Gil and I took possession of this house just yesterday, in May 1998, a day that poured rain. When we woke the next morning, the first sound we heard was the raucous augury of crows, nesting in a half-dead tree we hadn't noticed out back.
I came down to investigate. Through this window, I saw a sanitation truck lurching past, the trash workers tossing in the wet boxes from our move. They followed behind the truck on foot, patting its iron flanks to forge onward, crying, Hey-up!
I drank my tea and tried to fathom how we'd own this structure, this land--in two or three decades, after discharging our debt. I patted my belly, where the baby grew.
Who will we be when it's done?
How can I answer, now that I know? I want to warn the young woman at that window that in two years, everything she knows will be so changed.
She will be grateful that the mortgage is low, then, and that her new widow's benefit covers it. She will wake alone to the sound of crows, put the baby in front of cartoons, and come to this window to light cigarette after cigarette, furtively blowing her misery out the window.
Some days the sanitation guys will be there--they will sometimes see her, looking out at them from her window. She will wave at them, or they at her, as the trucks groan through, and they will move so swiftly, sweeping discards up and flinging empty cans in their wake, forging on, crying, Hey-up!
She will use the house as collateral for graduate school, living off loans and paying herself to read and think and stay sane.
She will carry the baby to and fro from the driveway to the back door, heavier all the time, a toddler, a preschooler, no daddy to carry that sleeping weight late at night like they'd dreamed.
She will refinance repeatedly over the years to keep it all going.
She will marry a man she now calls Charles Bukowski. She will get a teaching job when she is 40. She will do many other things she doesn't expect. Some of them she won't be proud of. She will buy a better car and an extension ladder after he leaves. She will teach herself to grill outdoors, and be really surprised how simple it is.
She will have the tree of raucous crows removed.
She will plant a pink flowering almond in her first husband's memory.
She will befriend someone who becomes her lover and then her third husband.
On a Monday in March, 16 years and change from the first morning, a realtor will come to see them at their request. She will know nothing of the tree of crows that is gone now. She will not know the story of the almond tree. Maybe she sees the view from this window as a difficulty. It is certainly lacking in allure to the casual eye.
The woman I am now should keep the blind drawn when we show the house. But for a few mornings more, I won't. I will stand at this window looking out, sometimes at the trucks that renew us and move on.