We were all inching apart before Covid. The husband’s new since last September. The nephew and his girlfriend are beginning careers, leading adult lives that make my being an uncle no longer as important as it once was. My sister and I reacted to the passing of our parents in different ways, and we’re still reacting to that.
We spent several days sleeping in an orange grove in Trapani, home town of the man who wrote Pinocchio, then ferried across the Mediterranean and got a cheap hotel in the Tunisian casbah. Mitch decided to head back to Rome. I lent him the last of my money after a secretary at the embassy assured me that a loan could be arranged for me to continue my trip. Mitch left. I didn’t get the loan and set off for Fez with about a dollar in my pocket.
Driving out Wittenberg Road from Woodstock for our dinner reservation, we zipped by an overgrown driveway. In the driveway was a small pickup. In the back of the pickup, hood up, was a couple making love. Butt naked. Missionary position, as if modeling one of those lascivious early-1970s zodiac calendars.
I’ve started noticing the way my friends live, especially those following artsy paths. I found the courage to ask them about their money. It’s not something we spoke about much. It turned out that wealth doesn’t accumulate from the work one does as much as I’d been taught.
I hear a growing number of towns have citizen pandemic patrols. Some jeer at such fears, but wallow within their own worries about the potential of a return to an Obama-like past. Or even the bad old scary days of the Clinton presidency.
My parents were born during the Great Depression. They passed this fact on in stories, habits, and objects. Until her passing, my mom would keep washing sponges until they disintegrated in her dishwasher, or the dishwasher would break from all the sponge detritus it had collected over the years. My father would take back Christmas presents he’d given and then regift them.
The woman could make a friend of anyone. She knew the old families throughout Ulster, who dated who when, and who drank a bit too much or just plain couldn’t be trusted. She wasn’t afraid of mixing in the down-home info with her coverage of meetings and politics.
I’d sensed rain’s power when I was young. At the moment the 1969 Aquarian Festival in Bethel became a mudpit, my parents got caught out in that same storm’s southern origins as Hurricane Camille. My mother ran our Virginia county’s welfare department at the time. My father had a motorcycle and was called in to duty reaching mountain hamlets cut off from regular vehicles. We took trips through the devastation in the family car well into 1970.
A dinner date was arranged at La Coupole, the grand old Montparnasse brasserie. Enter all the Rolling Stones minus Bill Wyman and Jagger. A grand old time was started, with Charlie Watts holding court like the aristocrat he’s become, while Ronnie and Keith kept running off to the men’s room giggling. I felt at ease, like one of the crowd. A half-hour in I took a taxi to pick up French star Sandrine Bonnaire, and by the time I returned to our table my seat had been taken by Mr. Jagger. My knees went wobbly. “Did you eat my tartare?” was all I could say. He laughed.
I’ve not been exercising as I should. I blame the complex web of deadlines I tend to build around me, but know I can shift that if I really want to. I can walk the dog daily up the Myrtle Street hill I look at from my writing desk. I could do my stairs 20 times a day. I could even try situps again. I could eschew sweets of all kinds, be a body-woke man for a change.