Good Advice

Alex’s mom Callie comes by to deliver fresh eggs. Ordinarily, I leave $2 for her in the mailbox (a mile down the road) and she leaves a dozen eggs in exchange. But today is Tuesday (“Balls-To-The-Wall Writing Day,” as I have come to call it), which means I am not going out, so she delivers the eggs directly to my door. This, I believe, is one small miracle of kindness among many in the world.

Callie has short, reddish-grey hair and smooth, elegant skin. She is in her fifties and the mother of an eighth grade and a fifth grade boy. She and her husband, who I got to go on a weeklong backpacking trip with last spring, are two of the best parents I know. They conduct themselves with a sort of calmness that only older parents with young children can; something that comes from just knowing that things will turn out. Their boys are creative and inventive, outspoken and well intentioned, willing to access their own emotions, and know the difference between right and wrong. At the Montessori school, I have seen Callie at work with the little children, her soft voice full of love and forethought.

“Wow, this place is pretty,” Callie says, turning her face toward the timber-framed ceiling and railing for the loft. “It’s big.”

I remind her that I’m in the big house for the winter, but in a few weeks I will move back to my little cabin when the owners return. We walk down the path to my cabin, which is also timber-framed with bold yellow pine beams and has a shingled roof. “This isn’t so small, Katey,” she says, nodding in approval. I show her the writing office and the kitchen I helped install. Callie lets out a deep breath and looks at me out of the corner of her eye.

“Soak this up,” she says in her wisdom tone, “soak this up. You never know what could happen so enjoy this solitude while you can.”

“The owners know I’m going for my master’s degree, so it will be at least a couple years,” I say, not sure of what she is getting at. We exit the cabin and I look at her again, noticing a friendly, distant gaze in her eyes.

“No, I mean before you know it you could be married or have a family and then you won’t be alone for years. At a certain point in my life I finally knew that would come my way. I didn’t have to keep looking for it or going after it, I just trusted that it would happen. Try to make the best of this while you have it,” she concludes. Now I understand what she means.

“It’s funny though, how you want what you don’t have, even in the face of the most generous gifts of your life,” I say, a little sad now. Callie knows what I am talking about. She knows about Evan. She probably knows about MGL. She knows about Gavin, from way back. She knows I am searching, weighing my options, throwing out “filament after filament” (Walt Whitman).

Her youngest son darts through the woods and tugs at his mom’s sleeve. “C’mon,” he moans. He has been in the car for almost twenty minutes. “Please, mom.” Callie looks up at me and smiles, and I think to myself…and then you won’t be alone for years. Their car crackles down the gravel road and I walk back into my cabin, where I write for the remainder of the day, alone.

This month’s new published works:
Western North Carolina Woman, click on the following titles: “Dipatches from the Not-So-Common Cold” and “Peace Narrative” (a reflection on pro-gay rights marches in Oregon as compared to homophobia in a local public school here in the rural Bible belt of the south)
”The In-Between Time” (a reflection on nature walks, scroll past the book reviews).

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