The town of Swanson is run by those who sharpen pencils. That is not a metaphor. It’s the premise for the improv show Chris performed in — Small Town, Big Secret — on Sunday night. So of course there were protective suits, contagious diseases, a mayor bent on keeping everyone sick, an unhinged doctor, and one hero — Chad, or maybe Tommy — who wanted to save them all. That was my guy. Chris started taking improv classes five years ago and he’s kept at them for the fun of it, for the community and challenge and laughter. A crew of us came out to cheer him on Sunday night, and our cheers were loud. He was great, and we were proud.
March 8, 2015
True, it was so balmy in Austin today that I took a walk during lunch and removed my jacket on the way back to let the sun warm my shoulders. Still, all day I was tuned to the weather as a blizzard — “crippling and historic” predicted Mayor de Blasio — spun toward New York City. B was on a plane from LAX headed straight into it. It was a work gig, already scheduled, and she didn’t want to risk missing it. So by 6am the texts were flying. We checked flight trackers, web sites that showed airports mostly closed. We wondered about the roads between JFK and Manhattan. We breathed a sigh when her flight landed. By nightfall the temps dropped in Austin and I sit before the fire, feet stretched toward the heat, laptop open, getting news. B is safely in her hotel near Grand Central. We wait to hear what bears down in the night.
January 26, 2015
B, en route to L.A., leaves later than we want. Forgets to get the car inspected. Sits with us while rush hour hums so that she can have a final dinner with her mom at the busiest restaurant in town. We all do what we can to prepare for departure, which means preparing to be apart, to be here while she builds a life somewhere else. Thus, the grumbles. The uncertainties. The way we look too often at our cell phones. And still, in the driveway, we hug again. And once more.
January 16, 2015
To move to L.A., start with the clothing. Dresses, black and otherwise. The hat you might wear to Burning Man. The vintage Chinese dress your stepmother wore to a wedding a decade ago. Sweaters. Swimsuits. Underwear. Find the bookshelves, collapsible. Sheets. Towels. The books you can’t live without, the cords that connect your devices one to another. To move to L.A. check the weather, ensure the roads are done icing for the week. Wait for a phone call, share another dinner out. To move to L.A. burrow deep into the room that has been yours for almost half your life and see what’s there. See what’s needed. See what’s not.
January 13, 2015
With B home, we make white beans with Italian sausage and extra garlic. We make chicken stew and spaghetti squash. We make scrambled eggs and English muffins, pork chops with broccoli rabe. After we eat we sit — always our same three seats at the table, always a green napkin for B, brown for C, red for me — and talk. This may be the best moment of family life, of all lives — food eaten, dishes not yet cleared, stories and laughter and enough warm up to have the realest of conversations. In a few days B drives to LA and officially starts her life there. This last lit bit of childhood ritual is grasped and held, found in the post-meal plates still waiting on the table.
January 8, 2015