Doing taxes. As you might imagine, I am thrilled to support the proposed expansion of our fighting forces, along with the gutting of the arts and numerous programs that support the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. Oh, and the wall, of course, in both its literal and figurative manifestations. Sometimes I can’t help but imagine what we could accomplish if we weren’t so damn scared all the time. Now back to our usual programming:
Another drive, another hitchhiker, this one younger than the last, pear-shaped and out-of-breath, hands scrubbed so pink I couldn’t stop looking at them. He worked third shift at a mental health facility, but was on his way to a mid-day meeting. He’d worked the night before, grabbed an hour of sleep before sticking his thumb out, and was scheduled to work the night approaching. “It’s a good job,” he said. I understood then that the softness of his physique cloaked an inner strength, and I was glad I’d picked him up.
Later, in the almost-evening, I helped my younger son at the barn where he and his brother – on this day, at home sick – do chores twice weekly. The farmer had dehorned the heifers that afternoon, and the surrounding walls were streaked with blood, it ran down the animals’ faces in rivulets, dripped thickly onto the bedding below. The cows lapped grain off the concrete floor, 30 of them lapping and chewing in unison, a beautiful sound, almost meditative, and I knew I’d heard that sound before, not just in the barn, but somewhere else, too. Then, finally, I placed it: Rain on a tin roof. How strange.
On the drive home, the car thick with the smell of shit and hay and blood, the boy and I ate ice-cream sandwiches. Darkness was coming and snow began to fall.