I sat down at the bar at Hunter Gather alone. People talk there. One time, I was telling some guy a story. He stopped me mid story and said, “You’re that guy who gets up at 4:30 makes gardens all day, then eats lentils and goes to bed.”
How do you respond to that? I do love lentils, I do make gardens. But seriously, 4:30 am? And ontop of all that, it’s weird for a stranger to know intimate details about your diet and sleep patterns.
He went on,
“My buddy Jay is doing some work for you down there. He’s really proud of it but yeah, no offence, that’s exactly how he described you.”
Ok. What now I’m more confused because Jay is my buddy. Not his. Jay practically moved in with me when he was 22 or so. Lost, fallen head over heals in love with my stunning housemate. One of the benefits of having beautiful, talented young women live with you is that they attract beautiful, talented young men.
That’s a long intro to tell you that this tall, skinny, hard drinking man was an absolute artist with stone. Beyond compare. Seriously. And trust me, I can’t make stone but I’ve traveled to gardens around the world and I’ve seen some spectacular garden stonework. Jay got stone. I could say, “Jay, let’s make a patio that swirls around like this” and swirl my arms. Or “Let’s make it like a patio with a river running through it like this” and sketch a flowing line on the ground.
Old Jay would look down at the ground,
“You know it’s hard to make rectangular bricks and geometrical stone swirl. You know, there’s some stuff stone just doesn’t seem like it want to do. You know the terms, stone cold, stone hard….”
Then, he’d have a beer or two or twelve, he’d start thinking and talking. He’d go on and on about some patio he’d seen in Spain where the bricks swirled and there was a book he’d look for that might have something like that. He’d go on until I was worn out and I said ‘Just think about it. It’d be pretty if it was all swirly and Good Night”
I’d eat my lentils and the next morning when I woke up, there’d be a little drawing and a plan for how to make it happen on the table. And sometimes, old Jay, during his night time drawing and scheming and planning would write a little poem and leave it out for me too. A poem. I saved them. He’d be embarrassed.
So I’d try to say something really nice and sweet and personal. Jay would put his head down. He’s say something sweet too, but brief, kind a like oh shucks but,
“‘I just think a lot of you man and I want to make you stone dreams come true.”
And we did that. Over and over and we made the most beautiful gardens. And one day, one hot day when summer was coming on so all the plants looked a little silvery and dry, we worked all day digging an 1,800 foot trench, three feet deep. Me, Sam, Tom, Jay and I. And he was sitting on this couch, this very couch that is now in the back of my truck, when I said Good Night. But that night, I added, ‘Call me if you need me, I’m just right upstairs, ” cause I knew he wasn’t right. And that night, I did get up at 4:30 a.m.. And I knew when I walked into the room that wasn’t a drunk slump. I knew I’d miss him more than any body, in every way, in every aspect of my life; driving, cooking, arguing, singing, writing, garden making, singing, reading, especially reading, he introduced me to so much great literature. Fuck I can’t stop listing ways I miss him and I can’t write some of them cause when you’re that close with somebody, things just sound weird.
Yall know what I mean. Yall know things that you’ll never share again.
Tomorrow, when we pick up that couch with it’s new upholstery I’m going to be really happy that we got it recovered in a fabric that is the color of Tennessee Crab orchard stone.That was his favorite. We even went to Crab Orchard one time. I don’t know how many years ago; a stone road trip. I don’t know how many years later, I just know I’m going to cry.