In October I was taking a general introductory course in psychology and medical terminology while looking for work and working very part time at a little at a preschool. I was thinking quite a bit about how I had maneuvered into this particular space in my life, about choices, obstacles and mirages that I steered around and through to get here.
What is my life now and why is it so different?
I was thinking about all the moves we have made since we moved to Washington, the biggest move of all. We came a thousand miles to the island to live in a tent in a friend’s backyard with 3 children for a month, then out on the lake, driving to work on frozen roads past the eagle trees and swan fields. The world around our house froze into fantastic silver. Then we went back to the island on the side of mountain in the house with the big wall windows facing the mountain sunrise, Kulshan and the Sisters and the bird chorus mornings in the spring and summer, riding the waves to work each day and waiting for the boat to come and take me home. After that the short time in town, the letter streets, walking to the fellowship, feeling a part of a community, almost, as much as ever. Then down to Mount Lake Terrace and the horrible crawling commute across the floating bridges, so much water to cross in Washington. And then to Kent when I worked in White Center and Burien on the West Side, Richard Hugo’s haunted ground, but now working at Head Start with the immigrant families from Africa, Somali enclave villages. In Kent life is spread over 30 miles from church to downtown to hiking trails and the zoo in Tacoma and Mary’s work in Bellevue. So back we come to Bellingham to focus our life in one place, but life will not be still and just as many things fall apart even in the closeness of a small city. I went back to my old job and every year it got more difficult to help families and teach children. Mary couldn’t do church work anymore and decided to become a nurse after a frantic search for a better path. All of this while we struggled to find ways for our children to learn what they need to live and negotiate our relationship through tidal surges and troughs as I felt my way through my usual dimly lit self-centered tangle of reflection and reflexive insomniac haze. It all cascades down to this October, children grown some on their own, Mary a nurse and ready finally to buy the house she has been dreaming for all these nomadic years, and I, unemployed mostly, feeling about in the dark for a way to paste some sort of living from my fractured passions without losing too much of any of them. So much moving without a lot of getting anywhere.
I was busy yesterday but only in spurts.
Mary and I trying to sleep on a couch. I touch her gently.
She says, “Maybe we shouldn’t here.”
A frumpy woman, wearing a scarf over her head, enters and begins picking up pieces of white paper off of the burnt orange shag carpet, muttering loudly to herself in a language I can’t understand. All around us blank white walls of a room that is empty except for an brand new black and white portable TV with a ratcheting channel dial, down the adjacent hallway dark veneer paneling looms.
“Someday I will make it more than just a passive system,” I say talking about a computer to a small vague group of fashionable but casually dressed professionals.
Mary comes in and sits down on the floor facing a small laptop. Everyone nods knowingly. She starts pushing buttons and music emanates from the walls.
“Early Pink Floyd from the Sid Barrett days,” I comment.
“Step away from the screen, Mam,” said the female voice of authority coming from outside of the screen door.
“Whose out there?” I ask confused.
“It is Mr. Death.”
I push through the door and see light leaking out from small spaces the wooden steps I am standing on.
“Who’s down in the basement?” I yell through a crack. The words coming out in slow motion through my rubbery lips.
Before this dream dreams about zombies: one with a head like “Eraserhead’s” baby and sitcom housewife zombies trading bites of each other while having a friendly chat.