Getting Things Done
It may be something about the March light coming in through the giant window that takes up the whole sloping wall of the room, like god is yawning a big, golden yawn, an almost obscene swath of sun pouring all over David’s brand-new honey-coloured floors made of very expensive allegedly sustainable bouncy bamboo. They almost make him feel slightly aroused these floors. Maybe because he and Kathryn had agreed easily on these, this change, this direction. But perhaps it has less to do with Kathryn than he would like.
They are sitting, like every weekday morning at 8:30 am, on the third floor of their home, divided into two rooms, exactly the same, furnished with identical workstations, same folders, labels, label-maker, same and perfect. But the sun isn’t on Kathryn’s side now. And when it is, she might be cooking or out. How had this come to pass? They had flipped a coin. Fair and square.
So all of that may have something to do with the fact that this morning he scans through his Someday/Maybe List and is just like yeah!
“Kathryn!” he shouts.
“Yeah babe?” she shouts back.
“I’m doing it. I’m doing it today. I’m gonna buy a flute.”
“Next action babe. Next action.” A frazzled tightness in her voice because he always fucking forgets. Especially lately.
“Right. I’m going to, uh. Google flute shops in the area. Wait! Google where one buys flutes?”
“Good babe, good.”
He can picture her, sitting there, engine running, heeled pump ticking against their beautiful bamboo floor. There is something wrong. There has been something wrong for a few days. Or weeks? Ever since the last conference in Minneapolis when he stared into space for so, so long at the airport and she actually had to clap her hands in his face to get him back, to get him scanning his lists, to rifle through his folders and find “In the Airport.” The green one. How did he forget? The fact was, he had forgotten where they were. Where they had been. Flapping through his mind like giant bat wings were the things he had shouted into the microphone that day, over and over again. “Review your lists weekly!” he had shouted. “If you do not, the entire system will collapse! You can feel good about what you’re not doing, only when you know what you’re not doing! You must have a mind like water – water responds entirely appropriately to every situation! No more! No less!” he had screamed, and his voice had bounced off the walls and ceilings of the medium-sized theatre, and screamed back at him. Mind like water. And now?
Now he was Googling damnit. “Where does one buy flutes?” he typed and felt a frisson of delight shiver through his spine. In grade school he had chosen clarinet, big mistake both socially and talent-wise it turned out. He could not do the reed thing, it seemed to buckle and rip if he just looked at it, and it tasted like a snowed-on, breathed-on old scarf that had never been through the wash. No. He had begged then, begged to switch over to trumpet where the boys all were, who knew why, even though the flute was his true, true love. Who knew where that came from? He wasn’t entirely fay. To be truly honest with himself, and he did try to be, and he did try to be with Kathryn too, though it was very very hard sometimes because of the way she looked at him with that angry line in her forehead that was not anger, he knew, but a product of working very very hard basically supporting entirely his projects for all these years, his projects which were just as much her projects, but he got all the credit, the guru status, he had learned all of this in marriage counselling, and the line got longer and deeper, but he tried to be honest as he had been on vacation two winters ago, where had they been? Aspen? No. Vermont. They had had two glasses each of champagne, and were sitting in the outdoor hottub, bromine-scented steam swirling against the backdrop of the mountains down which they had speedily shot that morning, Kathryn so fast and so sleek. The pool area echoed with the squeal and squeak of a sort of coven of rich teenaged girls of the type they abhorred, and he had cleared his throat and told her, “It’s quite honestly the music itself. The way it sounds. It…um. Transports me. The way it’s almost nothing, and yet completely something. The way it’s emotion embodied in air. Or. Emotion turned into air. Or.” He had felt a semi-painful folding sensation in his chest as he’d tried to explain and she had smiled at him, but seemed distracted, annoyed by the teens, who issued now from the pool, a dripping, shrieking bikinied mass, the relaxation value they had carefully calibrated through online research leaking away, and she smiled, but he felt, still, ashamed.
Hero’s Music on Davenport Road. Ellis Piano Inc., a little bit further away, in Santa Paula. He would go there now. A drive would be nice. He reviewed his next actions in “At the Computer” to make sure nothing there would currently better serve his Ultimate Life Purpose as seen from 50,000 feet up – the altitude analogy had been entirely Kathryn’s idea, but nobody knew – and decided that, no. Nothing would. Even though the E-news was getting close to being overdue. And then there would be stress and panic in the morning. These feelings lately, he craved them. They made him think of the joy his daughter Melissa must experience when she inserts the razor blade in her skin, transparent in a watery way like the rice milk she’s insisted they buy ever since she started to change, since all of this nonsense started in the first place, but somehow he understands. About this understanding he has not been honest with Kathryn. He never could be. He shuts the computer down and puts a jacket on that seems a little too light for the weather, weirdly cool for Ojai, and imagines the lick of the wind and the snap of the flute case clips opening up to reveal something silver and special and only his, and Kathryn’s furrowed brow when he tells her over tomorrow’s breakfast – they always share a leisurely breakfast, no devices allowed – that the E-news isn’t done, and won’t be until the afternoon, one single sliver before deadline, because he has to practice his flute in the morning, he has to learn. He gets in the SUV that feels bigger than the bedroom he shared with his brother in the house he grew up in, and he rides the window button hard with his manicured finger till all four are all the way down and he drives a little too fast all the way out of town, the cool March breeze lifting his baby-fine gray hairs up up up, pulling on his shining scalp with its fading Mexico tan.
The very talented Julia Tausch is currently in Toronto, trying to finish her second novel, “Partying All Night and Going out Dancing,” and, she tells HOOD brazenly, watching The Bachelorette.
Photograph by Joanne Hughes, Imperial Highness