As years go, 2014 was better than it feels to write about its passing. Things were done and said I don’t remember that were important, and that weren’t. Some may remember the unimportant things, and forget the important ones. Who can know? I’m sure you are in the same boat.
Above is the last dishwasher detergent sachet (a far more artful word than “pack”, which sounds like a borax mule) from a package I must have bought over a year ago. I manage one dishwasher-load a week, so this box of sixty must be over a year old. I’ll admit it’s a strange nostalgia to have–the passing of one’s dishwasher detergent supply–but these little orange gems earned it. Their orangey-lemony-janitorial scent wafted through the house, providing a daylong smell of clean-not-chemical. Touching them was an exercise in kindergarten fascination: sticky-gooey like a jellyfish, but firm like fresh bread. Don’t hold too long! All the engineering effort to make each package with its perfect seams of orange and yellow goo, tense against the transparent membrane. Did this stuff work any better than the box of boring white powder? For my child mind, the point was each load of dishes had a single quantum of exactly right clean. This was Fifites space-age magic, a product designed by Ray Bradbury to thrill and delight and prepare us for Mars, smelling like golden apples of the sun.
Shawna came into my life. She is my golden apple from the sun. We are going up together.
In the fall, I went back to work. Just three months, just for surprise bills, just to assure myself that everything was all right. If nothing else, I told my adolescent imagined audience, it will prove what my real work is. Leaves reassured me by taking on brilliant colors.
You and I and everything we know went around the sun. We traveled time together, sixty seconds every minute.
I had phone calls with my oldest friend. We talk about daily marvels and mundanities. The world is different from a year ago, free of panic and the walls closing in, the sense of failure and pointlessness. The world did not change at all, of course, its living and breathing stuff, all its processes and procession going on with imperceptible certainty, mortals like us no more substantial to it than a cloud’s shadow. But still the world was different. I kept plodding on the book, a little every day, and every day it became a little clearer. Plodding is okay because that’s how anything gets done. He rolled with big changes at work and a new sense of being here now, moving ahead, his music reinvigorated.
Each time we talked at his lunchtime, I hid in a meeting room or walked outside the building where my job was gradually succumbing to not penciling out as a going concern, having these talks, looking at ducks in a pond or the Moon high in the afternoon. Everything was different, even more different than when we looked up at the Moon in college, separated by barely an hour’s drive. But it is the same Moon. Evenings, once a week or so, the house smelled of dishes future-clean.
There were flowers.