Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Roofs: Narrative Non Fiction

I think I have completed the first draft of another narrative non fiction piece that I started a bit over a year ago. I am really loving this genre! Oh, how nice to have a few publications I know are coming out this academic year so I can spend my writing time on some of this creative work. The value of daily writing!!

As with the others, I think I am going to be able to use this one in an autoethnography, so it should make it into academic work sooner or later. Lets share it now, for comment, reflection, appreciation, criticism, scorn or????? Again its a draft :).


On our walks, I look at roofs. To the left, a tidy-yard yellow craftsman: it has a thirty year roof. I have learned to distinguish; thirty year roofs have shorter square tiles interspersed with longer rectangular ones, and rows that align not with the row directly above or below it, but with the one above that. They appear layered, almost like hands placed over hands at a summer picnic ice breaker event at a camp for special needs children in upstate New York.

Next to it, one of twenty years. Perhaps nobody communicated this essential detail of longevity to the haggard, middle aged, red-faced, flat titled pauper. It must have been laid in the 70s, and more tiles are pocked or chipped than there are those that are intact. I don’t know how badly he leaks, but he seems to be trying, slugging it out, day after day.

Who decides on the duration of a roof?

This dog that I walk is three years old. I call her a three year old dog, as that is her current age. But if she were a roof, how old of a roof would she be? Five year roof? Fifteen year old roof?

I save this question for later, and keep walking. This is our first one in two weeks; I have been traveling. She has perhaps only been on two or three since I left; she is out of shape, and with the heat pushing 90, this will be a short one.

A little blond girl of about three, in slightly lopsided pigtails runs toward us a few feet from her father.
“make sure to ask if she is a nice dog first!”

The girl is three years old, but if she were a roof, what age would she be? Four, forty, eighty? She is not a roof, so her father, loving and patient, in his 30s with shaved bald head, will be spared from the tragedy of clairvoyance.

But to actually know?

The little girl, as small as she is, still has to bend low to pet my little one. As usual, she twists onto her back and throws her legs into the air for more efficient access to the belly. The man pets her too, his fingers having slightly more hair than his head. His fingers are scarred, from work, but the fronts of his hands unified and clean in their whiteness.

On the plane home late last night, I noticed the increasing number of colored spots on my hands. I have now developed, I think they are called, liver spots. The largest rests slightly to the left side of the center of my hand; it grows in its discolored ways next to a slightly protruding blue vein the shape of a inverted jay, next to a small scare in the shape of a tooth.

I am bothered that most roofs are designated for 20 or 30 years. A roof should outlive the person that puts it on. And given that in a few week, I will be a 49 year old man, my five years since laid, 30 year roof may or may not do the trick.

Back from our walk, she lay by my feet on the orange leather ottoman purchased at the Nebraska Furniture Outlet, the world's largest furniture store, they say,  ten year ago. Four dogs have slept on this ottoman; now she is the only one. Five year dog, ten year dog, or 15 year dog? Back home, I can consider it, alone, I let the snot drip on my long sleeve of my university t-shirt.

Tomorrow is my 13 wedding anniversary. 13 year marriage? 20 year marriage? 30?

To these questions, I want to know as badly as I don’t. But each day, we walk, and I assess the roofs, rooting for that 20 year old overachiever, hoping hoping hoping.

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