This is the motel across the street from our house. Next to the Venus Arms Apartments. I love this rundown, ramshackle place. It is home to a couple of our periodically homeless guys when they are flush and can pay for a week or two. Most everyone else stays a night and then hightails it to the Creekside Inn next door or anyplace else they can find. Not that it’s bad, it’s just kind of old and flat and depressing.
Today it is raining. Our only day off together this week and we’ve sworn off going into town every weekend, so we’re just hanging out. I’m playing with my photographs and Yolie is out in her studio turning some discarded object into art. The dogs are sleeping in their various hideouts and everywhere the sound of falling water is pressing down, calming and soothing us and making us drink another cup of coffee or tea and stand at the window and stare out and stare out some more.
I thought I’d make a list of things I love:
My coffee cup, which sports a reproduction of a vintage coffee label “Ever-Fresh Coffee.” The mug is squat and deep and plain.
The bay window in the livingroom, which currently sports a bust of Qwan Yin flanked by a bird of paradise and a bamboo. Behind her head is the lush green wall of the escalonia hedge that hides the front of our house from Main street. Right now the rain is falling in the gap between her and the hedge, giving the window a heartbreakingly beautiful sense of serenity and perfect motion.
The aquariums full of silent fish and gurgling water and green plants.
Our ancient douglas fir floors, scarred and mauled by eight hundred thousand dog claw marks. Black stains from old nailheads. And the most beautiful, warm glow from the old wood.
Swiffering that floor. A deep sense of accomplishment floods my body when I’ve swiffered all the dog hair and dust from my mangled floors. When I’m depressed I will swiffer six or more times a day. When I’m happy, I can get by with a single pass.
The quilts hanging up on our walls. Yolie used to spend months on them, hand dying batches of fabric, sitching them together in off-kilter rectangles, then quilting a mass of interconnecting spirals over the top. You have never seen anything like them.
The painting over the mantle. It’s in sepia tones and shows a man diving off a oil-can raft into the dark, glistening water of a lake. He is in a full swan dive, suspended over the horizon line, poised between air and water. It is a hopeful piece. One of the few I’ve done that I am happy with.
Our big, comfy, overstuffed, dark chocolate colored leather sofa. It is amazing how many people and dogs can nap on it or watch Nova.
My wife’s cooking. She is obsessed with making the perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie. She is amazingly close to it, but I hope she never quite gets there. The batches and batches of “failures” are wonderful. She’s also gotten me to like lentils, but don’t tell her that. She does the same thing with food that she does with her art or her clothes. She can take the simplest ingredients and turn them into an odd, but delightful, experience.
My wife’s face. Her limitless, dark eyes, her passionate mouth, the light that emanates from her skin. And the subtle scent she gives off. Like a shy flower not making a big deal about it.
The wonderous train wreck of parenting.
The gift of knowing other wonderful people, all engaged in the same struggle, all equally adrift and equally determined to make their way. I love seeing how they all do it. How they earn their small successes, how they fail and how they right their little boats when the waves knock them sideways. How they sing as they man the oars. How they sleep, huddled together in the hull as the waves rock them and as they drift through a night awash with mad stars. How the night holds them.
My own body. The strength in my hands, in my arms and back and legs. The way it still does all I ask of it, or nearly so. The way it can wrap itself around the body of my wife and shelter her. Give her a measure of its warmth and strength. A place to go to.
Okay, that’s enough for now.
What’s your list look like?