I live my life a quarter mile at a time
Vin Diesel’s immortal Dom uttered these words in the original The Fast and The Furious. But, having established my slowness last week, I’m not fast, and rarely am I furious. I’m more the type to live my life a quarter at a time. So here we are today, nearly a third of the way through the second quarter of 2016.
My tendency to look at life in sizeable three-month chunks might be a throwback to my old accounting days. Or a three-month window just might be the most my brain can handle at any given time.
On the night that would turn into April 1, I had been in the front bedroom (it’s set up as a guest room, and it’s also where I write.) I lay down to catch a quick nap before retiring to our proper bedroom for the evening. I woke up, like a shot, at the stroke of midnight. It struck me as preternaturally odd—that I would wake up so suddenly at the dawn of not just a new day, but a new month, and a new quarter.
Maybe it was my body’s way of telling me to stay awake, or at least stay alert, because a lot is going to happen this quarter.
Probably foremost, there’s this writing thing. I’m trying to have The Incident Under the Overpass ready for publication by June. The rubber is meeting the road. Will this thing I’ve poured so much into have any traction?
To continue the driving metaphor—here’s something about my temperamental car. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to the factory-installed satellite radio. Six years on, I still gladly pay the usurious quarterly fee to maintain my fix of Alt Nation, ’70s on 7, The Bridge, et al.
On April 2, I was still in this wondrous mindset of “stay alert, lots is about to happen.” It was a clear and pristine Saturday after massive amounts of rain, and I was out and about, running errands. The radio landed on ‘80s on 8, and “Breakout” was playing.
Swing Out Sister released this song in 1987—the year I graduated high school. The year I moved away from New Orleans. The lyrics go: “You’ve got to find a way / Say want you want to say / Breakout”
Listening to it, I got a little misty. Maybe it was part nostalgia, but maybe part of it was me really hoping my breakout will happen this quarter. Have I “found a break to make at last?”
The writing may take up a lot of my internal sphere, but there’s quite a bit going on outside of it, too. I have a lot of upcoming travel for my sad Picard job. Making it feel not quite so sad, and maybe even downright adventurous. Tallying my work travel, April through June, I think it comes to ten flights, and about three weeks away from home.
And finally, we’re getting ready to hold an estate sale. (Or, “moving sale.”) My siblings and I are trying to get our parents’ house ready to put on the market. Mom and Dad built that house in 1961, and my family has lived in it ever since. There’s a lot of history there.
But that’s the thing. It’s history. It’s very much a part of the story of who I am, who each of my siblings are. And several cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends who have passed through those doors and stayed awhile. But it’s no longer a part of who we will be.
In looking for a picture of the house to include with this post, I found many pictures of our beloved cat, Quat, (God rest his little furry soul) in various states of recline throughout the house. I finally settled on this one because it felt the most telling—there’s the van in the background—it had over 200,000 miles on it before all was said and done. And the carport before my parents converted it into a garage. And my thirteen-year-old self. . .let’s just say I’m okay with letting her go.
That damn satellite radio. Maybe about a week after Mom died, I was headed to pick up brother Jerry. We had our first meeting with the lawyer we had chosen to handle the estate and the establishment of Stephen’s trust.
In the car, I heard Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band.” “The leader of the band is tired, and his eyes are growing old / But his blood runs through my instrument, and his song is in my soul.” At the time, Mom’s death was so recent, and I was still so raw, there was no stopping the tears.
But more than fifteen months later, the lyrics still hold weight. I carry my parents’ legacy within me. Their “song is in my soul”—that house is just real estate now. It’s time to let it go.
(And for the record, and just to work in another reference to The Fast and the Furious franchise—music is the surest way to evoke an emotional reaction in me. I sobbed uncontrollably at the last scene of Furious 7. Hell, just play the opening notes of Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” [featuring Charlie Puth] and you’ll reduce me to tears.)