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It’s a beautiful morning, but I can’t get comfortable. I sat in my usual chair and then moved to the couch.  That didn’t feel right so I moved back to the chair, but the view felt stifled, so I picked up and moved the chair.  But this new spot feels disconnected, so I moved back to the couch. I hadn’t even had my first cup.

The absence of Levi is now visceral.  I packed up the remaining Christmas stuff late last night, at a time when all I wanted to do was flop on the couch.  I had built our first fire in weeks and the room was too warm and cozy.  Post dinner, dark as hell outside, the weighted blanket was calling my name.  But I had left the job unfinished for too long, in my mind, and the open, empty plastic bins scattered about the room were starting to look defiant.  They too were dissatisfied.  I fetched the step stool and rotating the tree, I removed the remaining soldiers and placed each in a tiny cardboard coffin, leaving the ornaments with Levi’s picture on last.  All I could think about were those big brown eyes watching me as I decorated the tree, knowing full well that it was his last Christmas. 

With the tree dismantled and the bins stacked neatly at the front door, I returned to the scene and vacuumed.  I fucking vacuumed late at night; that was taking it too far.  This morning my living room floor looks like a hospital.  Why am I the one to take the last of the items with me and walk out? Like the time the glass doors slid open and I walked out into glaring sunshine while she lay frozen under florescent lights. Like the time my mom wasn’t there, and I went to school anyway under the guidance of ill-equipped babysitters. 

I put the vacuum away suspecting I had gone too far.  You left a gaping hole in the middle of the room—what did you expect?  Now a hidden vortex, I can feel the blank space just waiting to suck my mind into it.  What a big, open mess.

But I knew what I was doing.  Change is inevitable.  I look back at my own life, and the relentless cycle of death, life, and change sits there collecting dust.  You cannot do anything about this.  Nor would you want to.  The alternative is to not be here at all, and the ache that delivers brings me right back to the trenches, more than happy to solider on.  Somehow the shifting of chairs this morning—me physically moving from one seat to the next in my own home—made me realize that I have a belief in there that might be the log causing the whole thing to dam up.  My mind thinks I have to be somebody in order to write.  Like I have to be Steinbeck in order to write.  Instead of writing in order to become Steinbeck—or even better, Nobody at all. I can’t write my story, I’m Nobody! Who wants to read a story about Nobody?  And yet, there my story sits, begging to be written.  It talks to me in a Groucho Marx voice, ‘you can’t make that shit up kid; let’er rip.’

We all have so many cockamamie ideas running around in our heads it’s a wonder any of us come together under any pretense whatsoever.  How boring it would actually be to know exactly what you’re thinking at all times.  The sign would read “A Universe Discovered.  Nothing Left to See.” It was years ago when a professor leaned in and said you got what it takes Mol, you’re the next Steinbeck. Well didn’t that puff me up?  Who would have known that a comment like that would land like airbags going off and I would forever sit frozen awaiting rescue?  And who would have known that a few years later my beloved Grandma would admit to me one evening in her Carmel California apartment that she had an affair with John Steinbeck.  One day, you’re going to finish that story Grandma, after I’m done writing this one.