Not the Same as Being There

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I close my eyes, pretending to be at our cabin. For about thirty seconds, it works. I hear birds talking to each other from among the tree tops. I try to interpret.

“See any good worms lately?”

“Yes, but why would I share that information?”

“Okay, how about water supply?”

“That I can tell you. Plenty across the way, in blue house’s back yard.”

“Thanks. By the way, you’re looking lovely today. Looks like molting was kind to you this year. Care to visit my branch?”


End of bird conversation.

A hedge trimmer starts up and a jet flies overhead. The moment is over. I open my eyes and look out my window at the neighbor’s adult, shut-in son, who has made a rare appearance outside. He’s yawning as he casts an anxious glance in the direction of the cable TV repair truck.

My husband walks in.

“Who’s that guy?”

“Cable repair man.”

“Oh yeah, that guy’s internet must be down. That really is a crisis.” He laughs and walks out to the deck, yells a quick hello to our other neighbor who is teaching his son to rototill, then goes back to flipping his chicken and apple sausages. It hasn’t been raining so his Manly Men’s Club membership compels him to grill for three days straight now.

Another jet flies overhead. I don’t even have to look up anymore. I know that was the orange and blue FedEx plane by the way it rumbles the house. I marvel at how it even stays up in the air. It’s like a whale with wings. It’s a poor representation of the Western tanager.

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Enter the young adult human, who migrates upstairs after sleeping until 11am.

“Can you drive me to the grocery store?”

“We just went. You should have gotten up sooner.”

“Well, excuse me for sleeping in on my only day off. I might be moving out soon. Can I take the downstairs couch?”

“Not yet. We’re still using it but I’ll throw in a nightstand, a box spring and mattress, two end tables and a coffee table.” Negotiations end. She moves on to another topic, the one about the pains of adult responsibilities. I start to feel empathetic about her long work hours at Burger King, but it quickly vanishes when I think about all the times I tried to tell her to quit trying to grow up so fast and to go to school to learn a skill.

“I need a vacation. I haven’t had but two weeks off since I started working.”

“You’ve only been working a year. By the way, if you’re doing laundry you should do it now so that we can get ours done today, too.”

“I always do my laundry at midnight. That’s when I do laundry.”

I close my eyes again, in an attempt to put myself at my cabin where there are no jets, neighbors, lawnmowers, or washing machines.

Looks like it’s going to take that three hour drive to make it work.


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