Duckfeet, Big Ships, and Missing Robin Williams

The half-moon shone her pale mask through the fading blue of the early evening as I drove home yesterday.  I slowed my car, groping for the camera that I had not thought to bring in the rush of morning.  I let my eyes record the fade from the grey edge to a ribbon of gone midway.  Then I continued home.

After the Tuesday Community Dinner — the second since we resumed, the last until we can return — I stashed my folding chairs in the car and headed to the end of G-Row for movie night.  I had never attended before yesterday.  My neighbor Louis had scheduled a special showing of The Birdcage in honor of Pride Month.

I’ve previously seen the movie, but never in the company of a half-dozen or so gay friends from a lawn chair in a meadow at a tiny house community in Northern California projected onto a sheet via YouTube.  As darkness gathered and the mosquitoes followed, we laughed, we held our collective breath, and we whispered to one another.  Oh, I had forgotten this part. . . What’s “palimony”?. . . Such a good actor!  We applauded the wicked little gesture with which Albert launched his most clever scheme to save the day yet again.  We sighed as the wedding scene unfolded.  We loudly applauded through the credits.

Afterward, I struggled to my feet, and reached for the arm of the young man next to me, asking for help back to my car.  His partner moved to my other side.  Thusly championed — Alex to my right and Travis to my left — I made my ginger way.  

What year was that movie, Alex asked.  I thought a minute, during which Travis supplied, Early nineties, I should think, which I affirmed.  

God, I miss Robin Williams, Alex softly admitted.  Same, I replied.


A brutal work day followed my late night.  I’m clearly too old to hang with the twenty-somethings, even for such a golden opportunity to observe a clutch of cultural icons.  I struggled through the tedious hours as well as I could.  Back home, I fetched a parcel from the lockbox and slung my camera over one shoulder for the trudge from parking spot to porch.  

The package turned out to be my latest attempt at shoes in which I can actually walk, this time a pricey pair handmade in Denmark.  I drew my pale blue Duckfeet from their swanky box with its leather handle, inserted the separately purchased orthotic, and buckled them over my lily white spastic feet.  Back and forth I paced in the slim corridor of my home.  Maybe.

As night fell again, I remembered seeing a ship making its way from Stockton to the sea as I dashed to Rio Vista this morning.  My camera had been on the seat beside me.  I grabbed it from its case and tarried at the bend in Brannan Island Road, straining to capture something of the wonderment.  Come evening, I scrolled through the SD card, studying the slightly blurred images.   One or two might do, I told myself, sliding into my desk chair.

Simple gifts offset the burdens of my life:  The occasional thrill of beholding masters at work; the comfort of a sturdy pair of shoes; and the sight of a freighter making its ponderous way down the San Joaquin.   There could be other rewards ahead.  If I hold steady, I might see them still.

It’s the first day of the seventy-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

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