Clinging

One of the only good things about Scout going deaf is that he can’t hear me sneak out when I’ve had enough. Like tonight: For two days he’s been buzzing around the periphery, hugging the walls inside the house, counting off the perimeter of the lawn on the out, panting his ass off, no matter how much water he drinks, and looking particularly glassy-eyed and sharp-snouted. So I left, and drove the twenty minutes to Love Lane on a back road, with my Reggie and my reading glasses and my mind on a glass of wine.

By the time I pulled into Mattituck, it was still light, but the moon, nearly full (and huge), was taking up the sky, being quietly beautiful and bright. There was no one around—just me and the moon and the streetlight down a ways, shining against the dusk. This is my favorite time, the way everything light gets bright, and you can feel the edge of the night brushing up against you.

It was dark after a glass of wine, and I glided back up that country road wanting to go twenty in a fifty-mile-an-hour zone, the warm wind, the warm night, the warm wine, the lightening silently, pinkly flashing behind the clouds—even that yodelling clown Chris Isaak didn’t ruin it, the soft drive home.

Scoutie and I went out for a long walk down to the water after, and his feet slipped through a grate right outside of a restaurant with a plaque outside saying it was the oldest single-family owned restaurant in the country. Inside was an overall hefty older woman with a tattoo where sailors like to put their anchors. Poor Kooks. He doesn’t even register pain, just rights himself and keeps buzzing, his tongue dripping spit and his eyes like mirrors.

Anyway, the thing I meant to say was that I realized something about renunciation while I was driving: This world with its moons hanging heavy like pears, and it’s silken nights, and it’s fruit-flavored sedatives, it’s not what we need to give up. All that stays—we can keep it. Kooks stays and the fat, tattooed woman stays and you stay and even I stay, for now. I could feel it, though, what was extra, on that happy ride home.

I'm Not in Kansas Anymore (Or Am I?)

So I took a drive to Mattituck today, still on North Fork of Long Island, but more vineyard than harbor. There’s a restaurant there called Love Lane Kitchen, where high-school-aged kids in black t-shirts serve crazy-good food. (“What can I get you?” the blond waitress with the teeth so just off braces that you can still see the braces there, asked. “Um, I think I’ll have the mango and avocado salad,” you say, a little unsure because it’s 9:30 in the morning and you’d really like the stuffed french toast. “Oh my God!” she says, as if she’s just been asked out on a date by Dom*, but is probably just being nice because she sees your dilemma, “That looks so good!”)

When I left, and was walking to my car, not one but three old men said good morning to me. None of them were using walkers or driving in motorized wheelchairs, but pretty much all of them were hunched over and walking like they had glass stuck in the bottom of their feet, and like the beachballs under their shirts were pushing on their belt buckles and making them have to pee.

It was nice of them to say good morning, and I liked it, but, because it was me, I still had to start imagining that if we actually had a conversation, I’d discover they were all three horrible, arrogant, Republican windbags. I tried to change the channel on my mind, and imagine them as brilliant artists—men who would entertain me over good Italian espresso by making delicate origami animals, but I couldn’t get the windbaggery out of my mind. (“I’m burning, I’m burning!”)

Just about then a woman walked by me in her Spandex clothes and her fanny pack—she was older than you, but not much older than me, and so she was a little bit chunky—and she said “Hi!” as if she’d just taken the same drug I had, and knew it. O.K., so people out here are charming.

It reminds me of when Maud and I had just moved to Nova Scotia from Brooklyn, and the waitress at the local Greek diner came over and was asking how we were, in a characteristically super-friendly Haligonian way. (In Halifax, talking about the weather is a really, really nice thing to do.) Maud, who was maybe not quite fifteen, said, “What’s wrong with her?” Exactly. I got her out of New York just in time.

Probably a day or two later, we were invited over to a friend of a friend’s house, and all the dharma-brat girls around Maud’s age were invited over too. (Halifax, in case you don’t know, has a very big American-ex-pat Buddhist community.) The next thing I knew, she was getting in a car with five teenagers with experience in altered states through meditation, all waving and smiling, and I barely saw her again for the next three years.** I’m pretty sure she was out asking people how they were all over the place.

*Hi Maud!
**That’s a total lie. A lot of Amy’s pizzas (plain), and a large variety of cereals, were consumed in our house.