December 30, 2015 by RJ
I’m not going to tell you how to do it. I know as much as you. Though, making a list can help. I make lists. The lists are all rather comparable, for the most part. Admittedly, I’m too predictable as it. It’s in my best interest to look after what I add or claim to these lists. Comes with age, loss of love, the customary highs and lows of life, and making sure you don’t find yourself doing things you don’t want to be doing. Like, making Friday night plans three weeks in advance when you have no idea how you will be feeling on a particular evening at 7 o’clock, 21 days from now. I used to go along with plans like that, not anymore. What else, watching other people to see they do it can help as well, if you come across the right person that is.
When making a list consider things like the shockingly large amount of time that is spent just repeating indistinguishable conversations from one person to the next when your neighbor counts on you to consistently agree to a conversation each time you physically see one another. I once half-calculated the time, even wrote it down somewhere. It’s why I now wait till nine at night to go down to do my laundry, and why I park my car three blocks away even though I have an accommodating parking spot out back in the alley behind the house. These math computations are also when I decided I liked Claire and Hank. They live downstairs in the basement apartment. Have so for the last six and half years. They have an arrangement with our landlord Bettie. Really no point, more of a hassle than anything to look elsewhere – that’s what Hank says. Claire’s always good for a couple cigarettes for when Bettie stops by to check up on things, and Hank cuts the grass in the summer and shovels the walkway in the winter. So, rent has pretty much stayed the same all these years for Hank and Claire. Stuff like that is good for people like us. We deserve the break, especially them.
Our other neighbors in the rented house, below my apartment and above Claire and Hank, we could do without, but those apartment units never keep any tenants for long. We are not what the new neighbors are looking for in neighbors. Before ever seeing or meeting us (Hank, Claire, and myself), young couples, or some drunk guy in his mid-twenties wanting to party, will rent units #2 and #3, assuming the other people, as in us, will be just as fun as them. Everyone has different means of fun. That’s a good thing. It’s the necessity of checks and balances in order to keep the world somewhat sane. For instance, take Hank’s idea of a good time, over the last 40 years of his life, the man has probably watched nearly 6,000 Los Angeles Dodgers games – not including the simulated seasons he manages during the offseason on his desktop and the countless hours spent in the online forum threads talking shop with other fans . I like baseball as well. Sometimes, when I can hear him shuffling around out back, I’ll throw on a baseball cap to take the garbage out. He doesn’t immediately point it out, but in his roundabout way he always gets to the subject of baseball. The way Claire smiles at me between drags of her cigarette makes me think she knows I wear the hat on purpose. I’m interested in Hank’s ability to stomach an underperforming season by a favorite team. He has what it takes, I don’t. I know there’s a reason for that and I’m starting to believe I know how he does it. Most of all, I like to hear out what he has to say about how life is going. Talking with him is better than any list of how to do life.
Years ago, while Claire was drunk on one glass of wine, she told me Hank spent two years in the service when he was 19. After putting in his time overseas, Hank didn’t go home, though. He travelled, stayed with friends, took on seasonal work wherever he felt like living. Claire’s mother had a bakery in Ireland. She doesn’t run the business these days. Don’t know if it was because of retirement or being forced to close shop due to finances. Either way, without fail, a couple times a year she mails Claire a box of homemade fudge. Perhaps with her mother’s knowledge, Claire gives the fudge to me. I think so.
Hank has never mentioned his family, but he likes hearing about mine. He tells of his friends’ names in his recollections. They seem like interesting people, people I would get along with. Hank did not have fun at war, but he did meet Claire while stationed off the coast of Ireland; and, I know, by the way they share this here life, in space and time, this is how he does life. I like Claire and Hank, and I think they like me too.
JACK C. BUCK lives in Denver, Colorado. He thanks you for reading his work. He can be found on Twitter @Jack_C_Buck