uu 36 – olive these apologies

empty car

30 April 2016 – Think it safe now to assume Liz’s budding romance with the neighbor, Benson, is past the jinxing stage. Hope so. Been holding off mentioning it just in case. But there’s no getting around it here. We, Liz and I, spent the entire day with his girls, Tammy (8) and Tracy (6, soon 7). Firstly at an arts market, where Liz had a table for the morning. She sold over 30 pieces. By far her largest number of sales at one go. Couldn’t have hurt having the girls behind the table. They’re so cute together and were totally into playing their part. We took them for lunch after (ramen, their choice), then to Tammy’s baseball game way out on the edge of town. Liz’s very much into the team dynamic. Knows the coaches and players by name. Has built up a great rapport with the other moms. Joining the banter between plays. All of them attentive to the game. Ever at the ready to cheer or call out words of encouragement. At a minimum, each pitch and swing of the bat merited a round of clapping from both sides. Strikes and hits escalated the excitement. And even though Tammy’s team was being soundly outscored, nothing negative escaped anyone’s lips. Support was the name of the game. I had no idea what was going on half the time. But no one minded. Everyone super chill. An out-and-out family-friendly atmosphere. Conducive to everyone getting along. Quite the microcosm and not a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon. Back at Benson’s the four of us made chicken skewers with rice and salad for dinner. The girls were amazing. All day long. Excitable and boisterous, sure, but also courteous and considerate. Didn’t once ask about their dad (who’s off on a business trip til tomorrow night). And couldn’t wait for night two of their slumber party with Liz (blow-up mattress, sleeping bags, and mounds of teddy bears in front of the TV). When I took my leave Liz saw me out. She thanked me for joining them. Said she wasn’t sure how it’d go—this was the first time she’d had the girls by herself for a weekend. Couldn’t have gone any better. I refrained from called her Mama Liz. Too o-bomb. Still, she done well. And, without getting too carried away, it looks good on her.

01 May 2016 – Watching G pot up baby plants. He looks completely at peace. Can’t stop thinking of him in these moments with his own child(ren). Think I need to go for a run.

03 May 2016 – The eeriness of being the sole passenger aboard a subway car in the early afternoon. Finding strange enjoyment in skimming SciFi paperbacks (currently Richard S McEnroe’s The Shattered Stars—G brought home a small library from work last week). Imagining what it would be like to go everywhere with a stroller. Hormones.

04 May 2016 – Sonora. One of the new girls at work. Who has a wonderful way of swearing in public. She says, ‘Origami!’ Which makes her chuckle to herself. A girlish ‘tee-hee-hee’ kinda chuckle that seems to smooth rough edges—just thinking about it lifts my spirits. Beyond that she’s as disarmingly likeable as her name is beautiful. Spent the day being her shadow. Seems we have fair bit in common. She’s my age. Is from out East. Moved here on whim to take job as nurse’s aide. Had to return for family matters. Spent a year sorting herself out then came back thisaways for school. Just finished her third year of a degree in social work, and is now in throes of seeing what direction she’d like to pursue. On weekends she works at an assisted living facility. She volunteers at a youth shelter and is also involved in music and horticultural therapy projects that aim to aid in memory care while promoting enhanced quality of life. (Oh, and there’s a boyfriend in the mix somehow, though she didn’t elaborate beyond saying it’s complicated.) With all this on her plate I wondered why she’d take on another job. ‘The money’s good,’ she said. Plus, she wants to remind herself what normal people are up to. Actually, what she said was ‘supposubly quote unquote normal people’. I don’t know why but ‘supposubly’ made me laugh. She laughed too. Then asked if we were laughing about her saying quote unquote. ‘It’s a hang-up I have,’ she said. She’s so endearing I told her why I laughed. And then she said, ‘Origami!’

05 May 2016 – Made G print off and read some of his hard drive thought poems to me. He’s quite good at this. Once he gets in the headspace. And lets he free hand go wild. Here’s one of the shorter ones, called Sunshine:

‘Temporarily diverted by common denominators. Having it on good authority that my aim is not as true as I’d like it to be. The warm gun in my hand doesn’t remember how it got there. Convenient amnesia. Forget the favors you thought you deserved. Forgiveness owes no one any explanations. I own my own excuses. Make believe alibis. Of olive these apologies the best are beech and oak. Trees where once stood houses. We are not the climax we think. The tendency to butter our bargains with handshake promises that were never intended to be kept. Though they sounded good at the time. The mines of today’s false heroes, tomorrow’s imposing rebels. Frail remains in this conspicuous goldenage of immoral millionaires. That everyone ‘knows the deal is rotten’ and feels powerless to do anything about it. Sleighting hands. Ruthless attorneys and their expressionless clients—perhaps the guiltier the least expressive (who could know as the best defence is silence). Nails on blackboards. Only we could invent out and out denial because the blatantly obvious does’t suit our ideology. That what the commonfolk want is forever in the back seat (of the cars they can no longer afford to drive). There will always be those particular things you can’t seem to accurately describe. Particular things that bite beneath the skin. Leaving holes. Masticated shrapnel. And then there’s the gun again. A heavy silver-black thing. Still warm but doesn’t smell of release. Before I picked it up it was on the windowsill. Spending a pleasant afternoon in the summer sunshine.’

(Getting close to the end here. Must conserve space.)

08 May 2016 – It’s been a long and terrible two days. Sadly, and not unexpectedly, Melville went into palliative care today. We are deeply inside ourselves.

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uu 35 – delilah sighs

d sighs

Delilah and Johnny in a roadside diner. She’s absently looking out the window, chin nestled in palm. He’s close to his plate, nibbling at the last of his fries, gaze locked on the map spread over the table to his right.

The waitress comes around, asks if they want anything else. Delilah says no, asks Johnny. He shakes his head no. Delilah asks for the bill. The waitress pulls receipt book from waist apron, rips out page and places it on the table, takes Delilah’s plate.

After the waitress is gone Delilah draws herself square to Johnny, asks if he’s got everything straight.

I think so, he says, still nibbling fries.

Delilah brings the outside of her wrist to her forehead and rubs a few times. Okay, she says. So. I just wanted to say that, you know, before we go, that, well, I’ve been meaning to…

Her hands are together on the table now. Fingers wrestling. Knuckles white. Fingernails scratching. The muscles in her forearms bobbing.

I don’t know how to put it but I just wanted to say that there are reasons I haven’t, you know, been around for awhile—

Johnny says something quietly to her hands.

Sorry?

Johnny sits back and, still looking at her hands, says, Three years.

Delilah’s fingers freeze.

Since you last came to the house.

Delilah looks out the window. Pinches earlobe between fingers.

I’m very sorry about that. How long it’s been, I mean. But—and I’m not making excuses, specially with gran getting sick and all—but I wasn’t in a good place—

It’s okay, Johnny says softly. I think I understand. Not everything or nothin. Just that grampa said you were trying get yourself better.

Delilah sighs.

Three years was way too long a time. He went and grew up and she missed it.