It’s the usual “Talk?” text–and since I had a minute yesterday–I called and headed for a place on the back porch to chat.
Still in his bathrobe, Peter tells me he just put another log on the fire. I listen, but my attention’s also on the hovering hummingbird dropping noticeable lines of urine/feces. I’m picking up details of a comic Peter read in this morning’s paper while curious if the hummer’s poop will be noticeable on the deck railing.
“I’m heading south in a couple of days.” To his second home in Venice Beach, where he goes when the weather turns. “Are you taking your bus?” I met him in 2012 when he lived on it. At that time, he could still drive on his own.
“No, Susanna will drive her car.” For the past two years, his neck and heart issues have kept the bus parked on the northern California property.
“Get out of here!” I’m up and shooing the chicken from the area, not wanting to clean any more than I have to before our guests arrive.
My chicken sparks his experience with chickens and how four regularly wander his yard. “I was in the outside shower, and this rooster gave me a funny look. ‘What?’ I told him. ‘You never see someone shower before.’ ” But then, he tells me, only two came around for a while and he saw an abundance of feathers that made him confident an animal had eaten them. Then all four showed up again. Did the neighbor buy more? He didn’t know.
Speaking of the neighbor, he has beef with her.
In early covid, everything was fine; his girlfriend would go over and share a glass of wine. But not now. If you knew Peter, you’d know that the woman having a life-size cardboard cutout of Trump and being a “Trumpy” are strong strikes against her.
“And I told her NEVER to call 911!” How he rolls his r’s when he’s angry in his German accent is so Peter.
I’m listening more intently now, not realizing he is against life-saving measures. But, I’m soon soothed. It makes sense–police, authorities, ambulance, all the intrusion and chaos of it–isn’t who he is at the core. He’s a lone wolf and is the epitome of dancing to his own beat. Speaking of: his stories of leading a large drum circle on Venice Beach are some of his best.
He talks of cars, the ins and outs of their prices, as though he were playing a game of chess. As a long-time owner of a car lot on Sunset Strip, he sold cars to Marvin Gaye, among others, and prides himself on “doing things right.”
Then he dips into uncertainty and fear of the future. “You remember the white van. Was it here when you visited?” I tell him it was. “I’m selling it. And the Mercedes. I have no use for all this stuff anymore.”
The decline in his health and agency concerns him, and it does me too.
It’s hard being Peter’s friend. “It’d be good to get a visit on. You know. Before we can’t.” I agree, but I have a sulking feeling it won’t happen. That it’s been nine years since we’ve seen each other blows my mind.
I worry (and know) the day will come when the text reminder of our “8:30” coffee chat time won’t come.
Maybe I’ll see if Dave wants to drive to Humboldt County for a visit in the spring. There’s a lovely farmer’s market with people hula hooping, blankets on the grass, and live music we could go to too.
I text Peter earlier today to share my thought. “That’s a really good idea.”
I think so too.
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