25 June 2013 (out of order)

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

Yesterday at work I was thinking about that plump little stranger in the video—Enzo just turned three. And about him now, when he first wakes up, how he climbs into my lap and pulls his legs up and sits sideways, mostly quiet, and I feel this spine and shoulder blades through the thin white t-shirt, his boney shoulder against my chest. His arms and legs are strong, wiry, brown. Such a grown up boy.

One of the great things about kids is how present they are. They’re all here and they’re all now. They have this inexhaustible freshness. (That’s why they’re so god damn exhausting to be around.) But the past so quickly becomes remote. It’s over, it’s nowhere.

By they way, it’s raining and lovely, just starting to get light. Rain in June. Glory be.


One of the things I like about working is all the short, friendly exchanges you have through the day. It cheers me up. One of the regular conversations I have is with the custodian who comes in the morning to empty my trash. He always walks in and says, “My favorite office!” (I’ve banished all the dreadful state furniture and put in my own standing up desk.)

Last Monday we talked about what we did over the weekend. He painted the front of his house. We talked about how good it feels to decide to do something, and then do it, and then stand back, and there it is, done! What color? Beige. For the best. No dark colors in this Sacramento heat.

So yesterday I asked how his weekend was, did he get any more done on his house? And he said not so good. His cancer came back. Oh no. On Saturday he smelled a chemical smell that kind of reminded him of his cancer, so he went to the doctor and they put him on a bag for a couple of hours. And he got so bored he just wanted to squeeze the bag and get the medicine in faster. And they told him afterwards not to do anything for twenty-four hours. “But I can’t do that,” he said, “No one can do that.”

“It would have to happen on a weekend.”

“But it’s all right. It’s all right. The cancer went away.”

Afterward I was puzzled. If it really was cancer, how could one bag of IV fluid anything make it all right? But what struck me was that the conversation cheered me up as much as ever. Just shows what friendliness is worth.

But really, it’s worth a lot. Most of life ranges between shitty and boring with a few runs of good luck in between. We should all try to encourage one another. I heard on the radio that optimism is contagious. And so is pessimism.