My mom sent a New Yorker clipping of an article on couch surfing. Here’s what happens: you join an organization of couch surfers and you’re given a list of places where you can spend a night on someone’s couch. At no charge.
I tell her that not only had I already read that same piece (with amusement), but, in fact, Ed has been talking of couch surfing, house swapping and all things similar for years now. I've listened to him, but without great enthusiasm. My response to him has been -- There’s no free lunch! You’ll be reading a book and I’ll be left to make idle conversation with the lonely people of this world (by which I mean the hosts: why else would you otherwise put up with random strangers on your couch...). No thank you.
Today, Ed is at it again. He’s showing me another site – campinmygarden.com. The idea is the same, except you don’t stay on a couch, you pitch a tent, with access to bathrooms, sometimes kitchens, always with a beguiling green space for your overnight respite.
Here’s one in Italy! You like Italy! He brings up a link to someone’s beautiful garden, overlooking hills and olive groves. At about $15 per person it’s not exactly free, but nor is it up there with summer room rentals.
Next year maybe, I tell him, figuring that by then I’ll probably be in a wheelchair or otherwise incapacitated and he’ll have to reconsider. “Next year” has always felt, for me, like a long time away.
Ed counters -- When I finish building the writer’s shed, we could reciprocate. Have people stay there if they want to come to Madison, or go kayaking on the lakes.
I see where this is heading. I’m quickly becoming a b&b proprietor, only without the benefits of – well, income, for one thing.
I shake my head and say nothing more. Time is always on my side. Ed doesn’t finish projects quickly. There’s still a dormer of the farmhouse that is pinkish brown instead of Caribbean yellow.
It was a cold Saturday. Ed and I filled cupboards with Woodman’s groceries. He noted that I wasn’t smiling much. He was right.
Even so, I have never known Ed to lay claim on me, my mood, my preoccupations. He has never objected to days like this – when I spend a significant chunk of time trying to ascertain how someone else, not him, but someone else is getting along. If I had to scoot down to help a person from my past, he’d help me figure out how best to do it.
Later in the day, Ed and I sit at the lemon-draped kitchen table and I tell him -- thank you. And, too, for letting me do what I have to do, for letting me write about him, here on Ocean. Ed has had to adjust from being a completely private guy, more so than perhaps anyone else I know, to being part of my story here.
He munches his prepared by me peanut butter sandwich and says – don’t you think these are all small things? What you said, whom you described on Ocean – when we’re dead and gone, will it make anything worse for anyone? No? Then stop fretting and write what you want to write.
Out of eight years of blogging, only three times have I agreed to reword a post upon someone’s request. I did it earlier today. I’m thinking unless I make a gross error or cause someone great harm, I’ll never do that again.