THE LAWN MOWERS.
I READ THAT GRASS GROWS AN INCH A WEEK IN THE NORTHEAST and so the neighbors mow once a week. Then they edge, weed wack, then they blow. Some are more finicky than others, I can see them from my bedroom window. Some wear expressions of an artist, intensely serious and meticulous, others mow in business suits on motorized stand-up mowers, and some mow with a visible resentment, an overly redundant but necessary chore in the Northeast.
I don’t mow, I hired a couple, Matt and Jessica. Matt mows with his legs wide apart, no gloves or sunglasses, no earplugs, and Jessica blows. She wears the blower mechanism on her back, her long tanned naturally sculpted arms maneuvering as if she was vacuuming the living room rug. I wait until they have almost finished to greet them on the porch.
” Life sucks,” Matt calls out to me with the motor still running.
” Yes, it does. What’s happened?”
” My daughter got into a car accident on prom night, seven thousand dollars later. He wipes his forehead of sweat.”
” Is she alright?”
“Another driver crashed into them. How’s it look, nice right?”
I invited them into the house, for a look at the furnishings I’m selling.”
” Wow, you love music and vinyl! I do too. Is that Mick Jagger in the photograph?”
I took that on to ruminate about my former Santa Fe Gallery of the music photography of the sixties, the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Beatles, and as soon as my boasting sounded halfway boring, I shut up. I really don’t think my past is important to anyone but me unless they are photographers. I used to sneer at people who only talked about what they used to do. How life revisits you at sixty-something when the bragging projects have ceased.
” You own the house?”
” Half owner?”
” Where’s your other half?”
” Missing in action. It’s all up to me now.”
” That sucks. Listen, if you ever need advice about the Northeast, call me– I know everyone. You lived in Santa Fe right?”
” Yes, eleven years.”
” I hear it’s beautiful.”
” Well, it is, and it was, but I’m here now.”
” You going back? I mean why the hell stay here?”
” Maybe? I just don’t know.” Jessica tilted her head as women do when they see a falling sister.
” Okay, I like you, you’re a nice lady. We’re friends now.”
” Are we good enough friends that I postdate the check for three days?”
” Hell yes! I don’t need the money. Don’t even worry.” I walked into the music room and picked up a double album of Janis, still in the cover.
” You like Janis?”
They both said oh my God I love her. I gave them the album. That’s what friends do, reciprocate.
Matt and Jessica come every two or three weeks because I love grass. The wind blows it, the curve of it when it bends, just like I love long hair. One time I greeted them in my interview outfit, you know, buttons and high heels. Matt said something like, “Lose the scarf and fit in, or they will charge you double.”
If I knew how to manage the Northeast weather, sensibility and had a big family, I’d adopt a cat and get a New York drivers license.