Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Phantom Home

Nerve endings curl so that amputees often "feel" sensations from ex-limbs. Tonight, as dusk fell on the condo, I felt the need to rise and turn on the outside lights. A few minutes later, a sprinkler hissed and I listened closely for gurgles or other signs that the rain bird needed replacing. Adjustments are occurring.

Yesterday afternoon, my gardener waited in his truck for me to return from errands so that he could say good-bye. Twice a week for eleven years, Mr. Kim managed my big wild yard: reseeding the lawn, loping back sumac, growing ice plants, as well as replacing busted sprinkler valves out of his own pocket. Every Christmas, I left him an envelope with a little cash bonus. In return, he'd leave me potted palms and orchids, in addition to traditional poinsettias. When we met, I was still unmarried and he was not yet a grandfather. Over the years we talked about insects that killed Monterey Pines, the joys and sorrows of his children, and the uncertain nature of my line of work. He had designed a hot-looking bonsai garden that faced the street and still got compliments from passers-by.

And so we stood in my driveway in the warm sun and wished each other the best. We had shaken hands when we had first met. Now we shook hands again in parting. (His were like sand paper.) Grey hair sticking out from under his baseball cap, Mr. Kim shuffled back to his Ford pick-up, bed bristling with lawn mowers and leaf blowers, and drove off around the curve.

As Dorothy said to the Scarecrow, "I think I'll miss you most of all."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do not believe you live "below the hills."

I believe you are still in the hills. Just different ones.

That is all.

--YFW

John P. McCann said...

A view from the balcony would only prove my contention handily.

Anonymous said...

I was looking out over the balcony when I said it.

But just as in the old place we were looking up at the San Gabriels, here we are looking up at the Verdugos.

It's all relative.

--YFW

John P. McCann said...

There were hills everywhere.

Here there's just a big one with bigger ones behind.

And no bobcats.

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