My beautiful cousin Theresa sang “Going Home” a capella at my mother’s funeral. Thoughts of Theresa hover near me today, her birthday.
Theresa’s son Johnny died not long ago. I could not attend his service but I’ve made small gestures to honor him. Anything which I do stands small in the shadow of her lovely voice ringing strong and clear throughout the church with my mother’s casket sitting near the alter.
My five days in St. Louis rattled whatever semblance of complacency had adorned my life. I mingled with cousins, shared meals with siblings, and sat at the kitchen island in the new home of Theresa and her husband John. For some reason, no matter how many months or years separate our meetings, I find myself able to speak with candor to Theresa. Though I know her husband much less, his calm presence welcomed me.
So somehow, in a city in which I have not lived since 1980, I managed to wrap myself in the intoxicating scent of going home. Yet at the end of that comforting sojourn, a plane awaited me. Four hours later, we touched down and a flight attendant welcomed me to Sacramento. By and by a shuttle driver took me back to my car. I eased myself south by southwest on the I-5. Eventually I came into the Delta, to my tiny house and the river community in which I’ve tried to carve out a place for myself.
My plants had gone dry in the harsh wind that tears across our meadows this time of year. The peace flag which snapped off the house in a furious storm last December waved from its makeshift perch in the trailer’s tongue. The sheen across the fading mural glistened in the golden rays of the afternoon sun. As I have done so many times, I stood on the pavers leading to my porch and studied the little tableau. Rocking chair fading in the heat; round tile table; four blue chairs and a swaying umbrella.
In my absence, a camper’s RV had come to rest in the empty lot west of mine. To the east, a Class A fills the spot vacated by my neighbor Margaret when she moved her tiny house to Oregon. I do not like change, but such comings and goings happen among people who prefer to live in nontraditional dwellings. We choose houses on wheels because our spirits need the knowledge of potential escape.
I took my backpack inside and hung it on one of the glass knobs affixed to the back of my door. My suitcase could wait, filled as it was with clothes needing to be laundered. I paused for a moment, to get my bearings. If this is Tuesday, this must be California, I thought, my inner voice tinged with a small measure of hysteria.
In the morning, I would resume my awkward life as the backdesk of another lawyer’s office. I would take steps to set in motion the heightened publicity for the first Sunday Market of the summer season. A pile of mail would have to be sorted. Small packages awaited me in the park office. But in the quiet of my house, on the evening of my return, I ignored all of those obligations. Instead I stilled my mind and strained to hear the fading sounds of my cousin’s voice, singing her sweet farewell to my mother nearly forty years ago.
It’s the third day of the hundred and second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
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