04 November, 2015

Gratitude season

So picking up the story where i left off, after the abrupt loss of job and temporary work left me severely depressed, I decided to head back to Maine where i could work for an old friend and keep an eye on my 77-year-old dad, who had given us all a little scare with pneumonia earlier in the spring and would continue to live alone until October. While there, i hoped to get my motorcycle on the road so i could ride it home to Tucson and have wheels here. Turns out Virago carbeurators are as finicky as they tell you, and when you're earning ten an hour to the mechanic's sixty-five, professional help is hard to finagle.

Because life is never stressful enough, one of my tenants contacted me in early September to report boxes in his room had been tampered with, personal documents were missing, and he was dealing with identity theft. Soon i too found myself receiving decline notices on credit cards i'd never applied for. When i returned to Tucson, two pieces of furniture were missing and three camera lenses and my violin had disappeared from the storage closet, along with my mortgage documents. The tenant who now, nearly a month later, admits he allowed an unauthorized occupant in my home - something i initially knew only from others' reports - says he's going to sue me.

It wasn't just an armoire, lenses and violin missing. So many of my personal belongings had migrated into that tenant's room that it took days to get any real sense of what had been stolen versus simply appropriated.

You don't really know the value of an item until it's stolen. Sure, it has a replacement value, and keep a list of serial numbers just in case. Sentimental value includes sweat equity: I poured every bit of earnings from my first job into buying those lenses. The violin i was looking forward to play in the neighborhood's Las Posadas processions this Christmas season; all that's left of it is a single Pirastro string envelope by the trash cans. I can get another dozuki saw, but that one belonged to my mother. Because the universe is never finished, while i was putting dishes away, my favorite mug decided to fall and shatter.

Trying to accurately gauge my losses, i ended up with a dual-entry. For everything i had to replace, there was another reminding me of its origin memories, its latent value as art, its usefulness.


Out here in Arizona, November is a comfortable, slightly rainy month. The basil had grown so out of control it took up most of the garden - even started putting down adventitious roots - and smells glorious. The soil was actually damp two days after rain, thanks to all that prostrate basil. Three volunteer jalapeño plants that sprouted in the potted jasmine already held pendant podfuls of capsaicin. I can't really think of a more appropriate "welcome home to Tucson" sign from the garden than volunteer jalapeños.

Bronzed beech trees and bare boughs or mesquite and cacti, November has a special feeling for me no matter the climate and flora. I start staring down that fourth Thursday and think to myself, "it's gratitude season."