Thursday, August 09, 2012

a thunderboomer came through tonight, around four, when i was picking up three boys, two from a friend’s house, a third from his boys and girls club. both of our boys have an active social life in these last days before we leave for texas; we are leaving sunday, and this is thursday. one full day to pack tomorrow, and one full day to load the moving van and clean the house.

a wednesday night music practice session was hard to take, if only because my leaving ended such a good thing musically. one song in particular, we played it well, it seemed like the apex of our time together. it’s a true story of one of my partner’s ancestors who went east from wisconsin to new york, and met the love of his life there; this was long ago. she calls it a “railroad sea shanty.” the main point, i think, was that she had enough ability in her hands and arms to play the whole song well, as we like to hear it; she has been recovering slowly from breaking her wrist and has had to undergo extensive physical therapy. the song sounded excellent. that made parting even harder.

i was exhausted, having packed in 105 degree heat for many days in a row, and today started out slowly, since i had to get back out in it, and i was kind of mourning the loss of my band or at least my partnership. but then, at about four, as i was saying, this thunderboomer comes marching through, with its loud pounding thunder footsteps and a kind of hesitant rain which turned into a downpour, a downpour of two distinct rounds, the first one to soften up the hard parched scratchy earth, the second to actually deliver enough rain to seep into the ground and make a difference. both were good hard drenching rains. on the street where i took the ten-year-old’s friend home, a man went out into his driveway, hands outstretched, getting soaked, clearly overjoyed after the long drought. it’s the kind of rain that, since the temps have been over a hundred for so long, the ground is over a hundred, or at least over eighty or ninety, for several feet down. and as the water finds its way down, it turns this heat into steam but that steam takes a while to be released; it almost has to coax the hot packed earth into letting it go. and then, if it does, and everything works, then the grass can breathe and grow back, maybe.

so we have this full dumpster out front; we rented it; we filled it with stuff we couldn’t sell or give away, and easily got our money’s worth by tomorrow when they will come and pick it up. it has a layer of what my wife calls happycrap, little plastic nothings. now your true mcdonalds happy crap is actually sellable, people collect it, but a family with young kids collects a lot of nothing, not even wanting it, whether we go to mcd’s or not. and this is the stuff we have to decide about, now that the final moments are coming. there’s a layer of quilting clothes, i never quite cut it up. there’s a layer of sand for illuminaria, and cat litter, and hard core useless furniture. and finally, the garage sale leftovers- it wouldn’t sell, it won’t give away. into the bin it goes. it’s hard, i consider pitching stuff both an admission that i had stuff we didn’t need, and, a freeing thing, letting go of the burden of unnecessary or pointless material things. the order, as i understand it, is that they haul off the entire bin tomorrow afternoon, but we don’t actually move into the moving van until saturday, which could mean that on that day, we will have yet more decisions to make, and more pitching to do. but, for now, i’ve pitched about all i can.

i continue to get nervous about life in a big city of over a couple hundred thousand, which i have never seen, where it doesn’t rain much, though there’s plenty of work and i have plenty to do. the high plains, the west, the llano, this will all be different, a big change for an old guy. so i watch the indians-tigers game on my phone, and to my great joy the indians have come from behind to beat the tigers for the second time, it makes it a race, it gives us something to live for. the white sox are in it too, it’s actually a three-way race, and the winner will ultimately face texas probably, or the yankees. but i’m watching baseball, passionately, as an escape, from stress, to get away. as i flip through the leaders in average, homeruns, pitching, etc., i realize i know none of these players. i go to none of the games. i never watch it on television. i’ve fallen out of it i guess, maybe because my life has been so busy, so full already. sports i turn to in times of travel and of stress, when i’m in some hotel room or i’m like now, between homes, between towns, between lives. and there they are, the indians, i don’t even know them, but they’re beating the tigers, and giving me some connection to the town of my birth.

gave away a computer today, to a guy who, to some degree, was living in the same region as i do, but living on entirely a different planet. he’d run up against a powerful man in the area and had paid for it, in his own words, by going to jail, losing his health and his marriage, his livelihood, etc. he took the computer and found lots of our work on it; he had taken some hard drives too that happened to be in a pile. but he brought this stuff back, saying only that if we didn’t want it to get out there we should just put it in the oven for an hour or so like a loaf of bread and that would cook it pretty good. it was an odd exchange, because here i’d just done some heavy lifting and hauling, drenched with sweat and woozy, and the rain is pattering on the sizzling hardscrabble dirt, and he’s talking a mile a minute about some string of events that makes you say, i’ll bet there’s another side to this story. but the thing is, we’re leaving town, we’re the perfect people to tell this stuff to. gives me grist for the mill, stuff to write about.

another couple, they keep coming round, jumping into the bin and digging around. now this will be harder, since it’s all wet and the cat litter is seeping down into it, but it wasn’t pleasant even before, when it was over a hundred out there in the sun and you had to climb over the hot iron edges of the bin to get into it. the guy described himself as an uneducated country kid from missouri who left home hitchhiking at about the age of twelve, ended up in this area, has been working all his life but out of work now, and losing his health too. at one point he almost collapsed; this could have been from hunger, or from the hundred and five temps. after i let them root through the bin they came back several times, each time jumping in the bin and rooting frantically around. today he pulled out an old saw, rusted but from the old era. i hadn’t wanted to throw it away but it didn’t travel well and actually didn’t cut well anymore either. most times, i’m grateful if anyone can use any of this stuff in any way, before it goes to the dump. in this case i just wonder: is he going to melt down the metal? and if so, get what, some change?

hard times, and, sorry to say, i’ve kind of gotten used to it. more later.


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