To get used to: the reading glasses, the hair I no longer wear long, the too-red fingernails. But there is the birthday necklace, tea in a white pot, the exposed brick wall. When I was 27 I sat in an Asheville cafe with my boyfriend, bagels and coffee likely before us. We were so young. At the next table a couple, early 60s, sat reading the New York Times, glancing up occasionally to share something of note, to sip coffee. They held themselves with an easy comfort. Someday that will be us, I said to my boyfriend, and he smiled back at me. It was never us. But somehow it became me anyway, and across the table the right sweet guy reading too.
June 28, 2015
Which is not Papa Germano’s in a three-bed room, or her dorm in Brighton where I showed up basically unannounced and stayed for days. Which is not a visit in Evanston or London or San Francisco. Which is not hiking through Muir Woods in her big plaid fleece and rolling my jeans at Stinson Beach to walk through tide pools. Neither is it New Year’s Eve 2000 in her Noe Valley apartment or the weeks before her wedding when we painted metal buckets at my tiny Austin house then planted them with flowers. The deck tonight was not the Ojai hillside where she and Pat married and I read a poem, nor is it a rainy hike in Estes Park. It’s not filling compost bags at the Natural Gardener and then hauling back to my house, not rolling in the grass at Zilker, not tucking petunias into a few final pots for the tables at my wedding. It’s not Florence on the Ponte Vecchio. It’s not an Osteria in Denver. It’s not an Austin coffeehouse sipping cafe au lait under the oaks. It’s this one night in a long friendship, a night in which we pulled steak from skewers and I blew out candles on a birthday cake and we all talked a long time and then L climbed into her lap and said, “I’m tired.”
June 26. 2015
Instead, a smattering of what life has brought my way. An old friend in front of an old painting. A wedding, a message, and century plants towering against a stormy sky.
Meanwhile, back home, the daily continues. We shave and brush and swab and spread. We read Nora Ephron’s prescriptions of marriage, shared by a friend in a wedding card. We fail to sit on the living room furniture and fail to sell it on Craigslist. (Vintage rattan could be yours.) And the CSA basket keeps coming and cornichons go into vinegar and pickling spices and we can’t stop eating them.
In Austin the rents still rise and a few places, against the odds, keep the faith.
And, finally, a spin through Waco on the way home. A wedding ring store leaves me with far too much to say.
So unlikely we’d be there, in a Presbyterian church community room on a Friday night in Dallas. So unlikely we’d find them there, three Austin singer songwriters with their guitars and lyrics. So perfect to sit at a table covered in blue cloth sipping herbal tea and listening. So grateful when Michael Fracasso played our song and my heart swelled in my chest to hear it.
June 19, 2015
I was awoken, to start with, by one phone after another blaring flash flood warnings at 6:15am. Rain, when the plans included a walk with a friend. But our breakfast was delightful, the highlight of a day that wasn’t big on highlights. Then jumpstarting a car. Cleaning mold off the car seats, swatting mosquitoes. Conflict. Cleaning out the fridge. Tightening the sun visor screws. Trying to make the internet router cooperate beneath the old chair. Returning the almond milk, then buying it back again when it’s clear they will throw it away. Droopy dinner and evening on the couch. And then, before bed, giving the counters a final wipe down, I knock a full container of blueberries into the black hole between the counter and stove. As I dug them out of the dusty dark, watching them roll beneath the stove that Chris lifted with a heave, I thought it was time to put Sunday this Sunday to rest.
June 14, 2015
We strung the balloons. We filled the coolers with ice. We laid out plates and forks and weighted the napkins under bottles of ketchup. We cleared enough books from the shelves that nothing is left stacked, and we laid them on end on a table for choosing. We bought hot dogs sealed in plastic and sunscreen and insect repellent. We greeted Michael in his orange hat and watched him pile charcoal in a chimney for the grill. We waited. They came. They came with children and dogs and sisters and cousins. They came with memories and nervousness and for a quick spin or the whole day. They looked for people they knew. They hugged us hello and hugged us goodbye. Their children played in the water and came back slick and cool. The sun climbed high in the sky and the temperatures rose. The park grew busy and full. The hotdogs were eaten, one by one. We packed up. We thanked our volunteers, left behind a few cakes for the group behind us. We retreated to the air conditioning. We counted our numbers. We slept.
June 13, 2015
On Monday we smashed potatoes and then roasted them in duck fat until they were browned and crisp. On Wednesday the squash blossoms were so beautiful I had to lay them out for a picture. The frittata sang of yellow. On Friday I sliced cucumbers thin and laid them beside French beans, sliced tomatoes, and purple potatoes. At all there were olives, manchego on a bamboo board, the pickles I made from last week’s cornichons. At all there was conversation around the yellow table with friends I was happy to see. It must be summer break, with dinner at the house and no place else I am supposed to be.
June 12, 2015