It’s a young person’s game, this walking, this talking, this commingling with people at card tables and over paper plates. I step out onto the road nonetheless and slowly make my way to the rec room, carrying a plastic bag in which I’ve carefully stowed containers of hummus and vegetables along with a bag of pre-made pita chips.
In the wide expanse of the game room provided by the park, the manager organizes people bringing food. An unassuming man whom I later find out owns the place rolls a cooler filled with water and soda to a spot in front of a covered pool table. He goes out again and I say to the manager, What are you drinking? and she laughs. Vodka and cranberry juice, she admits. I’m off-duty. I smile. It’s a good drink, one which I have allowed myself to enjoy a few times at Rotary meetings. Drinking, too, is for the younger set. Younger than me, with better bones and stronger stomachs.
Someone sets up YouTube television and we hear the band start. Everybody clusters near the screen, murmuring about whether the windows should be covered, who’s bringing wings, will more people show. I hold one end of a sheet that a couple of folks decide to tape over the broad expanse of the nearest window. The man with the tape thanks me as though I’ve done something tremendous, but in a gentle voice which keeps what he says from sounding fake.
Then we all stop moving as Pink sings the national anthem. We all look reverent, gazing at the television. I cover my heart with one hand. Somebody standing fairly close to me smiles and does the same. I don’t think he would have otherwise but not in any kind of protest; more because he’s juggling a can and a plate full of food.
An hour later, I’ve drunk a bottle of water and eaten two squares of cheese. I see that my house-made hummus has gotten a bit of play. I worked hard on it. I had to drive into Rio at 9:00 a.m. because my jar of tahini had mysteriously disappeared in the world’s smallest kitchen. I made the stuff in three batches, using the little food processor that I bought for five bucks a hundred years ago in Arkansas. I tell myself, for the hundredth time, that I got my money’s worth.
I leave at half-time, thanking everybody for a lovely party, walking down the gravel road towards my tiny house. I see my neighbor Paul standing by his car. A new couple, the folks in the Air Stream, are out for a walk and I introduce them to Paul. I think to myself that Paul and his wife are about the age of this couple, whom I met and with whom I talked at the rec room. They’re liberal, those too; the man has a Human Rights Coalition sticker on his water bottle. I felt comfortable talking with them. But then: Everybody here has been so welcoming. Politics don’t seem to really matter much here at Park Delta Bay.
As the sun sets, I tell myself, this place feels like home. I shake my head a little and think, Or something like it. Then I go inside to make dinner, hearing the crunch of tires as one by one the park residents make their way back for the night.
When I awakened this morning, I instantly knew that it will be another beautiful day. I smiled, rose, and crossed the room to open the front door. I stood looking at the play of fog on the gravel road. By and by, I put a kettle on for coffee — just as I would have anywhere, in Kansas City, in Winslow, in Jasper, in St. Louis. It’s even the same kettle. Some things never change.
It’s the fifth day of the fiftieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
Top shelf: The little rain-stick that my son got at the Ren Fest two decades ago; and a butter press that belonged to my mother (flanking the speaker)
Middle shelf: A framed Anne Gedes from my sister-in-law Tracy Brady; a Colorado bell from Katrina Taggart; and a For Every Season rendering from my sister Joyce
Bottom Shelf: The Russian doll from Alan White and Lisa Bailey — missing the littlest one, thanks to a house-sitter who liked to take them apart; and a bowl from my parents-in-laws’ house which reminds me of them every time I see it