This phosphorescent, sinuous vista was the roof of Orcas Island last summer, in June. The oddest juxtaposition, this mossy slope and adjacent, trailing kinnikinnick! Adam and I tarried along the crown of Mount Constitution before dropping like a broken elevator to the lake below, the name of which escapes me as the island is saddled with a number of bland, forgettable place-names. The depth of field here is my cup of tea though it calls to mind a Corgi with grass-stained tummy (it’s my aperture). Several miles from the base of Constitution is home to Camp Orkila, where Adam has spent a portion of the past week (most of his time has been on Satellite Island camping under the stars). During this particular occasion we were sharing a rustic home on the island with dear friends who currently are packing boxes for a move from Ann Arbor to Philadelphia. When I should visit next hasn’t quite been figured out, I do love them and owe a call-upon. Summer seems a virtually miserable time in the big cities back east (woe the edginess humidity hath wrought) but they’re both university academics so my favorite season (autumn) is probable to be inconvenient unless I’m in the mood for mostly exploring on my own, which I sort of could be, in the evenings regale them with exploits from my zany adventures, like almost wetting myself during a DEFCON 1 search for a sanitary public toilet after miles of walking through history with five cups of coffee.
This morning, Oliver Fern and I counted coins, depositing them into the pretty blue vase from whence we dumped them out last evening (in search of quarters for an apéritif at the hilltop arcade, he played five games of Super Mario Kart followed by quiet browsing at the bookshop down the street). Curiosity got the best of us at breakfast-time, quizzing one another as to the worth of those tarnished nickels, dimes, and quarters and the grand total arrived at forty three dollars and ninety-three cents, not counting currency from Canada and Chuck E. Cheese and coin counting eventually circled to Orcas Island as I explained the history of the vase to Oliver. It came from a little farm in Crow Valley on the island, quite a long time ago. In the back of a clapboard house was a small barn with rickety shelves and Black Widows, that’s where we picked out the vase.
This morning finds me on the melancholy side, for second-youngest brother who is among the best and funniest uncles on the planet, his visit next weekend kiboshed on account of the soul-crushing demands of ruthless upstairs capitalism, I’m dreadfully disappointed but he has a young family to take care of along with a gruesome fixer-upper in Logan Square. Every day he rides the train to his office in the heart of the Loop where he disembarks into an urban obstacle course, dodging missiles of traffic through fearsome, shadowy Ayn Randian canyons of glass towers before sitting down at a leaning tower of papers stacked five feet high where he conducts drastically serious maneuvers of reasoning and logic. He’s the real big brother, one of us was fated to circle back to the Windy City, carry on the tradition, no one is more Chicago than him. Two winters ago we stood side-by-side for an impromptu portrait of our families together, much later I startled to see the photograph: Little brother towers over me in crisp business casual, impeccably groomed while I’m discomfitingly hillbilly, long hair curtaining my shoulders, it was hard not to cringe a bit at the Wild Bill Hickock staring back. Some of us are comfortable with the tradeoff when it comes to personal grooming (there’s only so much time in the day) yet the portrait was a jarring reveal and last night, before heading up the hill for the arcade, found me trimming nearly my entire beard and mustache with dainty sewing scissors, I haven’t kept a razor for twenty years (where do I even go for a haircut?) and forgot my nose is sort of crooked, courtesy of an old schoolyard brawl. Oliver beheld with perceptible disappointment his less hirsute father as recently he finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in which I’d served as the mental composite for his Hagrid.
Finally, this morning (when Oliver and I were scriss-scrossing tallies, plinking coins into the vase) my thoughts turned a quarter rotation to Adam. Several nights ago, struggling to fall back asleep I found myself reflecting upon the thorny ethics of the journal, writing about my teenager-in-the-wings. It dawned on me with clarity how devastated or conflicted his future self could be to find these accountings, if they go on much further. Up until now, I think it’s been fine. He has always been just a boy, after all. It’s like the time mother showed your first serious steady the ridiculous Kodak featuring you at four years old, the underwear is on your head (it’s supposed to be a deep sea diving helmet) and you’re itching your nekkid parts. Who gives a flying leap? But I’ve gotten past that point. Naivety or good intentions aren’t on my side, anymore. Adam deserves the right to tell his own story. It’s time for me to start standing on my two feet.