Orcas Island, November, 2019

09 November 2019

We're in a midcentury home with a clear 270 degree view of the San Juan Islands. The chair I sit in is overstuffed and comfortable, white, flanked by antique coffee tables free of dust. The flooring is immaculate oak. The pseudo-vintage look of the triplicate couches in the living room give a hint of nostalgia for someone else's past, but they are brand new and packed tight, affording little room to walk. The work of set dressers, colored the lightest shade of bruise.

Steve Reich did a tape piece called Come Out. A young black man wrongly accused of murder has to prove he was beaten in jail. "I had to, like, open the bruise up, and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them." (Come out to show themCome out to show themCome out to show themCome out to show themcomeout comeout comeout comeooutomomtomtoutotutoutot)

This is the soundtrack.

The smell hit us like a wall when we walked in. Grandma Boo's house. Some combination of cleaning product, perfume, soap, sweat, skin, still air. Meant to comfort but pulled me back to a conflicted youth where I was pulled in two: please and interact with the adults as groomed vs kick a hole in the wall and burn the fucker down.

The culprits were located and banished to the back deck. They took the form of two small vases containing yellow and black goop, sticks stuck in to wick the sick smell up and into the air. No one had been in here for at least a week, heat cranked to 80 and sealed for no one's pleasure. An oddly stanky old place.

The expression of the owner's (how many are there? a committee?) is a smear of antique furniture from china and japan ----<<<[[[THE ORIENT]]]>>>----.. Sad plates that are deemed worthy of hanging on walls in elaborate patterns around decorative mirrors–only phantasms and guests at boring showers for the rich look into.

Hidden in the room lousy with mass market hardcover fiction is a corner pocket with 40 years of photo albums. Evidence within clearly states this place was bought raw and turned into the tomb it has become with will and focus. Plate placement and couch configuration are captured here should there be a need to delouse it of antiques during uncle Preston's 85th. The third book open is a bunch of commisioned family portaiture–complacent, controlled low f-stops of parents dressed in white and apparently not unhappy. Kids at the age where dressing up is a chore and a limitation of spirit. The last five pages focus on the kids separately, and contain all of the throwaways.

The real spirit comes out of the 5-year-old as she leans across the fence, leaning forward towards the camera, eyes and nose the only thing in focus. Get me out of this outfit and out of this photo shoot. Last beat in the book - maybe you see this coming dear reader - is one true feeling: the two kids with the dog, a jumping blur that looks like a dog. The one not awkward photo in the bunch.

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