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  • The sky has given up. It's lost its color and looks limpid up there, sitting as a bystander above the roiling, slate colored sea. I usually think of the ocean as female and today she's pissed off to a mythological degree. Foaming at the mouth and bashing the shores like an ill behaved lover who's done something stupid - he's insulted her, humiliated her, crossed some invisible line and now needs reprimanding. Reminding of Who's In Charge and How Dare He.

    She's irate.

    It sounded cold out, the wind howling so loud it woke me up at 5:30am. I quietly tiptoed downstairs and opened the patio door, expecting a welcome cool blast of sea air but no. Still hot. It's almost liquid, this salty air. I don't know what the percentage of humidity it must be at least 90%. The same it's been for the month we've now been here. Like summer. Except that it's not. It's mid September now, technically early fall in my book, but here it just continues to be summer. The long, long summer that refuses to end.

    "Oh I don't put away my white pants till the end of October" a friend offered up as advice to me the other day. Hmm. I can't wrap my head around a warm Halloween. I remember near freezing nights as a child in Chicago - wanting to wear the dainty, diaphanous fairy costume but not doing so 'cause having to wear a winter jacket over the top ruins it. Completely.

    "Forget it. I'll be the witch instead" I huffed. Layering on tee shirts and tights, gloves and a hat underneath the shapeless drape of black and the floppy, pointy hat. "Trick or treat!" we shouted with feet moving, moving, practically skipping in place, trying to stay warm. Grab the candy and bolt to the next house. Quick!

    But not this year. White pants? Huh.

    I closed the patio door and walked over to my phone, looking to see what had flown into my inbox overnight. A text from my husband, a few time zones away:

    "I woke up in this hotel room confused. All this travel is playing trix with my head." Tricks and no treats I thought, still hung up on memories of Halloween. The glamour of business travel and even his very recent promotion has lost its luster. He doesn't like putting on his work costume, wearing his silly, smiling mask of optimistic diplomacy. He is tired and wants to be home. My heart hurt for him, for me, for all of us.

    I fired back a message saying it'd get better soon, when we are back together as a family, living under one roof. His business travel won't change, but at least he'll have us to come back to. He'll have home.

    "Where is home again?" he quipped.

    Home the building is in Pennsylvania - that beautiful old house that won't let us go, refuses to be sold. The place that is now getting chilly at night and where pumpkins look appropriate piled up at the kitchen door. Right about now I'd be bringing in stacks of firewood, getting excited about dinners eaten in front of the wood stove and weekend mornings there too, huge mug of coffee in hand. Ugh. That one hurts. I cast the image out of my head.

    Home the people is here, 1000 miles south, in Florida. My son and I temporarily seeking shelter under my mother-in-law's roof while we wait and wait and wait. Our son is beautifully adapting to a new school, a new lifestyle. It suits him. But me? I'm not so sure. Not having a job to go to each day, adults my own age to talk to. I find it challenging. We try to be well behaved houseguests, keeping personal effects confined to our bedrooms, and trying to be helpful wherever possible - driving to doctor's appointments, cleaning out the garage, making dinner, helping her set up a Gmail account. Small things. Meanwhile it takes a lot of self control to fight the urge to redecorate her house, skinny down all the stuff that has accumulated here for 25+ years - the piles and piles of books, memorabilia on every surface, cabinets full of well used, mismatched dishware, etc.

    It's a particular torture to have to look at a photo of my husband and me, stuck to the fridge. We both look hideous, and I am vain. I openly admit this.

    "Wow. That photo. Perhaps I can find you a better one?"

    "Oh, but I like it! You are both smiling!" she says.

    Well I guess. There's that. But I often find smiling over rated. It can look downright stupid, all that smiling. Better to just look attractive. Even pissed off and attractive is better. I think I like that best of all, actually. Never too much blaring white, a little dark is always needed to temper things I think, to add dimension to anything, be it a room, a garden, even a face.

    I'd told my husband this and he laughed. "Just hold tight" he'd said, "you can do whatever you want in our own house. Soon!"

    How Soon is Now - the Smiths song - had suddenly started playing in my head. Morrissey's voice wailing, his droning lament:

    "When you say it's gonna happen "now"
    Well when exactly do you mean?
    See I've already waited too long
    And all my hope is gone"

    I looked out the window at that grey and churning sea, listened to the wind some more. I wondered about the sea and the gods, about who is pissed at whom and why, about what battles are being fought and who is missing home. Feelings of loss and missing can make a woman spitting, slapping mad, this I know.

    "Home = me. Wherever. Remember?" I'd replied via text, trying to sound chipper. There was silence, no response. He'd likely already bolted out of a cab and into a meeting. I think he too is losing his sense of humor about all of this.

    Ah. Well. My imaginary convos ensued, between the beach, myself, and my melancholic musician:

    I understand you, sea, you pissed off sister, your anguish mirrors my own. And you Morrissey, sing to me for real! Show up at the door and we'll go for a walk on that frothing beach at high tide, see which of us walks into the surf first. Will you save me or will I save you? Probably neither. We too are alike I think - not actually self-destructive but addicted to morose story lines, the angry gloom of storms and all that sad, sad poetry.

    These dark thoughts buoyed my spirit.

    Nevermind the geography and the heat - today I'll ride with it, wear black. I'll wander around aimlessly, sneering and snarking and building some kind of a story around my foul, tempestuous mood, around this unfortunate situation...

    The sky overheard my thoughts and seem to answer in accord, spitting down rain. Morrissey smiled (as much as he ever really smiles, which really means a smirk) and nodded his head in an approving way. I reached for the black dress hanging in the closet.
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