She promises we’ll get up at 6 a.m. and finish weeding the side yard, prune all seven thousand trees & load the truck, take everything to the Waste-to-Energy plant, pick up a truckload of sand & then come back here to start the patio. It’s supposed to be 95 degrees. Of all these things that must happen, the 6 a.m. part is the most improbable.
But here we are. It’s 10 a.m. and the truck is nearly loaded. The side yard done. Our neighbor came out at 9 and mowed around us. The trees are lighter and seem to shrug less. She has been explaining to them why this trim is necessary. Why they’ll be happier for being shorn. I have thorns in my hands. She has a puncture to her palm. We smell. Mary especially.
And at the Waste-to-Energy plant, we’re behind some yahoo determined to consolidate all of his values onto bumper stickers. We end up next to him as we’re dumping the clean greens. “I should have brought a broom,” I tell Mary.
“I have one,” he offers. And we accept, gratefully. Because this is the day it is. Our bodies already sore and protesting, one neighbor mowing our yard, another bringing us blueberry batter for pancakes, and now this fellow, a man opposed to most of our life, loans us his broom. All day our conversations run like this. Friends stopping by with strawberries and sugar snap peas. A 5-year-old singing me lullabies beside the glowing fire and then running back to build sand castles in the nearly-patio.
Beauty is hard. And imperfect. Sand on the floor in every room. Insect bites along the ridge of my shoulders. Ibuprofen at 4 a.m. But how would we see love so clearly without labor? How would we build our lives around it if we were determined to be unmarred?