..when he’s gone.
He’s off to the south for a while so I find myself looking for tasks to fill the time and yet avoiding them because they are just busy work. The sun won’t set fast enough for the back yard to be mowed and I want a shower but it’s silly to do so before the job is done. So I wait, filling my time with nonsense and distractions.
It is hard to stand back as the gear is readied and checked, then stacked by the door and itemized once more. Hard to hand off the crazy thermos of coffee (so named because it stays hot so long) and snacks for the long drive and just a few kisses before I close the car door and walk around the front.
Around the front so he can bump the siren and make me jump straight up, expecting it but not precisely knowing when and always surprised – front panel, hood, passenger panel or driveway – it changes per his whim but never fails to amuse. He laughs, says goodbye and I walk to the door, sometimes watching the car pull away or, if it is dawn or dusk, required to get in the door before he drives off.
The common theme is the AC in the car – it is a cop thing, blowing full on to ease the sweaty discomfort of a wool uniform, vest, tshirt and the heavy belt of doom. You can almost see the mirage in the air when the door closes and the window rolls down for that last kiss and goodbye. The artic chill rolls out and you have the indecently wonderful experience of cooling the 100 degree air that is trying to enter.
Inside, the dogs wander and then settle, knowing from the kit that this is no ordinary day. Ranger is smartest, forcing his way out the door later when I turned off the water beneath the tree. He had to know if his father was still there, confirm for himself the car was gone and with it, his best friend. I suffice, of course, with my opposable thumbs doing what needs done. But it isn’t the same. Kota settles her shoulders with the burden of guarding me, not trusting it to anyone else, and refusing to sleep in her preferred cold, dark bathroom because there is a wall between us, then. She won’t sleep deeply until he returns – this, her vigil.
As I watered the bleached grass and cracked ground, I gave a witch-like mental caress, invoking the rain later that would permit an easier dog walk – keeping the basketball thugs inside so that we could have the green swath to ourselves. Recently installed, I suppose we should consider ourselves fortunate that the annual fees have afforded someone a perq. However, we know it will only bring more thugs, more beer cans, more trouble. They did not fence it in with the rest and that was a subtle message – the good people who might use the playground and pavilion and who are closed out at dusk shall not be permitted as they are – no, the familial spaces are shut but those of the most obnoxious sport possible remains open all hours.
This sentiment could paint me in a bad light. But you have to understand where I came from – I know well what went on at those city courts when the balls fell to the fence line. It amuses me how the gentler, kinder citizenry keep thinking that the concrete pad and netted hoop will save them from the small arms fire and the flame. Never has and never will. And this development has me aching for a new vista that doesn’t encompass anything for 5 acres but what is Mine.
Work is changing – turning to a format of the 1950’s while declaring itself a veritable digital mecca. My ability to work from home will be severely truncated soon and it was the only draw, really, with every other perq removed over 2 years. I suspect it is intended to force some to leave without the expense of severance. Perhaps a year’s worth of torment and then a return to what the modern workforce expects and demands when the damned fool female executive can move on to another role and brush the ramifications of her dictate aside. With this change, my work ethic will also change. No, I won’t bring their laptop home. No, I won’t take calls after hours or on weekends. They’ve chosen to take 3 hours a day of my life from me for a “policy”. They will get no more of those private hours. And it pains me to be that way because I am a Helper. A Fixer.
It is a dismal viewpoint from the doorway. Troubles in every direction and no will to do more than leave it. I perform the calculations – can it be done? Can one live on that single salary in a place smaller and a plot larger? I keep a tally of useful things – a tree in a ravine with fruit coming ripe, a country bridge under which things might hide…and always the water…the requirement of every soul, everywhere.
I watch good friends taking what work is there, the constant feast or famine wearing harder on her, now…not young enough anymore to find a settled cheer and hope but rather old enough to know it a hazard and the fear comes, instead. That fear reflected in his eyes as he fights his way clear…not wishing to be the cause of it and not able, not yet, to settle that yoke around his shoulders. He fights it, eyes wild, like a wild horse looking at the bit. Even the rider has mercy for the horse, not wanting to break him but knowing it necessary to keep moving.
I look to them and think that maybe I could just suck it up and do what other people do every day…that unending rise, rush, wait, stop and go, and the repeat at the end of the day. After all, it is a good job in a terrible economy. But I see the work being done, the connections to the evil therein, and I hate being a party to that. I tell myself that maybe it is for the good – to know, to see it and be able to document it for later – but I feel like a traitor to my ethics.
I look at that sentence and it baffles me – I was raised with almost none. There was no goal setting, no achievements lauded, nothing to look forward to or look back on with pleasurable sentiment. Just struggle every day to work, earn enough for the roof, food, and maybe heat, and sleep whenever possible. And survive. Those skills I carry and I wonder if they won’t hold more value than the pampered “enrichment” that the young today are fed on. But they come from a dim and dank history and my feet wish they could move to a different road.
I was built for this life, for these days. The worse it gets the more that seems the case. Yes, he’s gone. Yes,I can do what needs done till he returns. Yes, I can be alone without being lonely. But there is a line in a book that returns to me and it echoes true – “I’ll light your bloody candle, but someone’s damn well going to hear about the dark.”