The Surprise

I’d been staying in the city for days and days, in my friends’ son’s room, with it’s narrow bed and wacky sunglasses by the stereo. I’d kept my suitcase, filled with two pairs of jeans, a few long-sleeved T-shirts, socks and underwear, on the closet floor so it didn’t look to anyone like I was living out of a suitcase—so it didn’t look like I was freeloading. So when I opened my eyes the other day and discovered that I was home, in my own bed in East Marion—the light pouring in through trees, the only sound the wind and the birds, no one else in the house—I was, simply, surprised. Surprised, that is, and very, very, very happy.

If we’re lucky, we get to choose our home. We get to choose, within reason, our sheets and our comforter covers and the smell of the laundry soap we use. We get to choose whether or not to cover our windows and how hot or cold we want our room to be during the night. We get to choose the kind of bread we like, the fat content of the milk, the channel of the radio, and whether or not to watch TV (or not have a TV at all). We get to choose who we talk to at night before bed, and what we do, and what we don’t do. What unbelievable freedom.

The next morning—the one after the morning when I woke up at home—I was awakened, still at home, at 6:30 AM, by the sound of my phone. I keep it on at night in case Maud calls; I think I’ll always feel a little nervous about her out there in the world, a little (a lot) responsible. Anyway, my phone said, “Blocked,” so I didn’t pick it up, but I must have pressed the wrong button because I heard a man’s voice saying, “Hello? Hello?” by my ear. He sounded young. He sounded a little dull. I pushed the off button.

The phone rang again a minute later, also with the message that it was a blocked call. Knowing it was that guy, and not someone I knew calling with bad news, I picked it up. “Hello?” I said, and he said, immediately, in that same dull voice, “Is nine-and-a-half-inches big enough for you?” I hung up.

You see, there’s no predicting. There’s no controlling. It’s all one big rat fuck rolled together with some really nice times. Nine-and-a-half inches? Rhonestly. All I wanted was a little more sleep, and then maybe a coffee in the silence.


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