It’s raining again, and this time it’s getting to me. The sun shines, but then it doesn’t. Here, then gone. Like a rising fish in that corner pool, dark and swirling. You know it’s there because it just sipped the surface, but where did it go now? The sun is like this, too. Here, then gone. Customers complain. It’s too humid here, they say. I’m going to another lake, somewhere far from this place, far from low pressure systems, they threaten. At times, I see their point. I agree with them. I think of the possibilities.
I’ve been to broker events in recent years. Big events in big cities. The sort of events that you have to be invited to because people think you’re something. People think you could be more. I’ve met enough of these other agents, the ones from big cities near oceans and nestled in mountains, to know that my competition is roundly unimpressive. I could go there and sell, I think. The mountains, it’s always dry there. The ocean, the breeze always drifts. The waves lap, like the noise app on my iPhone. The breeze blows and the waves lap and in the mountains the only sound you hear is nothing at all. High pressure sounds like that. Maybe I should finish dusting myself off and leave this place, to another place. My wife would go, I think. My kids have no say in the matter. High pressure, here we come. The agents in those towns will have to start blogging more, or at least hold more open houses.
On my desk there’s a note from my daughter. It says Love U Dad! Have a great day/night. – May. It’s sweet, really. My wife wouldn’t leave me a note like that, but my daughter is 13 and she’s sweet and when I told her this morning that we had to go deliver magazines she hid in the bathroom hoping I’d change my mind, or at least leave without her. I sat in the driveway and honked the horn, a bit of payback for my nocturnal neighbors that light off fireworks as if their very lives depend on it. If this M80 doesn’t rattle the Curry’s windows, then we’re all going to die. I imagine they say this. But I didn’t leave and my daughter came to the car after an exaggerated delay, the tears still fresh in her eyes. I told her if she could make a tear run down her cheek and off of her chin and land on her knee then we could turn around and sit at home. She tried to make those tears drop but she couldn’t, and she laughed and we listened to Third Eye Blind on the way to Lake Geneva. This guy is terrible, she said. The lyrics are terrible and his voice is terrible.
But here I am, sitting at this desk on a Sunday night. I’m 41 now, hardly a kid but hardly an adult. And I’m thinking about these rain clouds. A friend of mine has mud in his yard tonight. It’s not the worst thing that could happen, but you’d be forgiven if you thought it is. The worst. The absolute worst. Rain again, and it just rained yesterday. And the day before. If I’m playing spoiler, then you should know it’ll probably rain again tomorrow. It’s like that here sometimes. It rains and it’s uncomfortable. If it were 77 and sunny each day with low dew points we could make a fortune selling real estate. My dad would tell you I’ve already made a fortune selling real estate. Just ask him. Too much money, he’ll say. But he doesn’t go to broker events with city brokers who would leap from the tallest building if they woke up to find their production in line with mine. It’s almost 8 pm now and my dad is sleeping. The rain is coming and in the mountains it’s dry. There’s a guy there who sells real estate and writes a blog and sends me emails once in a while to tell me what’s happening in the valley. It’s a terrible blog and an equally terrible email. Dreadful, mind numbingly stupid. I could move there and write about the mountains. Look everyone, it’s sunny again and the mountains are still tall. I’d say this and set my flat brim hat atop my long hair and everything would be fine.
But I drive. I drive through this town, down the main street. I hate the power lines that hang over the cracked sidewalks. I hate the repair shops and gas stations that litter my main street. I hate the vacant corner lot that used to be a coffee shop that I once walked to with my dad. I was younger then and my dad didn’t care how much money I made or didn’t make. I hate the centennial flags that hang from the ugly power poles. The design is wrong, faint, unimpressive and largely unreadable. There’s a patio down the road where dinner is served. The best dish is the crusted filet, and I don’t even like filet. I can’t drive by there and not think about the time I crashed my car looking towards the patio, hoping one of the owners pretty daughters were out. It wasn’t really a crash as much as it was a nudge from the hood of my Saab 900 into the bumper of the car in front of me. The Saab was gray and it wasn’t even a turbo, so it didn’t matter.
I used to mow that lawn. And the lawn of the restaurant across the street, too. My friend Eric helped me, worked for me, really. He once wrote down his hours for the week with illustrations and commentary and it was funny, so I kept it. It’s in my office tonight as I write. I’d mow in the middle of the morning, after my dad woke me up with a promise that it was soon to rain. Someday, my dad will die. I don’t look forward to that day. I’ll write a book about him then, and I already know the title. Sunny With A Chance Of Rain. Down the road to the north, the apartment building that Clem owned. I mowed that lawn, too. And in the afternoons I’d cut close to the juniper bushes and the berries would fall onto the top of my tractor’s muffler. The berries would hop and pop and burst on that hot lid, and I’d smell their liquid as it burned. When I drive by there now, I still smell it.
Around the corner I’d drive past the old Feeny house, but not before I passed where Frank lived. I used to want to buy his house, and one day when I was sitting with him his son came in and told me to get out. He was angry. I was 18 and busy going about the wrong way to build wealth. I thought I should buy old houses and fix them up when what I should have been doing was studying for my ACT. Hindsight showed me that. He threatened me with some form of bodily harm and so I never talked to his old man again. The old man is dead now, and I wouldn’t buy the house if they begged me. Turn left and back to the main street and you’ll find my friend Kalen’s old house. He’s doing well now, living in the south. Facebook told me. For no real reason, I’m proud of him, though I’ve never told him that because I haven’t had a chance to speak to him in decades. To the West some more the house of the son who owned the apartment building. That house had a wood foundation my dad would say. I never really understood how that might have worked, but it didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now. If you drive east from there you can’t help but see the old grade school where I spent considerable time in the hallway during sixth grade. The administrator once pulled me out of gym class to tell me that I had an attitude problem, his face strained and his index finger pushing into my chest harder with each syllable, to drive the point home. My attitude hasn’t changed very much since that day.
The flags on my office lawn are blowing now. I put them there last night after I mowed the lawn, dripping in sweat, after a long day of showing houses to people who may or may not want to buy anything. My son helped push the flags into the ground. As long as I fill the Superjet with gas he’ll help me without concern. So we gave the lawn an approving nod and drove home, those few miles up the hill and past where Mrs. Kudrna lived. She told a story of the ghost with the bloody finger, and I believed every word she said. She’d shake that finger at me, and at the classes that came before and the classes that followed.
There are days I think of different things. Of different places. But then I drive past that corner in Cedar Point where the Moores lived by the Welshes, near the Hayes house and across from the Knights and just down the road from the Connelly’s and on winter days we’d grab shovels and walk the neighborhood hoping someone would pay us $5 to shovel their snow. I think about sledding down those parkway hills and walking home with wet hands and feet and cold cheeks. I think about sneaking around on association piers casting little jigs to hungry spring smallmouth and I realize that I’m not going anywhere. I’m just a kid from Williams Bay, that’s all I’m ever going to be, and that’s just fine by me.