Sunday morning observations resulting in wondering thoughts with many parentheticals:
We woke up at eight and decided to begin the day with a walk. Angela and I took Sebastian and walked into the Loop for coffee and bagels at St. Louis Bread Company. It takes about fifteen minutes by foot to get there. We took the long way home to enjoy the eclectic architecture of University City. You will see a huge mansion followed by an old barn converted into a huge mansion, followed by a yellow adobe mansion with a pink turret for no real reason, followed by a much more modest ranch house. You have to imagine the time when these homes were built, some before and some after The World’s Fair, some in the fifties, some last year. Washington University was founded as a Unitarian Seminary in the mid to late eighteen hundreds by T.S. Eliot’s grandfather (also a fifteen minute walk), these were/are the homes of patrons and professors, artists and intellectuals: universalists. At the turn of the century St. Louis had the largest concentration of privately held wealth in the country, it was the new Paris (on the negative side, it invented the gated community). These homes reflect a grandeur and uniqueness that prioritizes culture and aesthetics; which in some ways cuts across class lines. In other words I can afford to live here in a very nice old home. True, I am in need of a roommate to keep this financial ship afloat, but still it’s doable. Richard made that possible.
Richard was my landlord when I first moved in. I was planning to live in Soulard, but at the last minute our house deal fell through and we found ourselves with a loaded truck and no place to land. R calls me at my office at Meramec Community College (I was already working in St. Louis and sleeping on my sister’s couch) to tell me our application has been rejected. The girl at the leasing office asks her where to send the deposit that we had put down, “I have no address thanks to you and this last minute bullshit, there is nowhere to send it, Karl will come and get it later today.” The next day I meet Richard, who has a small cardboard sign out in his window. He’s actually already rented the place to someone else, but he likes me more, likes that I’m a professor. Richard owned Hirschfeld’s antiques, first in Gaslight Square before the tornadoes, and then in The Central West End. He had an oxygen machine in the kitchen with a long hose that followed him around. He had been an opera singer before family obligation forced him into the family business – a transition which lead to the cigarettes that eventually took his lungs and his life – though in his late eighties. R and I went to his funeral. I always regret not spending more time with him. I watched a Cardinal’s game with him in the hospital right before he passed. We’d make him a plate when we had a cookout, we’d get him a cantaloupe and a case of coke or some Ted Drew’s Custard when we went to the store. We’re having a BBQ later today which will devolve into an Oscar party, this reminds me of Richard under blankets with the remote (he’d call when the vcr would fuck up his reception, “Karl, if you get a chance, I know you’re busy, but when you get in, if you could stop by as I can’t get the TV to work again”.
I spent my last ten dollars today on charcoal, carrots, and onion soup mix. I get paid tomorrow and of course Erin’s check will be here any day, right? The solution to all problems can in fact be “have a party”. Well, think about it, parties bring diverse people together in positive ways that result in synergy, a whole that is more than the some of its parts. The weather is gorgeous and deserves the thanks of a celebration in its’ honor. I did spring-cleaning yesterday – all day – this house hasn’t been this clean perhaps ever (I even did the baseboards with Endust). Deby has gifted me with a new vacuum that can actually de-weave the dog hair from the rugs. My room is clean – the house has had a post Erin enema, an energetic and actual washout. On that tip it doesn’t look like James’ is going to be able to get out of his lease (Erica just called on the cell to see if I have skewers for shish kabob – I provide the fire, some side dishes (my hobo stew and Angela’s cornbread casserole) and the expertise – you bring what you want to cook and drink) so I am again on the roommate hunt.
Still thinking about Richard - when Richard passed away a corporation bought the house, I would have bought it if I’d had a couple hundred thousand – it went for 270 I think. I get along with Daphnie, my contact at said enterprise, and all the maintenance guys. It’s fine, they’re happy to have it rented. There are a lot of places for rent in this area, keeping good tenants is what it’s all about for them. Richard is buried close by, I’ve been to his grave a few times. We went to the funeral. His son recited Emerson and Blake. The phone is now ringing more frequently, Mary and Beth have called to give their ETA. Vanessa is picking up Angela and bringing her dog Stoltz to play with Sebastian (who is currently sleeping off his very long walk – he was happy but dragging when we got home).
We really do have tribes don’t we (thoughts about R here – the end of that relationship was in part the tribe’s decision – BJ, Jason, Vicky, Erica, Beth, Jonathan, Anna; they all advised its’ demise, but that kind of advice is as much reflection – mirroring what’s going on in your own heart and mind – I remember R crying after a phone conversation with Jason, “I’ve alienated another one of your friends”. They all tried with her, god knows I did – just didn’t fit. BJ’s last night in town before he moved to KC to get a Masters in Law, R was sick and performed this agony intended to make me not go out to see him off (“go out” we went to stake and shake for a meal). All who saw this performance were embarrassed by it, as it was clearly an act performed for my benefit – I was furious to be subjected to such childish bullshit. She later dramatically claimed it was the sickest she’d ever been in her life (during the breakup negotiation). Even if she was not feeling well, and I’m sure she wasn’t, the sickest we are in our lives often involves hospitals, doctors, medications and the other accoutrements of illness. This episode required none of those, just an audience. Wow, that’s an old wound. Ah well, I do miss her and wish her well.
Anyway, I have this book called Earth Medicine by Kenneth Meadows that overlays the Native American Medicine Wheel onto a more familiar astrology – in this system my totem animal is a deer and I am a member of the butterfly clan – my “life-path” is co-ordination, I bring things and people together. I think that’s true of me, and it’s why I always seem to have a family of friends. Deer tend to bound ahead and encounter tribulations that are blessings in disguise, meant to slow them down and give them pause to reflect and be grateful. I am so grateful in this life for all the people who have offered me their friendship and love – thank you so much for the honor of your good wishes and the wisdom of your reproach. And on that note, I must go, as my local tribe is coming over to roast animals over a flaming mass of coal hewn from the earth for this right of spring.
You’re right Jen, the weekend ones can get a little long winded.