City crews had just finished tearing up the section of Pine Street South that borders our home on the east side, and replacing it with a new bed of crushed & fines and then a fresh layer of asphalt on top. Heat from the new road surface condensed as the misty rainfall and warm new roadway made nice for the first time, and blew gently in a northerly direction. The scent of fresh asphalt was still in the air. I stood at the gate of our small porch, beneath a large, grand ole Cedar Tree as the moment unfolded until a local crow landed on a powerline nearby and broke my gaze. I lit a smoke and got to rememberin’ –
Rememberin’ the part of my life that was spent as a carpenter workin’ outside on such a cold and rainy day as this. Rememberin’ how my fingers would get so cold that when I reached in my nail bag that the point of a “nail” would often get stuck where a fingernail met the skin. It was a time that was all about hard, physical work, the sort of work that lent to showerin’ at night and fallin’ asleep as soon as my head met the pillow.
In those “old days” days I remember looking forward to lunchtime because at lunchtime we’d gather up scraps of wood and make a fire on the jobsite. The crew would gather around the fire and drink coffee from our thermos’s and eat our sandwiches and snacks, talk story and listen to Paul Harvey on the transistor radio that one of us brought. It was a simple life. A good life.
For a beat I missed them days. Just then the crow took off from the wire headfirst into the wind, and my thoughts changed. I took a long draw off my smoke and exhaled, watched as the wind whisked the smoke away in a northerly direction, and the crow to the south.
I got to thinkin’ about Kendra, my common law wife. How the hole in her marble sack affects every aspect of her life. How she only recognizes that fact in passing moments. How the bliss of not knowing is sometimes a wonderful thing for one, a nightmare for another. Pesky pendulum’s…
In the next beat I condemned myself for failing at quitting tobacco, condemned myself for the wrongs I visited in my life to those that once loved and trusted me. Watched as a neighborhood squirrel climbed that old cedar tree near where I stood with a sense of urgency as if I were poison, stopping for a beat to wink me a “hi” just the same. That moment grounded me.
I pinched the cherry off my smoke and tossed the dead butt into the garbage can that lives on the porch. I thought of my children, my grandchildren as I crossed the threshold back into the warm of home. Wished I could live my life over again and do it “right” this time.
I closed the door behind me and listened as the mechanical magic of the door knob did it’s stuff.
“You hungry?” I shouted out to Kendra.
She said nothing. Didn’t answer. Figured she didn’t hear me. Afterall she’s deaf in one ear, eh? I didn’t ask a second time…