Night Water

The term ‘moving’ describes so little, particularly in my case. Yes, recently I have shifted domiciles. In leaving one apartment of 22 years for a larger and shared home marks a considerable change. Moving from a benign suburban to a buzzing city marks something else. But the strangest sensation has to do with the sense of pioneering.

We are camping in our San Francisco home. I look at the beautiful tile in the bathroom shower and temporarily forget that on the floor above me an entire room still has paper on the floor, wires dangling out of the walls…and I literally cannot get in the front door of the house, not without some help. The lock is too hard to turn, the door too hard to push. All will be ready in good time. Meanwhile, is this a good time? It would be a better time if I could find a belt for my trousers. But never mind. Even unbelted, life is good. It is certainly rich.

Having sung in the Menlo Park Chorus for 15 years, saying goodbye to the experience was bittersweet. For me, there was no bitter in the the Vivaldi Gloria, which we hammered out quite effectively on Saturday night. Nothing really frightened me about the day more than the drive home, truth to tell. But as with so many things, this was only in anticipation. In reality, I sped up the 101 motorway, backed into a parking space right in front of my home. And Robert’s your avuncular person.

Oh, I was a little charged after an evening of Vivaldi and hyper oxygenation. But once extracted from my suit, having downed some chamomile tea, sleep was welcome. Odd that Jane would have the upstairs dishwasher on so late at night. Even stranger that the thing would drain so noisily, its gurgle and watery rush so loud. Four years of life in an 18th-century London house must have prepared me for this moment. No, that’s nonsense. And it’s 2 AM, and now I’m fully awake and realizing what is really happening.

This house is full of electronic taps, water faucets designed for general ease-of-use, particularly for quadriplegic convenience. The one in the kitchen doesn’t work. The one in the adjacent bathroom does. The one just outside our bedroom in the hallway…a small sink and counter design for making tea downstairs…that one was thought to be working. But now it is cyclically turning itself off and on. The water sounds that have filtered through my dreams come from this faulty device.

What can I do but tell my sleeping wife? My efforts at remedying the situation would be gallant but useless. Here in California we are in a staggering drought. Water cannot be allowed to run this way. Jane turns on lights. She pokes under the hallway sink. Our beautiful built-in drawers make it impossible now to reach the master valve below. Jane finds a dangling wire, pulls it, and the problem stops. It is 2:30 AM.

At 2:35 I’m thinking about an old film with Danny Kaye, probably from the 1950s, in which he has a slapstick struggle with a convertible roof of some sports car…the thing rising up, then coming down, folding him into it. And maybe 10 years later another film with Jacques Tati, all about more low-keyed and subtle encounters with escalators, revolving doors, pushbutton this and that. People laughing at postwar modernity and convenience and gadgetry and, my God, it’s 3:30 AM. I need to get back to sleep. Unfortunately, I’m awake now and thinking about the automatic faucet and its implications. Now it’s 3:45, and the implications haven’t changed. It has been like this, ever since our move, too much that is strange and new.

A new lease on life, I am thinking at age 68. I never asked for it. I certainly didn’t expect it. And despite the lack of sleep, I am right with it, going with the turbulent flow.night water

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