Wild Rabbits–Jacqueline Kolosov-Wenthe

 

Wild Rabbits

On the cusp of June, baby rabbits skitter in and out of the garden’s delphiniums blue as the Virgin’s robes. The rabbits are fleet but not fleet enough to escape my terrier whose collar I hold when one of the rabbits hurries past, jumping up the jagged flagstone porch before disappearing into a hole beneath the small house.

If your mind is empty, a Zen proverb says, it is always ready for anything, open to anything. Emptiness is the luxuriant potential within the porcelain cup on the windowsill, the cup my grandmother carried with her from Europe after the war. Though I have drunk tea from this cup, I’d rather gaze into its whiteness. Only when it is empty does it suggest possibility, the unknown.

We humans are left-brained creatures. The left brain fills spaces, holes, voids; it fills them with word and thought. Whereas the right brain is silent, spacious, undulant as the New Mexico sky buffeted by the ancient mountains the Spaniards crossed and named, the left brain is always interpreting, counseling, and chattering. It is quick to remind that language requires a speaker and a listener, communication, yes, but a joining that comes with the separation of I and you.    

This evening, three hundred miles from home, I sit on the flagstone porch, my terrier beside me. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains’ colors, in this light, at this hour, resemble the blue delphiniums, though in the time it would take to cook a pot of rice, the mountains will have purpled, the sky behind them incarnadining to a pink I have seen only in roses at that crepuscular hour before dark. My terrier and I have come back from a four mile run. I stretch my muscles on the mat; she sits beside me, her hazel eyes watchful, attentive. She seems to expect nothing more than the sound of the wind and the arrival of the day’s last birds. It is only when a baby rabbit pops up in the tall grass that her ears prick, and I reach for her collar.

The right brain is at peace with the emptiness I hear in the wind tonight, the wind coursing through this parched land where the forest fire signal is “high.” This country is known as the Land of Enchantment, but enchantment comes at a high price. Real estate prices are high, and most of the cars here are imports, SUVs. Bears rummage through the garbage bins, their own wildness increasingly encroached upon. (And don’t get me started on the deer.) Downtown, in the Plaza, Indians hawk their wares in a courtyard, spreading silver and turquoise jewelry and other handmade objects on rough-hewn blankets. “You buy?” one woman asked me earlier when I stopped before silver droplets like tears. “No,” I said smiling, “but thank you.”

Consider again the baby rabbits skittering in and out of the blue delphiniums, the baby rabbits jumping up the jagged flagstones and then disappearing into a hole beneath the house.

We could ally the left brain with reason and the right with energy, what the Chinese call Chi. When the Chi is flowing freely, one arrives at a feeling of unity, wholeness. How does one arrive at this wholeness? By following the energy—by trusting in it—moment to moment.

Energy is not matter. One should not try to contain it—think atomic bombs, oil spills, the vertigo of cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix. Energy is not matter, though we recognize it in the fleetness of the rabbits and in the openness of my own body tonight. Breathing in, I close my eyes, imagine the breath loosening the tight places between my shoulders, that knot at the base of my spine.

Well before darkness enfolds the mountains, the rabbits will have found shelter for the night, but for now I can see one amid the irises, already past their purple bloom. The rabbit’s ears twitch in the wind, and although the rabbit is not looking at me or my dog, this creature small enough to fit in the palm of my mind is conscious of our presence. Were the terrier or I to move, the rabbit would bolt from the flowers.

Energetic will requires that one focus her energy by visualizing the end result before she begins. However, this is not the same thing as being invested in an outcome.

When I was seven years old, the neighbor’s calico cat killed a wild rabbit, orphaning her babies. My father found the nest while working in the garden. By the time he reached it, all the baby rabbits but one had died. “Look at what I have here,” he said, uncapping his palms so that I could see the tiny creature, all eyes and ears and pounding heart. “Do you think we can care for it?” “Yes,” I told him. “Oh, yes.” All summer, we fed the rabbit with an eyedropper, proceeded to a tiny bottle. We kept the rabbit in a hutch near the roses, and near summer’s end, once it was big enough, my father told me that we had to let it go. I could not argue against keeping this twitching, fleet being in a box, and so despite my tears, I was the one to unlatch the door. For months afterwards, even years, I became convinced that a particular rabbit that appeared in the garden was the very rabbit we had saved.  And when the calico cat killed a rabbit in our yard, I likewise believed that she had killed our rabbit.

If your mind is empty, a Zen proverb says, it is always ready for anything, open to anything.

The rabbit’s death happened more than three decades ago. And I am still learning how to be at peace with the emptiness I hear in the wind moving through the branches of the trees and in the fleetness of the rabbits that, once gone, leave no trace that they were ever here.
 

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The Uprooting of the Bierock–Matthew Gavin Frank

When we prick the dough of our bierocks like this, we imagine the fork as a shovel, and we are digging for precious things like gold, like water.  We find beef and we find sauerkraut, and, in these, we try for something else—for escape, for all the way to China, for anything to remind us of anything other than our exile from Russia, from Germany, from Poland, to Kansas.  Our exile: another cow ground down to crumbs, another cabbage chiffonade allowed to ferment until hay-blonde, until the soft, unwashed hair of the daughters we were never destined to birth in Middle America.

*

Instead, my imaginary son Arlo asks about the intersection between algorithms and the weather.  Why Kansas has an earthquake index of 0.05 compared to the country’s average of 1.81.  A tornado index of 252.53 compared to the average 136.45.  A volcano index of 0.00.  I want to tell him to take comfort in the fact that the earth’s stuffing will never attack us.  We have no chance of being lit gloriously by upwardly spat fireballs.  He asks—and this is so cute—if it’s better to be wiped out by the earth’s hair dryer than its acid reflux.  I tell him, mussing his own hair, that there’s medicine for heartburn.  That to keep our hair wet just a little longer, all we need to do is unplug the machine from the wall.  Though I’m not sure exactly what we’re talking about, the meteorologist on TV talks about the high winds ripping off roofs in Topeka and, though I’m not sure what we’re talking about, my heart stutters when Arlo says, taking his first bite of bierock, this is lava hot.

*

The bierock, according to The Lawrence Journal’s Tom King, is like “the empanada, the calzone, the Hot Pocket,” is “almost always beef,” is almost always yellow onion and sauerkraut “wrapped in a bun of sweet leavened dough,” is “golden” is “palm-sized,” is portable, should be cradled in the hands or kept warm in one’s inside jacket pocket, where it can continue to steam, commune with its cousin, the pierogi, can dream of a life as other-than-dumpling, as other than a tight knot of sustenance that, in spite of its ability to keep its heat, “freezes,” according to Tom King, “great.”

*

I want to tell Arlo that lava can’t freeze, though I don’t know if this is true.  He asks me that, should our house flood again, if a bierock can be used as a raft, if he can float his paper cowboy dolls from carpet to prairie on the back of this sour, golden horse, which, it must be said, is far too big to fit into his palm.

*

Kansas is a stressor, a bird of prey.  It says, I flew once, but I’ve been pounded into my own ground by the bison.  It says, when I used to be singular, when I used to be the name of a semi-nomadic tribe called The People of the Wind, I was Kansa.  Now, I am plural, many.  What else can I do, but flood my banks?

*

We’re all wind here.  So many Winds.  When we get wet, we are the agent of our own drying-out.

*

To cool our bierocks, all we have to do is open our mouths, and blow.

*

Now, the land agitates its own river, and the river floods Manhattan and Wamego and Topeka and Lawrence.  Lecompton loses five of its six churches, barely recalls a time when it was known as Bald Eagle, Kansas.

*

Here, our crust is a shell, the intermediary between our mouths, and hot things that wish to burn them.

*

On the benches of Lecompton’s Riverview Park, overlooking the limestone bluffs of the Kaw Valley Basin, twelve picnickers today eat their bierocks, the sauerkraut waving like viscera in the wind after which the state was named.  Here, the wind can be the sort of predatory equation it takes a golden dough to solve.  The dough as levee, as saving us from releasing the sweet air in our lungs.

*

We can forget to cool things with our breath.  Forget about the panic inherent in each required inhale.  Here, two bald eagles scream as they couple over the river.  Their voices sound nothing like Kaw.

*

Nearly 100 years before the Great Flood of 1951, during which Harry Truman flew over Kansas in the airplane he privately nicknamed The Bald Eagle, staring down at the 1,074,000 flooded acres, his voice wavering as he spoke into the CB, “…one of the worst disasters this country has ever suffered from water…” the water of the Kansas, ran red, as the anti-slavery Free-Staters and pro-slavery Border Ruffians fought a proxy war along its banks, Northerners and Southerners immigrating to the territory in order to duke it out for their side.  Pistols and canes and rocks and broadswords later, men blinded by, and drowning in, the fluid that, just moments earlier was held inside them by levees of skin, the territory became known as Bleeding Kansas.

*

“Nostalgia,” says Tom King, “is a sublime seasoning.”

*

In Kansas, when we fall to the earth dying, we fall to seed and to root.  We stain with our bodies the stuff that once sustained us, bleed-out into the agriculture.  In this way, we become the blanket, the blemish, the outermost layer of the earth.  We tell ourselves, as we blink out, that we are keeping some essential filling at bay.  We imagine we are brushed with a little melted butter, that we are cooking at a breezy 350-375°.  Until we are bitten, we are exactly this golden.

*

The introduction of the bierock to Bleeding Kansas by Volga German-Russian-Polish-Mennonite immigrants coincided in 1861 with the end of the proxy war and the admission of the territory to the Union as a free state.  That this is an innocuous coincidence is obvious.   Less so: the early dough was flavored with the same red wheat seeds and peony roots that once collected so much of our blood.

*

The River Volga, Europe’s longest, is home to some of the world’s largest reservoirs.  The name Volga refers both to moisture (literally, wetness), and veins, blood vessels, a mythical juice.  As such, in Russian folklore, the river is both a waterway, and an animal.

*

Arlo tells me about his dream.  That addition became confused with subtraction.  That a drought, like a flood, is an addition to a landscape.  Just look at all that new brown—all that wheat and sorghum, all those sunflowers sloughing to dust, taken into the wind, adding gaps to the rows, the illusion of stars exiled to our state, whirling now, about twenty feet over our roofs, and rising.

*

Here, when the river breaches its banks, it sounds like slurred speech, a mispronunciation of the healthy flow.  I’m not sure what sort of medicine can solve this, but watch how the dough sponges the juice of the cabbage.  Watch how the heat, if not the lava, allows the wet to forget itself.

*

In a mispronounced incantation, is a false healing.

*

The Volga Delta, deep into Russia, supports anomaly.  Though the river is frozen for at least a quarter of each year, the Delta supports a thriving community of flamingoes and lotus flowers and the same red wheat seeds that once covered Bleeding Kansas, grew over our bodies.

*

Toward the Nebraska border, folks pronounce “bierock,” brook.  In this way, we allow our heaviest of foods a communion with the most benign of our waterways.  On the border, our mouths full, it is our babbling that we believe will protect us.

 

We give back.  In April 2012, the Volga basin flooded, forcing the villages of Saratov, Tambov, and Volgograd to declare states of emergency, to evacuate.  The waters devastated much of Tatarstan and the Republic of Mordovia.  One Moscow official, unnamed, perhaps mistranslated, said that urban planners have set about “building a golden shell” against such future disasters.

*

We eat our bierocks in Reading, close to the river named by the French explorers for the nearby marsh, and for our Trumpeter Swans, the river famous for its flash flooding, floods so powerful, we give them names like Big Water.  Before we officially settled on the French name, we called this river Old Aunt Mary.  We called every person she killed—over 100 in 1844, 86 in 1909, 60 in 1915, 39 in 1928, 35 in 1944, 28 in 1951, and 0 in 2007—Old Aunt Mary, too.

*

Eagles hunt swans, but swans fight back.

*

Arlo asks: How can so much water take so much away?  He tells me that in school, he leaned that the human body is mostly water.   He asks me if we’re always flooding on the inside.

*

I answer him.  I say, Nesho, Spring, Shoal, Cottonwood.  Verdigris, I say.  I say, Caney, Chikaskia.  I say Whitewater and Cow and Rattlesnake and Walnut.  I say, just to make him feel better, Little Walnut.

*

From our bierocks, we bake the water, if not the names of our rivers.  As Kansans, we want the cabbage to put up a fight.  We like, as Tom King likes, “some snap, not mush.”  We can always wet it down afterwards with a little spicy mustard.  In this way, we allow the dough to hold back mostly solid things, things whose forward movement we can stop with our bodies—our hands and mouths.

*

On special occasions, Arlo paints his bierock dough with red food coloring, and I try not to tell him about Bleeding Kansas.  Instead, as if recalling a better, if fictional, inheritance of statehood, he taps two finished bierocks together three times and, even while muttering There’s no place like home, looks disappointed in the kitchen, if not the entire spread of land beyond it.

*

We’re almost a perfect rectangle, Arlo says, and I imagine all of the twine-y things meandering through this almost perfect shell of a state.  I bite the upper right corner of the bierock.  All sorts of mutilated things pour out onto the napkin.

*

The rivers will split in two and flow around us.  Arlo calls us the barrette to the braid.

*

So: Logic dictates that I muss his hair after the bath, watch the water run from it to the towel on which a nondescript bird—certainly not an eagle or swan—reaches in vain for the beautiful fringe at the border.

*

For supper, we eat bierocks.  Two for Arlo, four for me.  Arlo: milk.  Me: dark ale.  Last winter, we pre-made 120 of them.  You should have seen all the yeast.  Arlo told me it felt like the entire kitchen was rising.

*

Along with the warm water, butter, flour, milk and salt, we add more than a pinch of sugar to the dough to recall the roots of the peonies.

*

We eat our bierocks and think of Paeon, the physician to the Greek gods, so deft with his healing practices that his tutor, Asclepius, god of medicine, became jealous and hatched a plan to eviscerate Paeon in his sleep with his snake-entwined staff.  Zeus caught wind of this and, in order to save Paeon from this bloody fate, turned the young healer into a flower, or, every peony.  We eat our bierocks and imagine that, with each bite, we are getting better.

*

Here, better does not necessarily mean, drier.  Our confusion is appropriate, I think.  Here, there are flamingoes in Russia.

*

Other names for the peony, depending on, among other things, the arrangement of the petals: Athena, Scarlet O’Hara, Madame Butterfly, Semi-Double Anemone, Paula Fay, Buckeye Belle, Bomb-Double Raspberry Sundae, Paul M. Wild, Shame Chamber, Lair of the Mischievous Nymphs, Ant Attractor, Dough Flower, Flower of Wet Riches, Flower of Dry Honor.

*

Drought, flood, drought, flood.  Which Athena and which the ant?  If the bierock is not a middle ground, it is nothing.

*

Middle ground is not necessarily higher ground.  We stuff our inheritances into dough in order to protect them.  When we bite through the shell, we’d like to imagine that, in the cascade of ground beef and yellow onion and sauerkraut, we are releasing some kind of flower into the world.

*

If this filling is a flower, it is another sort of anomaly, another pink bird with ice in its wings, wondering how the hell it woke up in Kansas.

*

I whisper now to Arlo.  I think I may be singing: Big Blue, Little Blue, Stranger, Mission.  When I say Buffalo, and Prairie Dog, and Beaver, and Wolf, he thinks I’m speaking of animals and not rivers.  When I say, Marais des Cygnes, he has no idea that I’m mispronouncing it.

Jill Talbot–Get Going and Stay Gone

I want to tell the story of a different woman.

Maybe if I figure out why I’ve been writing the same woman for too long, I can.

Sometimes I think I was missing Kenny before I met him. He was always ready to get going, stay gone.  It’s as if my natural state is missing, and he came along and said, “Yes.” Always that space between us. Our first kiss a fissure. The Eagle River and the moon an erosion. The back porch all those nights a split-trail to distance. When I slept beside him, I’d stumble down a jagged trail, a canyon. I settled into where he unsettled me.

 Give me distance, and I’ll give you an essay.  Here:

A wooden staircase leads up to a closed door, to what used to be the Wormy Dog Saloon.  Peanut shells on the floor, saddles for barstools. That kind of place. A fuchsia teddy teases the antlers of a moose head on one wall, and balls roll and clack on two worn pool tables.  In the back, a yellowed Budweiser sign keeps bar time.  Rainy afternoon, and maybe because we’re in Oklahoma somebody plays Three Dog Night’s “Never Been To Spain.”  I’m the girl in a red tank top, denim shorts, flip flops.  I haven’t met Kenny yet.  This is 1996, when I’m in graduate school, and every chance I get, I’m dropping the 4 ball into the side pocket, smoking Marlboro Lights, and sharing a pitcher of Bud Dry with anyone who can break. A couple of guys in Carhartts shuffle around the next table. I lean toward and long for their just-worked-all-day-with-my-hands scruff. I’m half in love with any man who wears a tool belt.

I met Kenny three years later.  He wore Carhartts, shrugged a tool belt in the morning, and worked so much with his hands the callus on his right hand scratched my skin. He was always ready to get going and stay gone. And after all these years, I’m beginning to think what drew me to Kenny was that he was a cavern. Because when what you are is words, choosing a man who can build a bookshelf but has no use for one guarantees you’ll end up alone.

I’ve written this bar a few times before, climbed those same wooden steps. Do I simply write what I miss? In this version, I think I’ve figured out that the moment I swooned at strangers in coveralls was when I knew:  It’s being far away from where (who?) I should be, which is where I go when I write.  Or to put it this way: All my essays have peanut shells on the floor. Some man I don’t know. Three Dog Night on the jukebox and another round.  It’s all one long, lonesome afternoon.

I’ve been trying for ten years to end this essay.  Here are some possibilities:

§

Kenny once told me about the moment he knew we wouldn’t last. We were in bed and he said he wanted to make me happy. I tried to explain why I never wanted to be. Because I don’t want to lose my capacity for longing, for missing, for wondering what might be, for yearning for what has come and gone before I had the chance to save it.  I want a window to stare out of or a dark bar where I can buy my dissatisfaction another drink.

§

I used to lean into the hard curves on Chardonnay Road to write, but the dull oak of apple-pears slammed me into walls, and I’d reel on the page like a runaway hubcap.

This one seems more like a beginning than an ending.

§

When Kenny abandoned us in 2002, I don’t know where he went. It’s as if got on a road to somewhere and never stopped. Not even Google could find him. And then, in 2007, a woman from Child Support Services called to tell me he was living in California. For the first time, there was a way to measure the distance. But a month or two after that, he left.   Still ready to get going, stay gone. Thinking about him feels the way it does when a car with a spare tire passes me on the road—somewhere—something ruptured—and still that stranger insists on getting to a place, or a person, that has nothing whatsoever to do with me.

§

Maybe all I’ve ever written is the woman I’m afraid I’ve been.  The one I will goddamn-guarantee be again.

§

I asked my friend, Charles, the one who says I write fiction, the one who says I “manipulate persona,” why he thought I began to write (and wine) so much during those months Kenny worked construction in other states.  His answer: “Because he was so distant.”  So why, I wonder, when Kenny was home for a week or two, did I stay up hours after he had gone to bed, insist he not join me at the bar some nights, or ride my bike home from the café instead of letting him drive us home?

I like the way this one ends in a question.

§

I worry that being with me is like waking up with someone who’s been dreaming about someone else all night.

§

Our daughter, Indie, now old enough to know the story of her father, of our love, of his leaving.  When I tell her, I balance the weight of our undoing between both of us, admit that some of the rumblings were my own.  “Like an earthquake?”  Yes.  And then she said this:  “Earthquakes start beneath the surface and they go down, but when they come up, they come back to the same place.”  Oh, yes. I ask her to tell me again what she said so I can write it down. She knows I write her father, the man she says is just like every other person she doesn’t know in the world.

 §

I first read Maggie Nelson’s Bluets on the summer shore of the Grasse River in northern New York. When I read,  “Above all, I want to stop missing you,” the ledge where I had been standing for ten years gave way, and I stared off into the farthest bend of the river to hide my sobs.  Our daughter, Indie, splashing in the distance.

§

A bar in Fort Collins, Colorado, 2000:  I’m the one in a gray tank top and khaki shorts sitting next to the man who built me a bookshelf, the man I’m afraid I’ll write for the rest of my life, the one who complains when I turn to talk to the man on the other side of me.

Maybe one of these should come back to those wooden steps of the beginning, something about the way writing opens all the closed doors of what used to be.

§

Every essay I write is about missing Kenny. Even if he’s not mentioned, he’s there.

§

You see?  If I don’t have distance, I construct a new map. Move. (I’ve moved seven times, to seven states, in the past ten years.) I’ll assemble my own country, build a border.  “Even when you’re here,” Kenny would tell me, “you’re not here.”

§

“If the reader prefers,” Hemingway writes in the preface to A Moveable Feast, “this book may be regarded as fiction.”  This essay, too.  My omissions—what’s missing—their own essay, another story.

§

If I got into my car now and drove the seven hundred and sixty three miles non-stop to those wooden steps, the distance I would cover would be as staggering as the one between the woman I am and the woman I write.

§

Because I wanted Indie to love words, Kenny and I read aloud from books while I was pregnant.  The first one was A Moveable Feast. We shared the couch and took turns reading, talked about the sadness of every chapter’s end.  I think we were already missing each other.

I’m thinking Didion: “It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.” 

§

Who knows how we end up in the rooms we do, saying things to people we’ll never see again in a year or two?  And what might we say, or not say, if we knew it might lessen the missing?  I think I write somewhere between what I said and what I didn’t.

§

A few days ago, I read a story and got caught by the way one sentence answered the question of the sentence before it:   “Missing people are the most spontaneous ones I know. Construction workers. . . .”  I don’t remember what happened in the rest of the story.  For me, that was the story.

I don’t think anyone ever reads the same story, the same essay.  We make each one our own.

§

How can I possibly wish to experience again the hour he told me he was leaving?  How can I long for the way I howled through every room of the house while he sat in the chair in the living room?  How can I not remember where Indie, only four months old, was while I gasped and grasped the kitchen counter against the ground swell? Will I ever stop writing around and around and around the way I went to the bathroom mirror to make sure it was real, it was me?

§

I don’t drink as much as my essays say I do. The woman I write insists on at least three glasses of Chardonnay, sometimes a second bottle. But I still don’t drink when I write.  Sometimes I revise. Write sober. Revise tipsy. Sorry, Hemingway.

§

I have a memoir with the word “miss” in it twenty-six times.  “Chardonnay” comes in at twenty-five.

§

I’ve driven Indie past the fuchsia-teddy bar in Oklahoma, but I can only point to what used to be. So much, I think, has gone missing.

§

I don’t think it’s ever been about missing him at all.

I write because I used to be someone I miss.

So, go.

Please.

Let me write another woman.

Maybe this isn’t an ending at all, just another way to begin the same essay.

You’re a Wonder–William Bradley

Hippolyta created Wonder Woman out of clay, though I’m not sure why.  Artistic expression?  Boredom?  Did she often sculpt babies?  Were there earlier, imperfect sculptures, made as Hippolyta learned her craft, not granted life by the goddess Aphrodite?  I imagine there were.  This woman, this queen, beloved by her sister-subjects on Paradise Island, but so painfully alone.  So she sculpted a little clay brood to delight her in a utopia where life could be enjoyed but never created.

I’m lonely myself.  If we can’t live in the same place, my dear—and at the moment, we can’t full-time—I think I’d like to sculpt you, then ask Aphrodite to do me a solid, allow me to create you and breathe life into you, perhaps with a kiss.  Although that sounds more fairy tale than comic book.  But she’s the goddess of love—maybe she’d go for that.

I’d bring you to life, then regard you with a smile and a, “Hey.”  And you’d reply, “I’ve missed you,” and you’d put your arms around me.

But what would you say next?  You have the wisdom of Athena, so I imagine it might be something like, “Shakespearean scholars think about Shakespeare as but one of a cluster of playwrights in the period. Knowing this — and thinking about the broader question of ‘Who were all of these men who wrote the plays?’ — means that Shakespearean scholars are looking for a different set of information and operating with different assumptions about the fundamental concepts in the issue.”

But then again, maybe not.  You’re an intellectual, true, but you’re also a woman of passion.  It’s unlikely that you’d mark our reunion with scholarly discourse.  You’d be more excited to see me, I think.

“Fuck me with your huge cock.”

Tempting, but no.  In the 11 years we’ve been together, you’ve never issued such a greeting.  I’m confusing you with pornography.

“Shall we open a bottle of wine?”

That suggestion raises some problems too.  You are, after all, made of clay, and clay dries out quickly even without the dehydrating effect of alcohol.  Hippolyta and her daughter never had this problem, but as we drink I notice you begin to look a bit ashen.  I spray you with one of the water bottles we use on the cats when they fight; this helps for a little while, but the reality that we do not have much time begins to sink in.  You are turning white and beginning to crumble; so, for that matter, am I.  It’s unavoidable—the reality that underlies this ridiculous fantasy. We’re human, and crusty, dry decay is what awaits us.  You are not the only one here who came from—and will return to– dust.

In reality, neither of us can sculpt, let alone create life from clay.  All we can do, I guess, is write.  We can at least hope that my essays and your scholarship will give us some form of immortality.  But on days when we’re too hungover or uninspired to get any writing done, let’s resist the temptation to sit in front of the TV or spend the day focused on chores or stressing about all the money we don’t have.  Let’s enjoy this time we have together.  Let’s get out of here, away from wasteful, banal distractions, and have some adventures together.  If we can’t procure an invisible jet, we can take the Corolla, which just got an oil change and has new windshield wiper blades.