(click below for audio)
Just enough background noise to help me focus. A fan blowing even though fall has come with its cold. But it is even and gentle and is taking me away from the daily sounds that can be so devastating. A coworker whistling all day, another one popping gum over and over and over again. The manly men in their jacked up diesel pickup trucks mashing their accelerators as they roar through town. Even my sweet children playing on their walkie talkies—the static and the squawking. The slow progression of arguing because one isn’t saying this right and the other isn’t saying that right. And then there is the ringing—the nearly constant ringing—in my ears.
Stress comes in many forms. I deal with it in various ways. Tonight, I am drinking vodka and Squirt from a St. Patrick’s Day mug, and I am just paging through thoughts. Fingers on the keys.
When I told S.B. I was going to write tonight instead of exercise, she was happy. Exercise, even though my Buddha belly and Turkey neck don’t show it, is one of my favorite ways to unwind. We bought an elliptical about a month ago. I’ve been using it five times a week for thirty minutes a crack. It is not making a bit of difference in how I look because I love food and drink too much, but it sure is making me feel good. Unfortunately, there is nothing that comes close to the relaxation I feel when I write.
“I’m glad you’re going to write,” S.B. said as she folded clothes. She had been home only a few minutes, but was already busy.
I was sitting next to Julian, my nine year old son, at the kitchen table, trying to help him grasp fundamental arithmetic that he should have learned two years ago. While he fumbled through four-digit subtraction, whining and erasing, and S.B. stacked t-shirts and underwear, I wrote a note to Julian’s teacher in his daily planner asking for help in finding him a tutor. S.B. smiled and folded and talked.
“I was on the way home,” she said, “and I passed our house and I thought if I think about it and put it out there it will come. Positive thoughts, good deeds, and your writing will get us there.”
“There” is not the big old Victorian we just purchased. “There” is the Not Without my Daughter house. A big sprawling home on State Street that has prime Lake Huron waterfront, tennis and basketball courts, and a guest house—all the shit that nobody needs, but that everybody wants. And the older we get, the more we realize that some wants are worthwhile. Sounds selfish, sounds superficial, but fuck—what’s the point of all this work and effort if you can’t have a few nice, quality belongings to share with people and pass the time. The big white brick house is rumored to have been owned by Betty Mahmoody, the woman that penned Not Without my Daughter. I’m not sure if that’s true, but that’s what I’ve been told and have chosen to believe. In any case, the house is tremendous and looks like it was meant for a writer and an artist—me and S.B.
I would like to own that house, but for that to happen I have to write more. I have to publish more. And people have to read more. The fact that I don’t put much thought into what people want to read and write instead whatever it is that I want to write isn’t going to help me succeed in the traditional sense of the word. But maybe, just maybe, sooner or later something that comes out of these fingers will strike a chord, hit a sweet spot, and somebody will hear.
Just enough background noise to focus and find words that help an aging, overweight man prove to the world that even the simplest parts of the simplest days can make a difference in the way we carry ourselves from one moment to the next.