I sit down on the couch with my favorite drink in my hand, but all my thoughts keep flying. What a long day. One of those three-day-long days.
The rain on the roof and the steady drip drip plunk of the water falling into the bucket in the corner reminds me that I still have to call the roof guy. Or maybe the drain guy. Still not sure which is the problem. It is so hard to remember the leaky roof on a sunny day.
Phil died yesterday. Hadn’t seen him for years. I still remember his wedding fondly. He and Margarita were a surprisingly beautiful couple. You’d think, wrongly, that the contrast between them would be too shocking—he with his tawny hair which drew out the dark blue of his sleepy eyes and she with a latina fire always burning deep in her brown eyes. Eyes are always so startling. Windows into the soul, or something like that. We kept in touch for a while after that, but then just drifted apart. I’ve often wondered why we never stayed in touch. Weddings and funerals. I suppose that’s how life is.
drip. drip. plunk. Why do I never think to fix that roof on a sunny day?
They lost their only son eight years ago Friday. I met the kid once. Phil, Margarita and I met at the beach, and little Jimmy was with them. He might have been five years old. Cute kid with his mama’s face and fire and his daddy’s tranquil blue eyes. He was all they talked about for our five hours at the beach. No time for art or sports or old friends. And they wondered why I never settled down to have kids of my own. Still, the kid was cute. While we talked, he was very serious about building little sand castles on the wrong side of the high tide line. He sobbed and howled when the waves swept away the whole structure he worked so lovingly to build. A house built on sand. Or I guess it’d be a castle. Not a very good foundation. Margarita sobbed and howled and tried to kill herself twice when he passed. Phil was stone faced at the funeral, but the shock broke something inside him. He was never quite the same. His whole life kinda just crumbled like Jimmy’s sandcastles. A life built on sand, perhaps.
drip. plunk. plunk. drip. drip. plunk. I need to patch that roof on the next sunny day.
What a long day it’s been. Bumped into Margarita as she was coming out of church. Was that just this morning? My sister goes to that church. She has been trying to get me to join her there for a while. She thinks it will give me the keys to the kingdom or save my soul or something. Like that needs saving now. I don’t think she realizes how busy my life is. The priest is just as bad. I met him at a bar about a year ago. I never asked what brought him there. To his credit, he never specifically asks me to pray, but every time I see him on the street, I feel a little bit guilty. Not sure what for. He always greets me by name and wishes me a good day. Bumped into him at lunch today, and like clockwork, he stopped me by name and asked me how I was in a way that made me think he really cared. I wonder if he sensed something different. I mentioned Phil and Margarita to him. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, like everyone else does. “If you ever want to talk about it, the church doors are always open.” Not sure what he thinks church doors can do.
drip. drip. plunk. plunk. I should empty that bucket in the corner.
I almost stopped in on the way home from work. I stood outside for what felt like an eternity. It had certainly been a hard day, and I could really have used some divine strength right then. But I had no idea what to do in a church, so I just stood outside like a fool. I pretended that I was looking at the architecture. The church was mainly marble with a granite foundation. It stood among a group of sandstone and brownstone tenements. The contrast was almost comical. It was weird to think that this old-fashioned structure was here long before the rest of the block was developed and would probably stand here long after the sandstone crumbled in the city’s acid rain. What a strong foundation. Bet that roof doesn’t leak either.
The church was huge and impressive. Gothic, I think, or maybe Romanic. Or is it Romanesque? It’s been a while since my sophomore Art History survey. Either way the effect was powerful, and I almost went in, despite my ignorance about what to do inside. A few pious pigeons stared down at me from Jesus’s head in the archway, wondering what I was doing there.
drip. drip. drip. I wonder how hard it would be to fix the roof on a rainy day.
But as I stood there, I began to wonder why I was even thinking about it. I was still on my horse. No light had blinded me yet. True, Phil was dead, Jimmy is dead, Margarita and my sister and the priest will all die and so will I, but I’m not dying yet. I don’t need to think about that yet. I won’t need anything for a long while yet. That wave is still far off, and I’ve got time. Plus, it had been such a long day, and I needed a drink. So I walked home, poured myself a Scotch, and here I am. Phil’s funeral’s Friday. At the church, I think. Friday’s a busy day, too. I might not have the time to go.
plunk. plunk. plunk. Then again, maybe it will be sunny Friday, and I’ll actually remember to fix the roof.
Photo by Heather Zabriskie.