Wednesday, May 31, 2023

What Remains

My life at present seems to be made up of memories--little scraps of paper, and disintegrating pieces of celluloid.  My present is like a distant past.  What remains are. . . well. . . . 

There is the morning coffee, reading and writing and wiling away the hour(s).  And there are practical things like preparing for the arrival of the maids which seems a hideous chore any more.  I strip the bed and get the bedding in the washer.  I walk through the rooms picking up books and remotes and cameras and projectors, etc., and putting them in their places.  I put away the things littering the kitchen countertop and take a look at the mail I haven't looked at all week.  And when the bedding is in the drier, I dress for the gym.  

The gym.  There lay my social life.  Tennessee is back looking worn with work and worry.  But the returning coeds on summer break seemed to give him a lift.  Little Porsche wants to be an athletic trainer, comes from a monied home, goes to a school for the elite.  Rosy cheeked and polite, she works out ferociously while checking the mirrors to see who is noticing.  A group of girls in short shorts and long t'shirts are catching up in the corner.  Tennessee smiles more.  One of the girls who used to manage the front counter is working out.  She looks and sounds like Scarlet Johansson with the butt of Nicki Minaj.  It is her birthday.  She has turned 26.  Tennessee is running circles.  I tell her she just aged out.  I try not to seem interested in these women, but Tennessee is at the filling station.  It's O.K.  They like him.  The mother of one of the girls in the gym speaks to me.  We have been recently introduced.  In her early fifties, I would guess, a stewardess who flies to the European capitals, she works out intensely battling the inevitable temporal insults we all endure.  She is nice, very friendly.  She tells me I'm funny, that women like that.  I laugh and don't say it doesn't seem to be helping so as to not to lead her to think I am fishing.  She asks me if I was ever married.  She says she would never get married again.  She likes her freedom, likes not having to report or answer, likes doing or not doing whatever she likes.  There is nothing more attractive than a woman with her own house, I say.  She smiles.  Yea. . . I'm funny.  

When I finish, I look at my messages.  The maids will still be at my house, I think.  I stop by my mother's.  We chat for a bit.  When I leave, I tell her this might be my one stop for the day.  When I get home, the maids are gone, the house sparkling.  I make a low-fat milk protein shake with half a banana and a scoop of peanut butter.  I read messages, respond.  I take a shower and think to head out for adventure.  But I am sleepy.  I lie down for a minute.  When I open my eyes, it is mid afternoon.  I think to get up, but I fall back to sleep.  When I open my eyes next, it is time to go to mother's.  But I am not going.  I can do whatever I want.  What do I want?  I think about going here and there, but then, "to what end?"  The afternoon is lovely.  I make a Campari and soda and light a cheroot.  The cat is waiting on the deck.  I sit and think about the wasted day, one among many.  What to do?  Why have I forgotten how to read?  I decide to look at my Kindle.  I read a few pages of a book I read long ago and liked very much, "The Rules of Civility."  I barely remember reading it.  
Champagne was being served off little round trays by young unemployed actors with flawless features and the grace of acrobats. . . somehow it had become acceptable, even stylish, to be drunk before eight.  

We shouted over the dinner tables and slipped away into empty rooms with each other’s spouses, carousing with all the enthusiasm and indiscretion of Greek gods. And in the morning, we woke at 6:30 on the dot, clearheaded and optimistic, ready to resume our places behind the stainless steel desks at the helm of the world.

Here were two single girls from the perfume counter at Macy’s, solidly in their thirties, a little sour with the knowledge that their best years were behind them, riding with eyebrows plucked all the way to the Bronx.

Her skin was flushed with an ignorant beauty that filled me with envy.

Eve was one of those surprising beauties from the American Midwest. Bred with just the right amount of fresh air, roughhousing, and ignorance, these primitive blondes set out from the cornfields looking like starlight with limbs.

We could tell already that this one was as expensive, as finely made and as clean as his coat. He had that certain confidence in his bearing, that democratic interest in his surroundings, and that understated presumption of friendliness that are only found in young men who have been raised in the company of money and manners.
I study the sentences, the descriptive passages, the modifiers and descriptors.  One line cuts deep. 
Suddenly, I could picture Tinker on the back of a horse somewhere: at the edge of the treeline under a towering sky . . . at his college roommate’s ranch, perhaps . . . where they hunted deer with antique rifles and with dogs that were better bred than I.

The long day rolls on.  It is time to make dinner.  I cut cherry tomatoes, chop avocado, beets, and garlic, and spread them over a spring salad.  A glass of wine.  The cat is still on the deck.  She has finally noticed some of the catnip and is rubbing herself in it.  Good.  This is why I got it.  It is supposed to help repel mosquitos and fleas.  I decide to plant more.  But I am getting bitten.  I spray insect repellent. . . reluctantly.  I sit with my silent phone.  No messages, no virtual dinner partners.  I decide not to send the photo I have taken. . . once again.  

Salad done, I start the brown jasmine rice and pour another glass of wine.  In a bit, I pour the left over Soppy Joe meat into a pan with a spicy lentil and bean mix, then over the rice I've dished into a deep bowl.  I despair at dirtying the sparkling kitchen.  Dinner over, I pile things to soak in the sink.  I pour a scotch, read more.  A package arrives. 

Soap.  Aleppo soap, 80% olive oil, 20% laurel oil.  Pure, ugly, clean. . . the best soap I have ever used.  This is my thrill for the day.  

It is eight.  I might go to bed at nine.  I go to the viewing room, turn on the television.  In a bit, I clean the kitchen, set up the coffee maker for the morning.  I check my computer before going to bed.  Nothing of import.  Texts from Red become rarer.  The pretty professor who is getting divorced texts from time to time but has yet to ask me out.  I am bereft of all declarations of love.  Tonight, anyway.

Both reluctantly and thankfully, I go to bed.  I run through a checklist in my head that I never get through before I fall asleep.  

The remains of the day.  I am gone.  

No comments:

Post a Comment