Maintaining, Or, ‘Blah’

I spent the day off cleaning up my house. I would have liked to piss away the hours on more non-productive things but there were too many signs that it was time to go to work. I couldn’t find a clean spoon, had to really smash the garbage down to throw anything away and I was tired of stepping over dirty clothes on the floor. In my natural fashion, I made an obsessive marathon of it and didn’t stop until after dark.

There was another apprehension at work, only the guy pushed some of us around and fled with a Kindle down his pants. I got a clear shot of his plate and the police put a warrant out for his arrest.

At one point an employee from computers, high on the buzz from having helped get someone, ran up to me and I expected a high-five. Instead he put his hand out so I grabbed it. He squeezed my fingers.  That moment meant a lot to me.

The seeds I’m sowing are slow to grow, but are growing. Every few days I sit in an old computer chair under the basement stairs and rotate little cups. I spray water onto soil when it’s dry and look at each type of seedling to see how it has changed and what it wants. Soil, oxygen, moisture, light – it’s a tricky game and hard to believe that I can get the sort of end result that I want. But I feel like, if I can take tiny seeds and turn them into flowering plants that are going to thrive outside my home this year then I will be one awesome mother fucker.

Forsythia

The Forsythia shrub is all yellow petals in early spring. It’s a really tough plant, always trying to sprout out like crazy every year.

There’s a Korean string instrument, the ajaeng (raspy cello sound) that uses a bow made from forsythia stick.

It’s nice to see something so early in the season, already in its prime.

And Like Soil To Seed Goes

This thing that showed up after me.

I felt the wind against my skin and the glow of the house beside me, busy with light and activity. From the porch I held my hair back and stared the cold disc down.

Uncertainty. Unnatural. Questioning if it has done more harm than good.

Not that there wasn't always something there, or something over here. It's just harder to deny with the giant receiver protruding from the lawn.

***

The whimpering of my two little dogs fades in. They've been begging beside me, bringing me back. My arms are folded. I'm sitting a few feet away from my desk. Where was I, just now?

Daydreaming, I must have been daydreaming. I was in someone else's garden… one of my friends out in California just said that she would plant a venus fly trap for me. I can't grow them in my conditions. I saw her kneeling down, cutting out dandelions from her yard with a spade, one at a time, temporarily severing topsoil from the root beneath the ground.

There is plenty of time to think when you're in quarantine. Going down in the typical style I took an entire circuit with me, one of millions. Trillions. Black satellites and hard tree trunks. Snowflakes and server lights.

I had a nightmare that there were tornadoes in the sky and it made me bring my shoulders in, made my muscles tense, like it stopped my heart, several times. My sleeping mind is obsessed with a fear that it has never seen in real time.

An old man I found at some Michigan gardening forum sends out his weekly newsletter in the idea of people waiting for the words of a 'certified nurseryman'. His latest installment warns just like the past few: I'm afraid a mild winter has its consequences…I have decades of experience, I warn you, it is still too early…

The sun is beating down. Green has broken the surface. Leaves are unfolding. Bigger and bigger every day, this is what I'm seeing. I think you're stalling, old man.

I think you're scared.

This morning I transplanted climbing vines to the outside ground so they can train on the trellis. Then I came in here and ripped the cover off my story.

Bring your strongest signal.

I’m Sorry, But Those Aren’t Free

Pulling at the straps of the anti-theft devices as if testing their tightness, a man continued to survey the flow of employees. He knew right where to break the plastic clasps on the back of those Dre Beat Headphones and SNAP, SNAP, SNAP, he suddenly had three pair free. In an effort to deter this guy I radioed to every employee for assistance.

My coworkers kept right on selling electronics. No one budged from their sale stacking, payment branding pitches. Their zones are more precious to them than any drama I have going on.

He crouched down and began to conceal the first bulky box under his shirt. No way would he go unnoticed as he walked around. Some people only need to go unseen long enough to grab their heart’s desire and make a run for it.

“Sir, is there anything I can help you with?”

“Uh, no.”

“Those look like spider wraps lying on the ground. Are you holding something?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? Do something for me. Go ahead and just stand up.”

He stands.  There is no way to act like the giant box on his chest isn’t there. Customers around him are pulling their children back, leading them away from the terrible idea.

“I mean, I have THIS,” he confessed, surrendering the product. “ I took the thing off cuz I was gonna pay for it.”

Needles to say, the managers didn't give him that option.

As I watched him being kicked out I thought about how, sometimes in life, they get to walk away. And that’s fine with me…

so long as they leave empty-handed.

In Which I Compose A Letter To The American Bad Ass.

Dear Kid,

My neighbor Frank was a bit younger than my dad. The two men shared a love for family, friends, their Michigan home and rock & roll. Frank would always call into radio stations under different obscene handles like Craven Morehead and request the songs by artists from Detroit. His characters often got air time – they were all obviously Frank, and they always got a laugh.

I remember being invited over for winter grill-outs. Dad would share stories about Viet Nam, the radio would play oldies and Frank would look on with respect in his eyes. If he ever came over to see us when no one was home he’d leave a few bottles of beer on the stairs.  I often heard Frank playing his drums late into the night, as people out in the country are able to do, and I remember one evening in particular when I stepped onto the back porch and heard the audio from a porno being blasted from his outdoor speakers. It was loud, it was Frank, it made sense.

I always sang my heart out on the swing set in my back yard. I wish every kid could feel the freedom of singing at the top of their lungs without having to worry about a thing for miles.

Kid Rock was a sound and a brand he believed in so he made you a big part of his life. Eventually the beer bottles he’d bring over had your own BadAss label. He attended a few parties where you showed up and surprised locals, after which Frank replaced his usual Christmas card greeting with photos of himself smiling ear to ear beside you and a busty ex-blonde.

As for me, I started to look over from my swing set to his house, wondering if I shouldn’t sing so loud anymore because you never knew: “Kid Rock might be over there and I wouldn’t want him catching me singing anything uncool.” You became a unique, unknown-but-present part of my life. That was nearly ten years ago.

Today I got a phone call from my family back home. They said that Frank had been walking his dogs when he suffered a sudden heart attack, collapsed onto the ground and died. The news was unsettling. I’d gotten used to the sound of distant drums into early morning hours and the idea of grilled steak in the snow.  I thought he’d always own the hilly driveway that I had coasted down on my bicycle – that he would permanently be one house away and perhaps, even, at my own dad’s funeral.

Now it is all suddenly gone. And I realize, with much regret, that it means you are, too. You will never “possibly” be next door again.

Goodbye, Mr. Rock.  I am going to miss you both.

Love,
Autumn May