Sunday, September 16, 2007

anticipation and realization

The first day of open windows, I love it. Outside it is cool and mild. The sky is blue. It is cuddling with white clouds. Suddenly the brownness of the grass, the premature yellowing of the leaves, the days of drought; these things don't matter. We revel in the glory of fall's tease, "I am coming. I am almost there." Oh, autumn, won't you stay with me forever? All night long it rained and in the morning the gray clouds continued to assert themselves, weeping at their reunion with the earth. The rain here is more a soft sort of tearing than an out and out bawl. Here the sky broods darkly for days before expressing itself in condensation. On the other hand, a Florida storm can barrel in and out again like a flash of anger. The thankful trees are satisfied directly by the pounding rain. After ward the sun breaks out with a bold blaze saying, "you can thank me for this."

During a whispering rain in Kentucky, a magic mist rises from the hills, escaping through the trees; it crawls surreptitiously over highway 25 on which I make my daily commute from Berea to Mt. Vernon.

I am becoming increasingly imbedded at work. I have an office, with Larry; a table pressed against the back of his desk, a chair. We brought in our own coffee pot and mugs. Maintenance installed my phone. I even have my own extension, "for Amy Nee, press 6." The office phone directory is recorded, as of today, in my voice. "You have such a gentle tone," the coordinator said after asking me to spell my last name, "would you mind doing the recording." I thought it a funny request but shruggingly acquiesced.

"I'm almost famous," I whispered to Larry as I left the room.

"Almost?" he exclaimed, "You're a superstar kiddo!"

When ebay asked him for the name of his pet as a security question he said, "Amy!" More often than not though he refers to me as his "fifth child," between he and Martha they've four. He was on ebay looking into bidding on a '65 Volkswagon Beatle, beautifully restored. The scanned photos said '03.

"Those pictures are four years old," I said, "no telling what's happened in four years."

"Shut up!" he said, palming my head as he left our office to have a cigarette. We share an office and listen to Irish music off of his iPod, or internet radio. My dad and I used to do that when we shared an office. My dad loved to experiment and find new music. He read the news online and would start reading out loud when he came across something interesting. Larry does that too. I stop whatever I'm doing to listen.

Recently, we visited a former participant. She graduated about a month ago and is living in a trailer, in town, with her husband. They are trying to get custody of their year old son. Their place was tiny and seemed strewn in a plot of similarly situated trailers, surrounded by overgrown grass, brown from the draught. A dumpster sat out front. "I'm worried about the roaches, and mice," she said when pointing it out. Inside though, the place was neat as a pin.

"Sorry for the mess," she had said, but there wasn't one. It was neat to have her ask us to sit down, to hear her offer, "Do ya'll want some water, or a pop?" We declined but it was good to have her ask. She's upset that social services seems to be dragging their feet about her regaining custody. Larry reminded her it was going to take more than a month to convince people that a ten-year addict with a legal history a mile long was going to be a good mother.

"You know as well as I do gaining trust takes time. You blew it, now you'll have to build it back up." It's true. Not everyone welcomes the recovered addict with open arms and applause. The prodigal son's not just a story in the bible, but it's not a prevalent part of the common human experience either.

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