the life of richie

THE END OF JULY

Posted in is by Rich on July 31, 2011

The last in the Grace Kelly-Hitchcock series at the Arts Center is Dial M for Murder. Thirty minutes in, Caroline slides in next to me, just come from her latest doctor’s appointment, while the two men are plotting the wife’s murder: how it must be done and why. She has appointments all the time now (Caroline). After class and before yet another, she stops into the law office on Friday to see me, to have lunch, and to complain about how her body is not her own anymore. It has been rented out to a noisy tenant, like those surfer boys next door. She can’t wait for the end of the summer: for the eviction. “I fart all the time,” she limns. “I never used to fart before. I used to pride myself on my not-farting.

The boys next door hang out half-naked on the downstairs porch after spending all their days surfing, and all their nights drinking. A fussy old lady comes into the law office before Caroline, to bitch. “Has anyone else complained about them?” she wants to know. “They’ve been vomiting into my yard. My husband –– he’s just had surgery. I can’t sleep. I’ve called the rental agency, but they won’t call me back.” I tell the woman I will make a note that she has called. A few hours later, through the blinds I can see them emerge, all glistening flesh like the vampires in the Twilight movies…

On Friday night, after locking up the office (all of the lawyers are away: my mom and dad in Hudson visiting my sister; his partner off on a spa afternoon with a state judge), I take my mom’s convertible over the bridge to Somers Point to attend a gallery reception. I think of Anne: in June, I drove to New Haven, and then with her up to Boston for a wedding. (With the top down, the whole world is yours, to be played with and tossed aside.) At the gallery, the porch is overflowing with mismatched characters from many of the stages of my life. I find Joni and Gerri on the patio. “I’m just going inside a moment,” I explain. The gallery itself is a furnace, all the artwork thrown into this kiln to be melted down (one might think), to meld together into some new life risen like a savior’s bread when the buzzer sounds; devoured by dogs. Some friends of mine (of my parents) are welcome distractions from the temperature, but after talking a few minutes, I escape back outside, where there is a coy yet sometimes willing breeze.

The reading of four poets commences. I stare at my friend Gerri standing on the porch, her gray hair pulled back into calculated serenity, and smile. Afterwards, we go to Joni’s condo that overlooks the water, where there are boats. We drink wine and talk about literature and college. The next day, I think of this year at school, and recommend to myself a new course. This year will be a vengeance, I have decided. I will strap myself to the college, but. When I go this time, I am gone, and I will not (will never) come back again. (I want them to hear this. I want them to know this and to be ashamed.)

For when the heat breaks, there is usually a terrific thunder. This is how it shall come to pass.

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MOSAIC

Posted in is by Rich on July 23, 2011

Caroline and I catch To Catch a Thief on Monday at the Arts Center. “My grandmother used to say, ‘Grace Kelly is someone who doesn’t sweat,'” Caroline says. We are not yet sweating ourselves (…though we will be by Thursday). On Tuesday, we meet Karen for lunch at Mosaic. Karen is taking a pottery class. She comes to lunch speckled in the day’s clay. Her teacher says: “The clay doesn’t care about you. But you must control the clay and not allow the clay to control you.” We eat jerk chicken and rice & peas and sweet plantains and cool, unsweetened iced tea. These are the last cool days ever. On Wednesday, as Karen and I drive to the Union game in her Jeep Wrangler, with all the windows open, we can sense that It is coming. The heat doesn’t care about you. We stand in the parking lot drinking Anchor Steam and Summerfest beers, long after the official start of the match against Everton, and leave the stadium not too long after the half. There is still no score when we leave, but later we find out that the Union has won (the Union have won). On Friday, after work, dad and I drive down to Avalon to pick up his pants from the haberdashery there. The heat index is 115-120°. We are in the oven now, thrown into the kiln (the kiln doesn’t care about you) being cooked, and who knows what we will look like when this is all over. “Sea Isle is a strange town,” my father says as we drive down through the shore towns; I am wont to agree with him. Norway is struck by a bombing and mass shooting; we listen on the radio as Obama announces that the debt talks have broken down. “How can anyone support the Republican party?” my dad says. My Libertarian friends on Facebook rile me up again. (I find Libertarians insufferable: I’m sorry but I do.) By Saturday I have had enough of It all: of the heat, of the news, of Libertarians, of the tourists, of my car as the air conditioning compressor breaks again. I want to just leave my hot car in the middle of the street and walk away.

I want to just walk away from it all.

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