The harbor is a deep greenish blue today, with frothed edges sparkling in the sun—it’s so beautiful I’d probably be driven to tears, except the circuit-board on my van is acting up. Everytime I turn the steering wheel the panel beside my left knee starts clicking a morse code message, and each set of clicks rapidly turns the backseat heater on and off. If I’m interpreting the code right, the message says “despair.” This is the part of winter that seems endless. I drive straight south, trying to avoid sudden shifts of the steering wheel, trying to will the damn clicking to stop.
The subtext of the code: What have I done to my family, spending money and time on graduate school? What have I done that I’ve taken my family’s car on this beautiful day, leaving them stranded. What have I done that I’m shopping for cars again—didn’t we just buy a car? A three thousand dollar car, which we hoped would last for three years, and it did, but the three years are up and the car is used up, and it’s time to buy the next car.
Thank God for this beautiful ocean on this dreary-hearted day. I pull into Barbara’s parking space, to the tune of the fog horn from the Coast Guard station. “It’s because the equipment reads moisture in parts-per-million of each square inch of air,” my red-bearded friend Michael told me long ago. “But the fog horn is blowing, and there is no fog!” I argued. “Do you read parts-per-million? I don’t think so. The equipment says there’s fog.” He smiled. We both shrugged at the absurdity. Parts-per-million, it is. The horn keeps me company, along with the sun and the gulls.
My few winter days at my borrowed writing studio have been a wrestling match with winter cold, but today the sun streams in—the thermostat reads seventy degrees! The wind howls but the heat builds. I may never leave. I may read all day. I forgot my cell phone. I love being lost to the world. I love being out of the damned broken car with its treacherous morse code messages. Soon I will need to find a phone and call home, but for now it’s seventy degrees and sunny in the top floor of the Rumplestilskin house on Rouse Road, overlooking the Atlantic. For now I am only thinking of the next hour of quiet and gathering material for the missed writing deadline, and this little pocket of time, unbroken and sweet.