Trial and Error

Today worked out okay. I mean, if we could have trial runs of our days before we actually lived them, today would pass. I did a lot outside, worked on some things in here, had a decent acceptance for an essay, got ahead on another project, and listened to the rain on the skylight above my head while working; it’s better than background music. It is background music.

At the river earlier some gulls huddled together against the wind and they walked before me aimlessly up the sand before the jetty. The tide is exceptionally low and I could walk well out to the end of the rocks for my best view both up river and out across the bay.

I saw a deer near the shed. Another at the point this morning.

I stopped at 711 for a Slurpee and a man contemplated the various size hot dogs, some with extra spices and some stuffed with cheese. Another guy noticed that gas went back up but he didn’t seem to mind. Not nearly as much as the one buying kerosene at almost seven dollars a gallon. This is a boater’s world though, where there are three times more boats than people in the village, and more often than not the conversation is about diesel engines, traps, shrink wrap (yes, many boats get shrink wrapped for the winter), and a fire at one of the live-aboard marinas a few weeks ago where no one got hurt and where a friend of mine lives aboard his 27-footer and only woke because someone smashed the glass to get the fire extinguisher next to his slip.

The manager Sue said she liked the old breakfast empenadas better than the new ones. Jimmy bought his case of Bud and Lee his iced coffee. Michelle bought cigarettes and wondered what she would do after she brought her little girl to school. Curtis complained because Curtis complains.

I was awake. Not caffeine awake; new-birth awake, each sound, each comment and action I picked up and held for a moment, as if everyone else was moving just slightly behind me, like I had the edge today. I have no idea how to explain it. I was really awake. Like I could hear every rain drop, individually, hit the surface of the bay.

Some lady with two kids who screamed out every item in the candy aisle demanding she buy it for them and to which she screamed back at them before, of course, buying it for them, has got to be guilty of some sort of child abuse. Should it be legal to let your four year old eat two snickers bars and a donut with her chocolate milk at 6:30 am and then scream at her for dropping an Ipad which she brought in from the car, on the floor? All the while this woman managed to drop the F-bomb—TO HER KIDS—in every sentence, often several times per sentence. The fact she came into the store the same morning I was crack aware of everything around me is just bad luck.

So I left and went to the bay and sat there for an hour, more, sat there and thought about my brother and sister and how much I admire them, their integrity and example, and my mother and her perseverance through everything, and I mean everything. I thought about my friends like Laura and Letty who are fighting the battle of their lives, and others like Sean and Mike, the other Sean and Rick, who have more kindness and compassion than seems normal, yet is instinctive to them.

I thought about Michael, my son, who—no kidding here—is kinder and more genuine than anyone I’ve ever met, and how much he reminds me of my father in so many ways. I wondered if he has any clue that his art is masterful, and I know art.

What would I do if we could have had trial runs of our days? Which ones would I have cancelled entirely, which ones would I have made slight adjustments, and which ones would I look at and say, “Yes, good, that seems right.”

And as I watched two buffleheads land in the bay and immediately dive for breakfast, I realized I’d not change many at all.

Certainly I would have x-ed out a few: that one with that one phone conversation. Gone. And when Mike called to tell me about Dave. When I called Mike about Roberta. I would have stopped a friend of mine from getting in a taxi; told him it was a bad idea. I would have asked another friend of mine to get in a taxi; told her it was a really good idea.

But for the most part I wouldn’t change anything. It has been one hell of a ride, and even some of the seemingly bad events that others might look at and say, “Come on! How can you NOT change that?” I’d leave alone.

I’m glad I whacked my ankle.

I’m glad I got lost and ended up on this dead end road.

I’m glad I left that job.

I’m glad for the times I have struggled because they made me stronger.

I’m glad for the times I was hurt and I cried because they made me more aware.

I’m glad for the times I was rejected because they made me better at what I do.

I’m glad for the times I asked for help because it showed me the kindness of others.

I keep thinking of Alanis Morrissette: “Thank you clarity.” That was today. The most like this I’ve ever been was when we were on the Camino de Santiago from France across Spain. Today was unique, but over there this was a constant state of being, from the time we woke until the time we slept again we remained aware, in the moment, in conversation with everyone around us, listening to everyone.

Today was very Camino-like. Only I was in 711 walking down the aisles, which is a kind of pilgrimage of its own, depending upon how hungry you are.

Everyone has a story, a struggle, a dream, a disappointment. Everyone survived something that should have killed them, has been rejected, has known deep-to-the-soul pain.

And apparently everyone ends up at 711 to tell everyone else about it.

I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. I really wouldn’t.

Except that mom with the two kids; I’d kick her and her filthy mouth the f**k out of there.

You want to get in touch with every single slice of American culture? Every economic level, every race, religion, every pain-stricken and passion-filled tortured and celebratory soul? Go buy a Slurpee.

3 thoughts on “Trial and Error

  1. Bob, I think this is one of my favorite reads from you! I had decided that my word for this year is  thankful. You are on the right track my friend.  I am keeping you and Michael in my prayers and your friend Letty as well.  Perhaps you have given further thought to compiling a book from this blog?  I hope you do. Your Harrisonburg fan,Diane 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


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