It’s All Evanescent

“No! Don’t open that Michelle!” I leap quickly to the curb and push Bella’s back passenger door closed.

“I want to see Bear.”

“I know, but that’s not a good way for her to come out. She’s fastened in there.”

“Never do that, ‘chelle. Don’t mess with other people’s animals,” says Michelle’s and Connor’s mom. Michelle puts her head down, ashamed.

“It’s OK. I’ll get Bear.” I go to the back of Bella, open the door. Michelle is right beside me. “Remember when she ran away that day?” The little girl wearing the rainbow tutu, tights and boots nods. “I fasten her in now.” I loop Bear’s leash around my wrist. “OK, open that carabiner.” Michelle does. 8 year olds like to show their competence at stuff. Bear jumps down. “Can I walk her?”

“Uh, OK.” Mom is standing by and knows how this works. Michelle takes the middle of Bear’s leash and I have it by the loop. I’m walking Bear. Michelle is holding on. Bear lunges toward a patch of untouched snow (talk about evanescence!) “Whoa!” says Michelle, laughing. “Bear’s STRONG!”

“She weighs more than you and more than half of what I do. She’s a powerful beastie. Let go, Michelle. Bear wants to roll around. She LOVES snow more than anything.”

Their mom takes out her phone and photographs all of us, Connor, Michelle, Bear rolling in the snow, and me holding Bear’s leash. I imagine that photo in some dim someday.

Christmas. Elizabeth invites me for dinner with her and her husband. She prepares lamb. We have a lot of fun talking and then Bob tells me he has the seat from Eddie Rickenbacker’s plane. He tells me the back story. I’m amazed. I love those early flyers. He goes down to the basement and brings it up for me to see. I sit in it. I sit in Eddie Rickenbacker’s seat. Here, in Monte Vista, Colorado. Bob tells me how the Smithsonian didn’t want it and shows me the letter. “They have another seat.” Bob shrugs.

Eddie Rickenbacker’s Airplane Seat

Then Bob brings up a couple of photo albums from the early 20th century. There are pictures of Europe. I correctly identify the locations as Italy. Milan. There’s General Pershing. In another couple of photos is the Alamo.

“I have no idea who these people are,” says Bob. “My brother got them from the dump in Durango.”

I carry some dishes out to the kitchen. There’s Elizabeth in the winter sunlight washing dishes. I take a photo with my phone. In the foreground is the mince pie I made. The steam vents in the top are cut exactly the way my grandmother taught me.

An “ordinary” moment.

At the Rio Grande County Museum I spy an old gas stove from the 30s. I had one just like it in a house I rented in Denver. It was great. I comment on it to Louise who runs the museum. She tells me the story of the stove. Then I notice what she’s done. She’s set up a 1930’s kitchen, table with embroidered tablecloth and china, ice-box, cupboard, kids’ play table with a kids tea set beside the grown up table. It’s so pretty. Next to it, behind a temporary partition, a screen, she’s set up a teacher’s desk, slate, old text books. “Oh, a school house!” Louise beams.

“You want my grandfather’s history book? He was born in 1870. I have his math book, too.” She says yes.

The boots in the featured photo were my favorite shoes for nearly a decade. We covered miles and miles together in Montana, Colorado, Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, Switzerland. They were with me on a journey that turned out — decades later — to have been one of the most important in my life, a journey to Zion, Lake Powell (ick), Kayenta, Monument Valley, Arches. My friend (plaid shirt) and I had no idea at the time that we were on a journey of a lifetime that would define and seal an emotional bond that has lasted for more than 20 years.

You can see my boots in this photo. They had blue laces for a little while.

After being resoled three or four times, there wasn’t enough leather left on my boots for another resoling job. I left them behind in Zürich and got new boots for my birthday, splendid boots. I was sad, though, and my friend Pietro handed me “la macchina” (camera) so I could take a picture. Pietro died of lymphoma the next year.

My daily reminder of the evanescence of things is my morning coffee. I’ve finished, Teddy is cleaning my cup.

22 thoughts on “It’s All Evanescent

  1. I agree – it is all evanescent. Which is why perhaps we yearn to write such rich, detailed stories such as yours. To hold on for a little while longer. The photographs. The books. The boots! The “ordinary moments” are what counts in the end. That’s my thought. I enjoyed reading this post 🙂

    • Thank you. I’ve learned over the course of my life that the “ordinary moments” are the most extraordinary. Unscripted, unsought, filled with life. Sometimes we don’t know their significance until years later. ❤

      • You’re welcome. It’s in the looking back, isn’t it, when we fully realize that. I understand that desire of my grandparents to “tell stories” of their lives. I was fascinated even then to hear them. I wish I’d asked more questions, but glad I wrote down what I did remember. And now I’m that grandparent – crazy.

        • My cousin’s son recently contacted me for stories about my Aunt Martha. He wants to write a play liberally based on her. I was very happy to tell him what I could, but in the telling I realized I knew more about her as a PERSON than about the things she did in her life. I’ve been wondering since then if she ever told me. I don’t think so. I then thought about some of my oldest friendships. It seems they are based more on who we ARE than what we DO. What we do is a result of who we ARE I guess. I don’t think I was very helpful to him.

          • A play based on (or including) who she was would very likely be the more interesting script. Maybe someday your cousin’s son may realize that. My oldest friendships are like what you describe – now that I think about it. Who we are, in most cases, leading to what we do. I am always fascinated to read the obits. The ones that describe who the person was – their personal qualities and what they meant to others – are the ones that stand out to me. And then the obits that list next to nothing make me sad. Of course, it could be the expense of the actual obit, but still….

            • Yes – who she was. might have been what he was looking for. I don’t know. 🙂 One of my oldest friends — on the surface — has nothing in common with me. Some of my newer friends are bewildered, but part of what connects us is the years and experiences we’ve shared. Part of it is how the friendship started. A lot of it is our mutual knowledge that there are just not many people we are likely to meet with whom we’ll have a bond like that. ❤

        • I didn’t see anything wrong with your grammar. Relax, Tracy. I’m not judging anyone’s anything any more. I don’t have to turn in grades to anyone ever again. Thank god. My posts are so full of errors when I publish them — I don’t see that in the morning. It’s only later when I’m more awake that I see I left out words or edited imperfectly. Sometimes it’s days later.

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