He was surprised how quickly his mind flooded with thoughts of his father. It was almost like they had been waiting in the wings for some stage time and now, at last, they might get the chance to say their lines. He pulled four moleskin journals from his bag and made his way to the writing desk. A good friend had said Write down what you hear while you’re there. Be very intentional about it, or it will be stolen away. His decision was to use each of the journals to record words/thoughts/images related to what he considered his losses over the lasts five years: dad, work, marriage, prayer.
A quick pull and the lamp illuminated the desktop, complete with a beer stein turned penholder. He grabbed a pen and quickly tried to rewrite the thoughts he’d already had this morning concerning his father. It seemed right to begin his entry with the Harrison quote rather concluding with it. Each of us must live with a full measure of loneliness...
Beep. Beep. Beep. The coffee pot was now ready to share its bounty, willingly. The two mugs on the small tree hung in perfect balance. There had been a season of trying green tea, but after his best efforts, his evaluation was that green tea was just weak, green water.
We’ll give you a day to acclimate. Lil Gillian’s words surfaced as he stirred brown sugar into the mug. Previous trips had taught him that the first twenty-four hours were always needed just to leave the world behind. After about a day, your body settled into a different rhythm, but not until then. Trying to rush that process had always been, in his experience, an exercise in futility. Maybe Lil had known that and had extended a grace to him during the drive from the airstrip; he hadn’t said more than two sentences to her.
Between sips of coffee, he wondered what is the best way to acclimate myself to this place? He then framed the question this way: how can I be a good steward of the day I’ve been given? Those thoughts made him laugh. Who talks like that? The reflection in the window showed a forty-five year old in boxer-shorts and cowboy boots. It humbled him and he realized the truest question was what do I want to do today? And from that moment, until at least 9am, he determined to do absolutely nothing.
The morning of doing absolutely nothing turned into a day of the same. The Adirondack chairs coupled with the slight breeze off the water proved to be quite conducive to lengthy naps. The sound of squirrels in pursuit of each other along the stone wall stirred him awake. His watch read two o'clock. Two o’clock? He could not remember the last time he’d taken a three-hour nap. Maybe that was why he needed one.
He had called Kristin on his arrival to reassure her was safe. She was to be involved in an all-day school event the next day, so she said settle in and call me day after tomorrow. By the way, did she smell of buttermilk?
Well, not exactly; I’ll tell you about it later.
Alright. We love you. The kids’ll want to talk next time. Bye.
The voice on the answering machine was Steve Gillian’s. He must have missed the phone ringing, somehow. Come over about four o’clock for Lil’s stuffed mushrooms. Follow the path down by the shore. It looks like it’s going nowhere, but that’s by design. We’ll plan to eat about six. Be comfortable.
Godalmighty, why couldn't it have been a mustached-milkmaid that picked me up at the airstrip? Really, why? This time away was supposed to be focused, but the fresh memory of cinnamon scented Lil Gillian threw everything inside him helter skelter. He remembered reading about the desert father who claimed to have never struggled with lust while he lived with women in plain view, but the moment he moved to the desert his mind was constantly occupied with lustful thoughts. He tried to envision the emaciated desert father clearly offering his wisdom from that experience, but the desert father ended up looking like Audrey Hepburn holding a tray of stuffed mushrooms.