Now I assume—and I may be wrong about this, but I’m just guessing—that talking about your home renovations too much is a lot like telling a broad audience about your dreams.
(By coincidence, I have also been having very strange dreams lately; it’s slightly cooler out so I’m sleeping better, and thus sleeping deeper, and thus staying longer in those worlds, giving them ample time to spool and unspool into unmapped territory.)
So I will hold myself back from talking too much about all the work we need to get done on our house, mostly in the next month or so. It would be a lie to say that such things do not weigh on my mind—all the pieces we’ve picked out, just waiting; all the deliveries still to come—but I am a dignified person who can read a room, and so I will only ask you to imagine how much fun it will be for our household to be relegated to using my small bathroom out in the studio for the duration of the work, and how confused poor Paul will be that we let strange men trample into our home and literally pull down pieces of the walls.
A more worthy topic: I heard the sad news this week that an old teacher and more recent colleague of mine, Kevin McIlvoy, passed away quite suddenly. He was playing tennis when it happened, which makes me glad for him and feels appropriate: he who was so concerned with the interplay between the linguistic and the somatic, with the inextricable link between the literary life of the mind and the body in which that mind finds a home—which is peculiar, prone to foibles, unique in its perceptions.
Mc was unique. He taught one of my favorite graduate seminars as a visiting professor and was unfailingly kind, quietly persuasive, forever encouraging the ground to shake beneath you so that you might see and re-see. His writing was thoughtful, playful, gorgeous, temperamental; not like the work of anyone else. Mc would always take in the problem student, would always find the heart of the matter. He wasn’t a saint, he was a human being, but he showed how good it could be to be human, just by doing it.
I will miss him very much, and there is a wide community that feels the same.
Meanwhile, in the phenomenal world around me, it smells of fall even when the days reach eighty-five. (Which in itself is a victory!) My little squash-and-melon patch is doing beautifully, and the rest of the garden is coming in. One of my planters is full of thriving fall flowers, mostly zinnias, but some wild cards too. The yard still needs to be cleaned post-monsoon: it’s jungle-y, and Paul keeps coming inside with burrs and seeds all over his legs. I love the way fall smells and feels: it is a folding inward, a shutting down, but it is also rife with possibility. Fall does not feel like death so much as the promise of rebirth, or of an afterlife. I can’t really think of a season that feels dead to me. Certainly not this.
And, it is my older sister’s birthday. That means that last year at this time, she and I were in Mexico, jumping through the large waves on the beach, sleeping in one big bed we shared for the first time in so many years I can’t remember the true amount. It also means that she was born. She is here, and she is one of my favorite people. Happy birthday Steph, I love you.