On the way home from work last evening, I paused next to a tree in which I could see a resting egret. I did not dare to get out of the car. The creak of the door would startle the sleeping creature. I strained to adjust the angle of my open side window to get a snap with my cell phone. The distant noise of a truck approaching from the rear urged me to action. I raised my phone and shot through the dirty windshield before shifting into drive.
Later I sat on the porch scrolling through my phone’s gallery. A careless swipe took me back several months, to scenes in St. Louis and Kansas City during my spring visit. Here is the Airbnb where I celebrated Mother’s Day with my son. See the bookstore of my friends Will and Tom, the only retail establishment that carries my book. Look, see the street on which I lived, down which I dare not drive. Dusk gathered around me. Finally I went inside, looking for dinner, for solace, for calm within the silence. Eventually I slept.
Mid-morning found me on the road to Isleton, where I knew that I could get a fine tumbler of coffee and a life-changing biscuit. Truth told, the Saturday coffee dates of my Midwest life have morphed into this ten-mile trip on Friday morning to the nearly deserted streets of the old town of my zip code. A few stalwart entrepreneurs strive to raise the ghostly village from the dead; and I support that effort. The fifteen-minute jaunt seems a small sacrifice for delectable fluffy layers of lamination with clouds of tender dough. Pleasant exchanges with Ruby and Aleida give me some small measure of the camaraderie for which I yearn. It’s little enough; but something.
Later I sit in the gentle breeze beneath my ten-foot canopy, mug of dark roast beside a plate on which, I must confess, sits a small dish of orange jelly. I’m a creature of habit, though I’ve had to shift my rituals so much in the last five years that I barely recognize myself. If these are biscuits, this must be Friday, with the weekend looming. I lift my eyes to the inside surface of the umbrella and see a tender shoot of vine overhead. Something about its brave reach pleases me. A hummingbird’s shadow flickers past. I find myself suddenly tempted to smile.
It’s the eighteenth day of the one-hundred and sixteenth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.