I am looking through a different window. Not my back window view of my weird black gravel backyard with fir trees evenly spaced. Or the bedroom window which peeks into the neighbor\’s meticulous back yard full of blooms and thriving bushes. Or the classroom window looking across to the ugly, brown portables full of children counting down the days to summer vacation.
My brother and his wife live in their retirement compound (I call it that because it has more than one structure) about three hours from us. Periodically I invite myself (and my husband) over to dinner and a sleepover. My sister- in -law is not too strictly vegetarian, but I was still surprised to see spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. And one of her salads, which contain very interesting things that no ordinary person would put together in a salad on a typical day. It was so good.
Three small, bright windows let the sun in over the lumpy hide-a-bed where we slept.
We are heading home today after breakfast. I loved spending time looking at my brother’s face when he talked or laughed. He did not like losing the card game last night but he didn’t yell at me or get mad. I am his little sister so I guess he has to be nice to me. Even though I am 56 and he is 71. I am still the fat baby in the infant seat sucking on a candy cane until he grabs it away from me. I am still the toddler that walks a few steps and then sits soundly on her thickly padded diaper butt in the middle of the front sidewalk. I am the annoying one who asks too many questions. The truth is that I don’t have strong images of when we lived in the same house. He was 15 when I was born and poised to fly. By the time I started kindergarten, he was in the navy and headed to Vietnam.
When my sister-in-law was smelling the soap we bought for her, she said that one smelled like her old boyfriend. The one with patchouli and lavender. She was talking about my brother. Their baby is 47. He has a daughter graduating from high school next week. We got a graduation announcement and she is tall and beautiful. When I write all that down, I feel very old, like a dinosaur who got lost. I am looking for my tar pit so I can become extinct and then no one will talk about me unless they are doing a report on their favorite prehistoric creature. I hate the idea that no one will talk about me.
Even though I have had all weekend, this is the first time I have sat down to write anything. I have just wanted to read my crime stories and a book about writing, rather than writing. But I am writing now so that’s good. I have to go back to work tomorrow, teaching. Four more weeks of madness, trying to get blood from a turnip.
Being with my brother is comforting and quiet to me. He has the bearing and mannerisms of my dad. He stands like him, the cadence of his voice is the same. I remember that my sister-in-law wore a long green velvet dress when they got married, and then I wore that same green dress when I had my 8th grade confirmation in the church. Who lets a 13 year old wear their wedding dress? I wonder how she felt about that, who asked her if I could borrow it?
There is no one in my family who carries that much of my mom. She was a ball of energy interspersed with falling asleep on the couch with a mystery novel on her lap, a cup of coffee getting cold next to her until she reheated it in the microwave. When I went to her condo after she was hit by a car (just slightly) in the parking lot of Petco,I found an abandoned cup of coffee in the microwave. I also have a memory of finding one in her last apartment in Tulsa but that could be something I made up because it sounded good in a story.
Our vacation weekend is nearly over and that makes me depressed. I don’t want to go back to work, even for four more weeks. I am going to unsubscribe to that email list that sends me job postings every day. It just contributes to my development as a malcontent. I have already stated repeatedly that I need to stay put where I am and see where it takes me. Quit looking to where the grass might be a little bit greener.
I could totally imagine having a writer’s retreat out here in this guest house on the hill in Wenatchee. I could put some snacks and limeade in the little refrigerator. I could sit in this comfortable teal chair and write while glancing at the clock above the table which kind of matches the chair. I could appreciate the blue sky and green scrub visible outside the three windows while I waited for inspiration to strike.