Friday, January 30, 2009

Ask Clarissa

Okay, so it’s been a few days in the Big House and it’s not like it's perfect, but I gotta tell you there’s nothing like having a bathroom all to yourself. I can put up with the morgue-like quiet, the chunky silverware, the ticking of clocks everywhere you turn, and all-the-cans-in-a-row (didja see Sleeping with the Enemy?) in the kitchen if it means having my own bathroom and only having to look at my own toothpaste spit in the sink.

Ryan’s the lucky one. She has the gardener’s cottage for her studio and it is super cool. When the House gets too housey, she can just say she’s got homework and can head over to her studio. I am going to have to take up painting.

I don’t have much time for this post. I am at work and writing it in between making lattes and cleaning out the leftover scones from yesterday. But I just have to say Abigail seems older than she really is sometimes, and then she will seem younger. Way younger. It creeps me out. I catch her looking at Lauren and Ryan and me and it’s like she’s one of us, like we’re a quartet of some kind, instead of three college students and an old lady. It’s weird. I can’t explain it. Not right now anyway. I gotta run. And hey! I have a date tonight!! His name’s Chance. No joke.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Love, Lauren

Dear Raul:

It was so wonderful to see you this weekend and even though we didn’t really need you & Cole to help us move in with Abigail, I am glad you came anyway. I am so jazzed you got to meet Abigail. I could see that you remind her of Tom Kimura in a way. I already know that I often remind her of herself.

So we had our first two nights at Abigail’s and we’ve managed to keep the kitchen from burning down - Esperanza’s own words - we haven’t overloaded the washer and we haven’t flooded the moody corner bathroom. After you and Cole left on Sunday, we all sat in Abigail’s beautiful sitting room and we thoroughly squished those never-used pillows. Clarissa even threw one at me when I told Abigail that Clarissa didn’t get Anna Karenina. Clarissa was quick to point out that she had no trouble getting it, she had trouble wanting to get it. Clarissa doesn’t like authors who use their characters to lecture their readers on their own world views. Tell the story, Clarissa says, I can figure out how you think if you just tell a good story. Then she said the suicide at the end was a cop out, but we all – except for Ryan – remembered Mercy and we quickly changed the subject.

Ryan is starting to grow on me. I really didn’t know her that well when Clarissa suggested her as a third housemate. I think I told you she’s an art major and very quiet and introspective. Abigail is letting her use the Kimuras’ old gardening cottage for a studio. We cleaned it out today. It’s going to be wonderful. Even Abigail said so. She sat with us and drank green tea smoothies when we were done cleaning it. It was nice. I think we will be spending a lot of time in Ryan’s studio.

I am meeting with the literary agent my dad found later this week. She has some ideas for me about what we should and shouldn’t do with the diary. She’s been talking to other publishing houses. Several, actually.

Sometimes I wish no one knew about it but Abigail and me.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Mercy's Quill

From Mercy Hayworth's book of poems and stories

April 2, 1692

The Merry Margaret

Ship upon a golden sea
Sails for twilight, away from me
Slips past the edge of all I know
To places where I cannot go
Unafraid she boldly glides
Past safe harbor, past the tides
Bound for ports where day commences
No fear, no doubt, no bold defenses
She beckons me to watch her fly
‘Cross the blue, in hopes that I
Might grip the post, hold fast and yearn
For the day when she’ll return

Monday, January 12, 2009

In the Kitchen with Esperanza

So the young ladies are coming over to the house for breakfast tomorrow. Lauren, Clarissa, and a friend of theirs named Ryan. A girl named Ryan. A girl.

This is, of course, none of my business. This is Abigail's house. If she wants three college girls running around, it is her call. Abigail told me she will expect the girls to keep dirty dishes out of their rooms, and to clean up any messes they make in the kitchen. Of course she expects this. But expectations are one thing. Reality is another.

But it's none of my business.

They are coming to discuss the arrangements. Lauren tells me it's not a done deal. Abigail would like me to join them so that we can talk openly about the bathrooms, the garages, the laundry room and the kitchen but I will wait until they have finished eating and I clear the table. I will not be able to discuss any arrangements with plates on the table.

We shall see. I've never had to share this kitchen with anyone. Not even with Abigail.

I am serving waffles. But these are not those sugary concoctions that have no heart and soul. These are waffles with purpose:

Esperanza's Good for You Waffles
1/3 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp soda
2 Tbls sugar
dash salt
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk - you already know I don't measure anything. I am just estimating here.

Mix everything well. Make sure your iron is oiled well and hot when you pour the batter. Serve with sliced strawberries, blueberries and honey butter. A little whipped cream is nice. This is enough for about three people.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Abigail on the Classics

Another year has come and gone. Another stretch of moments packaged to be remembered are waiting to be forgotten.

That’s how I used to look at the passing of one year and the birth of another. It’s different this time around.

This January is not like Januarys of the past. Things are different.

For one thing, Tom Kimura is in heaven and I am here but I have his forgiveness and the poem he wrote for me.

For another, Mercy’s diary is less a reminder of every mistake I’ve made and more a tutor on hope. Having it locked up in my safe all these years, afraid to look at it, was like keeping a diamond buried in a vat of mud. I had mistakenly assumed it had no ability to dazzle me. I saw only the mud.

And lastly, I am not alone. At least not on Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights. Lauren comes to visit me then and she often brings Clarissa with her. We share a meal and talk about books and life and love. And yes, it’s true. I have invited them to come live with me. I’d forgotten what it was like to care about people. I am well aware that caring about people lays you bare before a buffet of risks, but there are risks to every undertaking. Even being alone. We all have to choose which risks are worth taking. They are hesitant, the girls. Lauren tells me Clarissa wants to add a third girl to the mix to even things out, meaning, I think, that Clarissa feels Lauren is too much like me.

I don’t know whether to laugh or weep.

I am fine with a third girl coming if Lauren is okay with it.

Graham pretends that he thinks it’s a great idea. I can tell he does not. He thinks the girls will somehow take advantage of me. He might think this because until recently that was his sole pursuit, even on days when he wanted to be doing something else. He might also think I am only doing it to keep him out of the house and in that little condo I bought for him. It wouldn’t be appropriate for Graham to be living in this house with three single college-aged women.

Esperanza says it’s my house so I can use it however I wish. But the girls will be in her kitchen. She knows it and I know it. Esperanza has had that monstrosity of a kitchen all to herself for decades. Besides, she likes it when Lauren hovers in the kitchen to watch her cook. And I am quite certain Clarissa would benefit from a few cooking lessons. The girl eats ramen noodles raw for heaven's sake.

They will let me know next week what they have decided. I will be quite all right if they choose to stay on campus. I am an old woman and I live in an old house. Besides, change is never easy for anyone who has seen eight decades of it. But I’d be lying if I said I do not hope they say yes. And the house seems to echo my longing. If I sit still and silence even my breathing, I can hear the house sighing in anticipation.

Will they come?