You wake at seven, I wake at ten. I find you on the couch with a dog in your lap—a cold cup of coffee sits on the end table. On the television, an old John Wayne western, maybe Chisum, plays on the screen. You’re only half watching because we have seen the movie many times before, but you are relaxed, working on replenishing yourself from another week working in a career you never intended. Your life ambition hovering just beyond your reach, wondering if you will snatch it out of the air today and consume it like a perfectly grilled ribeye steak. But after consideration, you decide you have too many obligations to take that chance. Your father wins again. His unilateral decision to change your trade school course study without your knowledge defines your work life. Unsatisfied.
We sit for a while, talking about the week behind and the weeks ahead. But it’s a beautiful day, too nice to waste inside. We hop in the car and drive, no destination in mind. We know we will not go east or south, always north or west. Today it is north, away from the crowds, meandering on familiar back roads sheltered from the direct sunlight. The shadows stripe the pavement, and then dirt. We find ourselves in a brown haze, enough to flip the windshield wiper on for a quick brush of the glass before we emerge on the blacktop path again. Civilization lies ahead beyond the winding river containing small whitecaps, confirming the storm of yesterday.
A white farmhouse-turned-restaurant waits for us to choose to stop and linger for a while. The aroma of fresh baked bread invites us onto the porch and then in through the door. The wooden floor is sloped to the south side of the house, worn from boots and heels alike. Our soft-soled sneakers easily glide on the grease-stained boards as they make their way to a table covered in red and white checkered cloth.
And then, I wake.