Bright sun, clear sky, but still cool. The sap is flowing strong in trees-of-heaven, and though I understand – as I ride beneath them on Lincoln street – why some people call them “stink-palms,” it isn't an unpleasant smell to me, though it is a dangerous one, an invitation to nostalgia and grief. It's the smell of the fullness of summer, and I've never belonged in summer. I'm a creature of winter, of shifting, indirect light, of fog and rain, of the clarity of long-running rivulets. In the direct sunlight I am a swollen, awkward, blundering creature.
I carry four things in the left front pocket of my jeans. The fob that magically opens the doors and enables the elevators of my office building; the small key to my bicycle lock; a wooden skull, a bit smaller than an ordinary marble, carved for me as a good-luck piece by Clint in massage school; and a red-orange beach agate, like a little sun. I've lost the pale blue-green, almost turquoise, sea-glass I used to carry in that same pocket. Time goes on and things get lost.
Nothing magical in my right front pocket. Keys and change. Wallet in my right back pocket. That's it. Martha finds it comical that when I put on a clean pair of jeans I methodically put everything from the pockets of the old pair into the pockets of the new pair. I'm not sure why. How do other people keep track of their stuff? You have to do it somehow.
The enormous relief of the fifth of July. It's like the day after Christmas: a year before I have to do this again! My two least favorite days of the year, days on which failure is guaranteed, when the fact that I am not what was wanted or expected is made clear and put on public display. I don't struggle against it. Two days of misery per year, that's not much, in a generally happy life. It's like the county taxes. You just pay it.
Summer begins now, in western Oregon, summer for real. I'll survive it. I have the four things in my pocket, and I have friends, even if they're far away.