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"A week later, perhaps more, some fresh bright shiny will attract my attention
and I'll find myself facing forward again."

I'm not looking to watch angels dancing on the head of any pin, but I was wondering when the end began and when it might end. Mid-afternoon, my niece's husband, our contractor for the remodel, packed up and left me to prune out the apricot tree and trumpet vine, all alone in the emptier driveway. Earlier my step son helped me disassemble the jury-rigged paint shed, my home away from home for much of the effort, and haul it away to the dump. I packed the Blue Box with the surviving brushes and other supplies, stacked the keeper paint cans together, took off my smocky painting shirt, now smeared with a fresh palette of color, removed my spattered painting shoes, and closed that garage door one final time.

Dearest old friends had invited me to supper, so I timed my washing up so I wouldn't arrive late. Downtown roared with activity. I had to park two whole blocks from the restaurant. Wine bars overflowed patrons out onto the sidewalks. Music, or the rougher equivalent of it, echoed down Main Street with competing tunes. Sidewalk tables filled. It seemed like the old days again, when every Friday night was shopping night as Dam Workers with fresh paychecks filled the streets of this small city, and families sauntered through Wards, Sears, Newberries, and J. C. Penney's, fingering dry goods with buttered popcorn-slick fingers.
Those days ended a long time ago.

I wondered as I found myself slipping into the Friday Night Main Street Saunter if this supper represented a new beginning or a final coda. The conversation straddled the past while swerving to avoid even the near future. If we felt well-positioned to speak of the past, we might have already colonized our future. The past's not so much gone as side-stepped from its former prominence, still present but not nearly so influential. Out here on the pointy end of the stick, neither the past nor the future really exists. It's now all the way through, with no reverse thrusters or afterburners allowing any of us to revisit or hurry up. Supper eventually ended with differing perspectives about whether or not we needed containers for leftovers to carry part of the repast into a nearer future.

Early this morning, I tossed the two pairs of work jeans I'd brought for the work this trip. Both were worn to dereliction, paint streaked, rear pockets trashed from quick drawing the Five-In-One tool, one belt loop pathetically hanging. I also tossed a tee shirt which had lost its pocket seam, rendering it incapable of holding my glasses. I've discarded shoes, too, at the end of projects in the past, as if those shoes, by too close association with the transformation, had lost the privilege of walking into any forthcoming future. Gloves, too, have just had to go, their fingers worn through, seams splitting. I always retain my smocky painting shirts as if they had become souvenir tee shirts celebrating the effort. I seem to need to abandon some of my kit to find closure.

I have not, however, left town yet. I have a short list of uncompleted tasks: wash sheets and remake my sister's generously extended guest bed, wash my brother's gratefully borrowed old GrandAm, find some asparagus to cart back "home" to The Muse, say my goodbyes without knowing when they might turn into hellos again. Just before noon, I'll board that twin prop Alaska flight to hop over the Cascades. I'll be back in Denver by suppertime tonight. Perhaps somewhere between here and there I'll stumble over the finish line, maybe without even noticing. When I deplane in Denver, I will still reek of the by then recent past and I expect I'll need a few days to feel as though I'm fully inhabiting the here and now again. Until then, between reconciling with Rose The Skittish Spinster Cat, who will chastise me for leaving her, I expect to find myself somewhere between done and finished. A week later, perhaps more, some fresh bright shiny will attract my attention and I'll find myself facing forward again.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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