantasies.

I hate you dearly :)

The stooping older man at the front door is Peter Bridge. Beyond that you’ll have to wait and see.

Who is Drew?

Perhaps we could open a bordello. Wendy’s Wing. Specializing in discreet daytime flings.

The daybed’s a good idea. But what about a cozy hot tub? Nothing better to create a stimulating atmosphere. And maybe replace the blinds with gauzy curtains. Splash some red about. Get a wardrobe of exotic costumes. Turn the downstairs into a classic saloon….

Hmm. This could get expensive. Might be worth considering Kickstarter to raise funds.

Meantime I’ve brought you a pair of tropical plants to spruce up the place.

How’d the maiden voyage go BTW? Any takers?

Drew is a mild-mannered member of the middle-class. A working stiff who’s made the most of his efforts, done right by his family, kept his nose clean, stayed true to his convictions, etc. By trade he’s an engineer. Spent a dozen years or more on municipal road crews. The physical rigours of the job took their toll. Taking advantage of sponsored higher learning programs he went back to school, got his credentials, and returned to work at a planning desk. After a number of years he transferred to more ambulatory role as building inspector. Now, on the verge of retirement, he trains novice inspectors. Which is how he meets Lionel, a trainee with bags of education, no shortage of idealism and intellectual conflict, but little in the way of life experience. Drew and Lionel establish a bond. Out of which grows a routine of walking and talking about the big things that are difficult to grasp in everyday affairs. Everything in Our Hands would be the working title of their conversations.

As you’re less than forthcoming re: Peter Bridge, what’s with the wheelchair ramp?

I despise your pulchritude.

08 September 2015 – The plants are perfect. I love the orange pots.

Why so coy?

09 September 2015 – Sorry. Working tail off rounding up potential clients—the park’s a busy place during the day. No takers though. At least not in the cozy confines of Wendy’s Wing ;)

The wheelchair ramp will be explained in due course.

I’m curious about EiOH. Is Drew an unhappy character? Does he like who he is/what he does? Or is he embittered about it? What about Lionel? Does becoming a building inspector fulfil his direction in life? Or has he sacrificed his dreams for a semblance of stability?

Big things that are difficult to grasp. Reminds me, I was wondering, if it’s not too much to ask, are you free in the late afternoon this Thursday or Friday? I have some sheets I’d like to try out. If cost is an issue we can discuss payment plans.

About his life Drew is status quo. He’s neither unhappy nor embittered. Things have happened the way they have and he’s fine with his lot. That said, he has doubts about the future (what it holds for his children, how his savings and pension look less and less secure with each passing day) and is growing more and more discouraged by how increasingly commercialized and complicated and expensive the world around him has become. Evenso, in the company of Lionel he maintains a moderate perspective that’s firmly rooted in the solid ground of having led a relatively straightforward, simple life.

Lionel is a trickier nut to crack. He’s a smart and sociable and pleasant person, but, at core, his views are shaped by the rampant consumerism of his generation. He has struggled to understand how the system behind it, with all its glaringly obvious faults, can solve any of the broadly sweeping problems it has created (these being ‘the big things that are difficult to grasp’). Leading him to question his own place in the world. How he can lead an independent and ethically upstanding existence while living during a time of such overwhelming compliance to splintered conformity and the power of money. Needless to say he has survived many days of moral confusion and deep frustration. States that he is working himself out of by focusing on smaller things. Like getting a decent job (with benefits) and making a way forward for his young family. He has yet to succumb to out-and-out apathy, but is tired of struggling to understand. In many respects, Drew and Lionel are similar. The main difference is where they are at in their lives.

Yikes. Bit of a mouthful there.

As to my availability…I’ll have to check my schedule, but I believe I am free both days this week. Money is no object where you are concerned. Shall we meet in the saloon?

uu 11 – first impressions

happy daisy

06 September 2015 – Tiddle-bit tipsy. Drinks with Liz after dinner. What a fine mess.

Her man Marlon around for dinner. Then off to ‘a function’. Liz’s expression when he said this. Deflated. Embarrassed.

He didn’t ask if any of us wished to go along. Just wiped his mouth after dinner and said he was off. Liz straightened her back. ‘What? Tonight? Where?’ He took her questions of surprise in stride.

‘A function.’

That was that.

He left. G washed up and headed out back to play with seeds. Leaving Liz and I to it. She asked for a sip of my wine. How could I say no.

So we drank and talked.

Marlon. Let’s see. They met at the museum. His son Chris was a regular at her Thursday afternoon sketch sessions. Marlon admired her patience and her technique. Told her he managed a gallery. Words chased words.

This was back in April.

In May he gave her a room in the gallery for two weeks. They’ve been together ever since. Plan is for her to move into his loft for October.

Nights like tonight giving her second thoughts.

I don’t know what to make of him.

Makes decent first impression. Talkative. Shows interest. He’s certainly presentable. Pointedly stylish—that dress-up to look like you didn’t dress-up kind of thing. Uppity hipster, if that makes any sense. And handsome, of course. In a geeky contemporary way. Not my thing, but whatever.

Actually, you know, as dinner wore on I found him self-absorbed and a little too OMG excitable. Not to mention the constant fiddling at his phone. And his willingness to LOL to it at the table. The vibe I get is plastic, phoney, privileged. Perhaps worst of all is him being used to it and not thinking it’s at all off-putting.

What do I know.

I’m looking at a crayon drawing of a colorful daisy with a smiling face. Given to Liz this evening by Marlon, from Chris. On the back it says, ‘To liz, mis YU. cHris.’

He can’t be all that bad.

Bugging me all night though is that I was pretty sure she met someone last year. Also through the museum. Murray? Michael? Mitchel? Had a daughter? Am I imagining this? Shall have to ask her at some point—didn’t seem appropriate tonight.

Rules and regulations. Terms and conditions. Fine print.
Politics of propaganda. Propaganda of politics.
Subtitlement.
Omens, Romans, slogans.
This business of smuggling. People.
Average cadavers.
Laudable causes.
Decade Zero.
Aiming for bright lights. Mothlike.
Walking with Drew. Meditations on being here now. Everything in Our Hands.
Galeano’s description of the cross as fruitful meeting of rain and soil.
Ross MacDonald.
Top Five. The movie.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.
Prepping Cornus mas seeds for stratification.
Tossing handful of Acer griseum samaras into pot. Just to see.
Ah. My words.
This is not my notebook.
There it is and then it was done.
My apologies.
(Who is the stooping older man at the front door?)

uu 10 – bridge farm

blocks crumbling

04 September 2015 – All the corn has Delilah fretting. The blurry green walls of it on either side. Field after field. A vast stretch. Too much the same to tell apart. She’s hunched forward in her seat. Hands clamped to the wheel. Knuckles white. Eyes trained on the road ahead.

Telephone poles glide by. The sky big and endlessly blue. Gravel grumbling beneath her wheels. Monotonous radio turned down low.

The van crests a shallow rise. In the distance a line of poplar trees. Tall in these flat lands, tall and leaning. Windswept like so many feathery plumes. Something to fasten her gaze onto.

She relaxes her grip, eases back into her seat, props elbow on window moulding.

Ahead on the left a break in the green wall. She slows the van. A huge willow gracefully billowing. Lugubrious boughs cascading over wide picket fencing. Thin leaves fluttering. A lively skirt tracing its shapely pleats to the ground.

She pulls slowly into the drive. At this end of the fence a weatherbeaten metal mailbox. Surmounted by a small sign. Bridge Farm. The letters barely legible.

At a creep she continues up the drive. The house comes into view. Beside the house, at a remove, a couple of outbuildings, cinderblock walls crumbling, and a number of old pick-up trucks mired in long grasses. Colors fading. Rust taking hold.

She turns the van and parks facing the house. Toggles the windows down. Turns off the engine. Sits there awhile looking at the house. A two-storey rancher that has seen better days. From the landing extends a long wheelchair ramp, at the end of which is a simple cargo van.

Running a hand across her forehead she takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. She is breathing in the smells. When she opens her eyes again there is a goodly sized and somewhat stooping older man standing by the open front door of the house.

uu 9 – successful surrender

surrender

27 August 2015 – A woman accustomed to waking in the dead of the night. To fend off bad dreams. That bear a frightening resemblance to the wayward reality she’s fought to put behind her. What disturbs her sleep is the sense of reliving her nightmare. Fear of the darkness that was. But what haunts her most is the chronic impulse upon waking to seek out needle and spoon.

She suffers a syndrome of addiction recovery. Drugs. Alcohol. She’s managed to stay clean for months. But the cravings are relentless.

One night she wakes to something other than the residuals of another bad dream. Instead of darkness a weightless light. An unusual clarity. Filled with hope and purpose. The essence of which is getting rid of everything.

Everything?

Is this Delilah?

03 September 2015 – First week back like a holiday. Skulking around the house. Its quietness eerie after G and Liz gone to work. The day ahead an ominous assemblage of hours to fill. Time to myself. To do as I please. Haven’t quite adjusted but getting there. Combating idle hands by running in the park and going for long bike rides. And today, at last, feeling centred enough to sit without the distraction of looking for a job.

Fret me not. A work in progress.

Things are otherwise good. Nine months along the house is much as it was, though there is less evidence of G’s mom. Doilies, vases, trinkets removed throughout. Many of the paintings have been replaced with Liz’s work. Biggest change = one of the spare rooms upstairs now sits empty. G figured it only right I should have a room of my own. Mission this weekend is to furnish it to my liking.

He’s got it in his head that maybe I should pursue writing. We had a good long chat about it the other night in bed. He’s convinced I have a gift. I countered that I’m not so sure I have the patience or stamina for it. Let alone the interest. He brought up Delilah. How she’s on the verge of becoming a story. I tried to downplay what I’ve put together so far. But he wasn’t buying it. He straddled himself on top of me.

‘Do Delilah,’ he said. Once, twice. Then launched into a chant. ‘Do De-li-lah. Do De-li-lah.’ His fist syllabically pumping the air.

I get to wake up next to this man.

On a somewhat related note, G’s current notebook. Before me on the kitchen table. A collection of quickly scribbled notes. Very few running longer than a line. Many are plants.

Botanical name – common name(s). FAMILY.

Overall it’s nothing like ‘delivery’. There are no narratives. No streaming or linking. As far as I can tell he’s dropped any mention of the personal. The entries are random, naked, rarely dated. Some appear to be ideas. Others, briefs on passing events. Albums and songs are mentioned, as is the occasional name. And of course a judicious measure of wordplay.

From the freshest page:

– The ssuddenness of miracles.
– Nevering the endless.
– Cecil the lion. And his brother Jericho.
– The year in abracadabra.
– Natalia Molchanova. Freediver who dove and didn’t come back up.
– Al Kooper’s early solo records.
– Successfully surrendering to flight.

Who’s the writer here?