From where I sit, I can see the neighbor’s house reflected in the glass of my mother-in-law’s secretary. Above the roofline, branches of a towering oak rise within an azure triangle.
A freighter came through our marina as I made coffee this morning, sounding its long low warning to small craft in the calm waters of the San Joaquin. I stood at the stove waiting for the water to boil. For a brief moment, I thought of dashing toward the ship’s summons; of calling to its crew; of seeking passage. The urge seeped from my veins, as most crazy thoughts will do, even in the still of my empty house. Steam rose from the kettle and I lifted the pot to pour over the grounds. I regained my senses.
Looking through the pictures on my camera, I marveled at the surroundings in which I now live. I always believed myself to be a city girl. After five years in the wilds of Arkansas, I fled north, back to air choked with carbon monoxide, streets filled with litter, and afternoon traffic around which I planned my days. Yet now I have returned to the quiet life, to spend the last third of my existence on the banks of yet another river.
Identity eludes me, just as it has done for six and a half decades. I am nothing and everything and something. I am someone’s daughter, friend, mother, sister. I am the noise, and the song, and the silence. I am the body within the soft fabric with which I clothe myself. I am the unknown factor in a half-scribbled equation; the word which does not rhyme at the end of a forced couplet. I am my mistakes, my successes, my sorrows, my pain, and my imperfection.
I am the broken factor on a corrupted gene that no one understands but which makes them shake their heads and say, Probably, maybe, we just don’t know. Here’s the bill for your co-pay. Come back in six months. Call if you need anything.
Geese fly over head. Their noise flows through the sky. Even my deaf ear understands their cry. They form a perfect angle and cut through the blue, towards the nearby lake, the boggy fields, the spots within the Delta to which they return every year without fail. I envy their certainty. I stand on my deck with my head flung back. I long to be among them, to take my designated place on a journey which has its own perfect rhythm. I watch as the flock grows smaller, flying higher, further, beyond my reach. Then I close my eyes and let the sun bathe my face.
It’s the fifth day of the eighty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.