08 October 2006

With dancing goats and pencils...

There’s this habit Jeremy’s gotten into lately of putting a #2 pencil behind his ear and walking around with it there. He’s also curiously territorial about his pencil supply, as if they are very valuable to him. While working on my charcoal drawing a couple months back, I wore down the erasers on two without him realizing I had taken them. He was not as angry as if I had, say, cut all the strings on his guitars with kitchen shears, or dipped the toes of his socks into glue. But he wasn’t exactly happy either.

The other day he came home from the office supply store with a brand new box, and walked by me clutching it to his chest.

Mike, a guy I worked with years ago, always wore a single paper clip slipped over the collar of his shirt for no apparent reason. I asked Jeremy if his pencil-behind-the-ear was going to be something like Mike and his paper clip. You know, like a fashion statement or something. He said no, that he just liked having the pencils behind his ear while he is in a mode of writing. Maybe they help him think better.

Yesterday we went to the public library downtown to get out of the house and read. Jeremy studied some GK Chesterton, while I nibbled on a sandwich and shortbread cookie at the Provence Café attached to the library. It was a really beautiful day outside, and the library wasn’t too crowded for a weekend. I left Jeremy at the table with his cup of Dancing Goats coffee and wandered the halls on the third floor, pulled by the rows and rows of pages.

Eventually I collected an interesting stack and settled myself in a leather chair at the end of a short row to read and look out the window. From that far up, I could see the street below, and a small courtyard where some people gathered near a fountain. After awhile, “out the window” became more interesting than the books in my lap; I watched a large flock of birds swooping in formation. There must have been fifty of them, in a perfect triangle pattern with equal spaces between them. They dipped and rose in the most beautiful way for a long time, as if performing a well-rehearsed dance that only I was watching.

Jeremy called and pulled me from my audience seat. The parking meter was running out. We left the library and headed toward our car: Jeremy, the pencil, and me.

On a roundabout way home, we passed bright sandwich boards announcing that Tower Records was going out of business. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to buy a new CD, but we ducked inside to see what was on sale. Twenty minutes later we left with a CD each, and the Garden State DVD. I glanced at the receipt on our way out the door and pointed out to Jeremy that even with the liquidation prices, we had still spent more than we would have on Amazon. “I know. But this is commemorative,” he said. And then made us pause for a moment of silence in front of the record store.

My uncle Phil used to work at Tower Records in Northern California, back when I was much younger. Even though I never really shopped at Tower that consistently, it’s still sad to see it go, in a symbolic sort of way.

Last night the baby was darting and diving around inside me like those birds at the library, so I had a fitful night of sleep. This afternoon, we headed over to visit our friends, the Smiths, who just had a baby boy yesterday. He looked so tiny and dependent, with his little legs curled up to his body and his sweet, sleepy eyes. I feel at the same time excited and apprehensive, inquisitive and hopeful, as we await our turn to do the same in January. I know I should enjoy our Saturdays of doing nothing much at all, while I can.


jeremy said...

leave my pencils out of this, lady!

Lauren said...

I loved this essay in its entirety, but the final sentence rang truest of all ;)

Christine said...

Lovely! I'm laughing at the idea of Jeremy taking that pencil with him everywhere! And I had no idea Tower closed. Sniff, sniff.