Art: In a World of My Own by Ally Eden
Story by Ed
The chaotic randomness of the universe cannot be stopped long enough to grab a piece and assign it meaning. But God be damned if we won’t try – that’s what the porch was invented for after all. Slumping in the cool shade just to watch the world go by… it is one of our most human ways of showing our human-ness. Anyway, that’s about size of what I was doing on this particular afternoon as the sun sank into the lower third of the sky. I looked out with admiration at the front lawn which I had just mowed moments ago, hands still buzzing as if the cells within were remembering the vibration of the mower bar. Swinging a beer up to my face, gasoline vapors wafted off my fingertips as I began to daydream.
Contrary to my now relaxing body, my mind grew tormented by the future and the impending doom that seemed destined to accompany – wars, climate change…. *sip*…… extinction, water shortage…… *sip, sip* …. “How long will it be until all lawns are replaced with astro-turf that needs never be watered?” I wondered. I let years pass in my daydream, picturing a futuristic suburban neighborhood where people were vacuuming their “lawns”. There would be no debris of leaves and dust, as there would be no more trees and no more exposed earth to generate such things – everything paved over. More years pass…. children would ask their parents why green plastic was the standard front-of-house décor, knowing nothing of grass. Eventually it would become clear that the green plastic was no more than a vestige – nothing at all except a phony aesthetic designed to hint at warm conforting memories of lawn that had been held only in the minds of people who had all died long ago. “I don’t know, its just the way it is,” the parents would answer, also knowing nothing of lawns. I blink hard a few times to bring myself back to reality and acknowledging the rabbit hole I had just wandered down. I took the last swig of my warming beer.
Conflicted between the want of another and the guilt that would accompany further intoxication without company aside from my own daydreams, I devised a solution in picking up the phone and convincing Nate to stop by and bullshit for a while. Nate was the ideal “drinking buddy” always having something interesting to say, yet also being comfortable saying nothing at all – even when conversation stopped, we could sit comfortably in silence rather than nervously fidgeting like birds folding and refolding their wings on a new branch. Nate was the kind of fella I never in a million years would have guessed I’d become friends with. I always saw him as a bona fide hillbilly and he probably saw me as a liberal fruitcake. But he had big heart and it showed, that’s what drew me to him. He cared deeply for others and kept an open mind despite his upbringing by a less openminded and very vocal family. I never know what excactly he saw in me though…
Reassured by the promise of company, I brought a few more beers out to the creaky wooden porch so I could get back to it and have some waiting for Nate when he arrived. After a few minutes of picking at a toenail I suspected to have a fungal counterpart and watching the cabbage moths lope through the air, Nate pulled up in his rickety old 1971 Ford Baja Bronco and climbed out. “Oh shewwt!” Nate exclaimed. “I better call my friend and tell him there’s a homeless man living on his front porch,” he joked pretending to hold his phone to his ear. You see, I had neglected to cut my hair for quite some time and was now also unshaven with a patchy pubescent scruff growing off my face. It was a classic Nate dig and one I’d heard many times. “Yeah yeah, who invited your redneck ass over here?” I fired back with a grin. We chuckled, cracked our beers, and were immediately carrying on just like we always did, reminiscing about our past shared escapades, and comparing notes on our understanding of random tidbits we had heard on the news or through our friends.
The conversation lulled and we sat sipping away, watching as a woman walked right in front of us with a corgi on leash stitched with rhinestones. Silence sat between Nate and I as the pair passed until I figured that at least the woman was out of earshot… “God Save the Queen!” I chirp. Nate immediately laughed and added “poor furry bastard musta fallen asleep on a belt sander.” I double over laughing and grab us each a fresh beer from under the bench we sat on while I was slouched over.
We were getting silly, and I suppose a little drunk. We were blissed out and having a grand ol time in the shade of the old porch. Nate was glowing and I could tell the gears were turning in his head. “Man, life is like a movie from this porch I tell you,” Nate said letting his thoughts start to flow. “See check this out… a perfect example of what I’m talking about” he said gesturing excitedly to the street with his beer hand. I look up and see a young kid riding a unicycle and holding a controller for an RC car he was driving in front of him. And if that wasn’t enough to tickle me on its own, the RC car he was controlling was a miniature Ford Bronco, remarkably similar to what Nate had driven over in. “You just can’t write this stuff,” he exclaimed. “Seriously, I mean when have you ever seen something like that in your life?… and here we are, just shootin the breeze and this parade comes through like it was meant for us alone to see.” I took his point immediately and realized that he has touched upon a sentiment that I had felt many times before on this porch. It was a wonderful little perch – we sat detached from the world we observed before us, watching the rest of humanity live out the fine print of life.