Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturday Musings, 01 November 2014

Good morning,

A light frost kisses the mound of leaves in the yard outside my window.  I sit on the couch, the green couch that I never thought about wanting.  It's flanked by my rocking chair, and at its right arm, there's a child's chest.  It's a toy dresser that a grandfather from a family not my own made for a daughter not my own.  On it sits a giraffe puzzle from the Renaissance Festival which I purchased for my son over twenty years ago.  I feel as though I'm in a cubby, coffee at hand, newspaper abandoned on the oak coffee table, and the half-raised blind letting in the feeble sunlight struggling to overcome the barrier formed by the remaining leaves on the neighbor's trees.

A squirrel scampers down the trunk of the maple on the west side of the street and runs under the a parked Dodge.  Two birds light on the sidewalk, wings fluttering.  I have ear-buds playing the local public radio station snug in my ears and Scott Simon is interviewing someone who has been attempting to determine that he is related to everyone on the planet.  I'm feeling a yearning to hear a twang from what my nieces call the Lou; I don't feel related to anyone here, don't feel the warm course of anyone's blood racing through my veins.  I feel alone.  And in my moments of feeling most alone, some tender memories flow around me.

The same year that we bought the wooden puzzle, I took my son trick-or-treating with the family of the woman who provided his daycare that year.  I had just moved into the Holmes house, unwittingly purchasing a home that had belonged to another family from God's Children Daycare, the place where Patrick received care while I tried to start my law practice.  1993; Patrick had turned two in July.  All of our boxes had been unpacked and our mourning doves, Larry and Lady Bird, had nested in their cage on the front screen porch.

I dressed Patrick in his Batman pajamas which he insisted could serve as a costume.  He slid his little feet into his black cowboy boots and clutched the handle of the plastic pumpkin in which he would collect candy.  We drove to Diane's house, not too far south, and parked at her curb.  She opened the door and gestured for Patrick and me to come into the house, where she had mugs of hot chocolate and thick slices of bread with peanut butter and jam.  Her own children crowded around the table.  Patrick hung back, with his stuffed Goodnight Moon bunny in one hand and the pumpkin's handle in the other.  Though he played every day with these children, he seemed suddenly shy of them.  I did not push him.

Diane's husband came into the kitchen from a back room in their house and handed Diane and me flashlights.  I shoved mine into my jacket pocket.  I wore a light blue windbreaker that had been the only coat besides a friend's inherited mink that I had been able to wear during my pregnancy.  The jacket now hung down to my knees and provided cavernous pockets, a wide collar to warm my neck, and, with its color, visibility.  It seemed the perfect jacket for walking the streets of south Brookside in the chill of Halloween.

Diane carried a large silver bowl to the front stoop and set it on the step.  She filled it with candy bars and taped a sign to the front which said, TAKE ONE.  As we walked away from the house, with a soft wind rustling the fallen leaves, I looked back at the bowl and thought, what are the odds that each ghost or goblin will only take one? Diane noticed my glance but did not speak.  Diane had more faith in the honesty of trick-or-treaters than I.  But then, Diane did not live very close to the streets of the East Side with its teenagers who had started knocking at my door before I got Patrick ready; who kicked my screen when I told them I did not have candy to give because I had not planned to be home.  We walked away and rang the bell of the first house just as a little ballerina and her hobo brother reached down to extract one candy bar each from Diane's silver bowl.

The children lasted two or three blocks but got enough in their pumpkins to thrill their little souls.  We strolled back to Diane's house in time to see a five-foot tall witch with a couple of midget Ninja Turtles take the last two candy bars and replace the bowl on the porch.  Diane looked at me and raised her eyebrows as I buckled Patrick into his car seat for the trip home.  I smiled.  Her husband guided their children towards the house and bed while Diane hugged me and told me to try to have a good rest of my night.  She stood on the sidewalk in front of their house watching me drive away.  I could not understand the set of her shoulders and would not, until I heard, a month or so later, that she and her husband had separated.

But on that night, that Halloween night, Diane and her husband, their two children, my son, and I, formed a movable tableau of Americana.  Patrick fell asleep with his bunny tucked in the crook of one arm and a black spider from the dollar store clutched in his hand.  I adjusted his cover.  I retrieved a few toys from his floor:  the giraffe puzzle we had gotten a few weeks before at the RenFest; the cloth ball with a rattle inside leftover from his baby days; the stuffed polar bear that our first neighbors in this house had given him along with a copy of Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear.  I lit his nightlight and left the room.  I pulled down the shades, turned out the living room lights and went to bed, in the quiet of the Holmes house, the house in which I presently write, a house too quiet by more than just half.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.