Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I am at the vertex. The endpoint. That is, the intersection of the angle.

Or perhaps I should call it the startpoint, since the two "rays" emanating in splayed directions are of my flesh. My son and daughter both left Evanston yesterday, to different compass points, both literal and figurative.

One traveled east, one northwest, so the hypotenuse of this triangle (were it not obtuse) would cross Lake Michigan like a ferry, taking the watery shortcut to avoid that long drive through Chicago along I-94.

It’s a shortcut the three of us (plus husband) once took, sailing from Wisconsin to Michigan, letting the wind whip through our hair on the deck of the Badger before debarking for the sandy campsite in Ludington State Park.

But Meredith left by land, at night, in a friend’s parents’ Lexus SUV with a black leather interior for the Ten Thousand Lakes music festival in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. The irony of driving a luxury vehicle to a faux Woodstock likely didn’t register with her carload of friends, so accustomed are they to comfort. They will camp in the woods, afloat in music and greenery.

Wesley and a friend took a bus east to what once was the city of Detroit, to help a pioneering architect build a house in what once was a neighborhood at Pierce and St. Aubin. It is hardly a city, hardly a neighborhood, anymore. They are erecting what will be the 5th house in two square blocks. Across the street is a whore house. Across the street is a crack house. They are different houses. Someone has broken into the shed where they keep their building materials, poisoning the water supply. They are camping in an abandoned apartment building which was filmed for the movie 8 Mile. One of the other squatters claims to have invented Techno Music, and who’s to say he didn’t?

Back here in Evanston, kids gone and my husband napping, I have the family computer to myself. I unpack the ipod I got for my birthday. Ipod rhymes with god, and I've noticed that's the way apple treats it in the literature. Never "the" ipod, only "ipod", as if it is omnipotent, not in need of an article to denote specificity. And now that I finally open the box, and inject music into this deity, I know why.

I spend hours worshipping: loading it with the songs that I don’t think my children already have—Gato Barbieri and Eddie Vetter. I drag myself to bed reluctantly, only stopping because the music isn’t free. I sleep deeply until a fury of crashing and scraping rattles me awake. Above my head, roofers are shoveling off the old roof tiles that were nailed there 16 years before, when Meredith was 2 and Wes was 6 and we were rebuilding our house after a fire.

Here at the vertex, I throw on clothes and strap on ipod to walk the dog—the only child remaining at home. We three are in the middle, ipod, dog and me: music and vernal camping to the northwest; techno and urban squatting to the east.

We are the endpoint, or the startpoint. We walk together, the routes I once pushed a stroller. Or rather, I bop to Toad the Wet Sprocket, dog trots and ipod rides my pocket. Later, my children will call me at work. Right now I follow the sidewalks, explore the alleys and register their absence. I scratch the dog's ears and he laps at my hand. Ipod sings and dog pants. It’s an old, sentimental observation: dog is the mirror image of god.

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