On the Way to WorkRichard Soberpaintings

Dancing In The Kitchen

I am an ordinary looking fellow. More than ordinary, less than ordinary. I am easily overlooked in a crowd. I could be an office worker, a clerk, a man trapped in meaningless occupations, a nobody hunched over a bland meal at a counter in middle America, off some highway, just trying to be left alone. I know how many steps it takes for me to walk from where I live to the coffee shop. I know what the weather prediction for the next ten days is. My house is filled with clocks and I can spend hours watching the light change from cool to warm. I am not averse to staring at clouds drifting across the clerestory windows, the stones in the river fascinate me. Sand from the mountains is magic. I see the same people everyday because this is a small town. They don’t see me precisely because I am easily mistaken for other people. No one can quite place me, but they are sure they know me from somewhere or some time else. People even mistake me for the person I was fifteen, even thirty years ago. They tell stories that no longer have anything to do with me, but they enjoy the sense of solidity it gives them. I am no longer surprised that this is the case, but each time it occurs I recede more into the general landscape that becomes more intense in its colors even as I become pale with each passing day, each speeded-up hour. I yearn to say I have a lot of work to do around the house, get my hands dirty in the garden, fix the hot tub, repair the roof, paint the walls, straighten out the garage, turn over the compost, mow the lawn, stack the firewood. But, I have nothing to do and nowhere to go. My life is in a perpetual state of not quite being here and not quite being there. If I had somewhere to go I wouldn’t know what to do. It would take me hours to prepare myself for getting out of the house and I would be afraid of leaving something behind, of not getting all the important chores I have to do, done. I might get an important piece of mail or an email from someone I haven’t heard from in thirty years. But, I am expecting nothing and nothing is what I get. My friends are increasingly becoming shut-ins and what once seemed so strange and scary is becoming normal and almost funny. No one calls. No one answers his or her phone and no one knocks on the door. Last night I saw the neighbors through the spaces between the coyote fence. They were dancing in the kitchen. I had never seen them so enjoy each other. I looked away after a few seconds because I did not want to intrude on their happy moment even if they had no idea I saw them. I was glad for them. I turned away and watched what was left of the sun go down over the red hills. Lights turned on across the most endangered river in America. The silence in my house rang in my ears.