All morning long I cleaned. First I backed the truck down the driveway, almost to the front door. I needed to empty the back and re-arrange the contents—boxes of family artifacts from my late Aunt Mary’s house in Maine, the “truck box” (tow chains, jumper cables, tools, rope, lug wrench), the carton the microwave came in, three recycling bins, old towels, and a folding camp chair. There was chipmunk or mouse poop on the old T-shirt I’d used to cover up an open box from Maine; it was chewed to pieces besides, so of course I tossed it. Inside and now exposed, a heavy cardboard mailing tube with “Marriage license of Hamilton Young” written on the side. For almost a year I’ve been driving around with my great-grandfather’s marriage license in the back of my ’87 Ford, and to think I used to have his saddle bags. Where they are now is a longish tale of cruelty and hijacked heritage. A family thing, in other words, mirroring the care I showed the junk, I guess. Oh well.
The point of all this was to ready the truck for a storage unit run. The artifacts, mostly photographs my siblings will never understand or place, as well as a large plastic bin of my own photos and slides that had morphed into furniture in our crowded living room, were better off there. (Why do I even have these things?) Anyway, straightening the truck made room for the bin. While I was at it, I loaded the empty boxes I’d stashed in the corner over by the kiva. Now there was space behind me at my desk and the room felt so much better. To finish up, I pretended to vacuum. At least the brush on the attachment rearranged the cat hair on the rug.
For some reason this exhausted me. My wife was at her studio. I called her to say that I would not be walking that afternoon as planned because I felt so tired. She was adamant that I not push myself, which I was already guilty of, but the intent of moral absolution mattered most. Twenty minutes later, a thunderous rainstorm out of nowhere attacked the mesa, making me the second smartest guy on earth for staying put. My prize was getting to take a nap on the leather sofa in an empty, just-cleaned house while rain plonked down on the skylight.
I fetched a blanket from the bedroom and stretched out, grateful that I could. The upholstered arm made a fine pillow once I turned on my right side, with my body pressed against the back of the sofa. Under this arrangement, there was no place for my left arm, so I let it hang down across my torso. With my back against the cushion and the weight of my arm below my ribs, it felt like someone was holding me, and I quickly drifted off.