Ants crawl out from the ornate metal overflow drain-hole up to the marble edge out of the sink. They travel down its antique pedestal across the plank floor, and form a single file line from pedestal to muddy gardening shoe laying just a few feet away.
In 1892, the floor was built in this house for one of the twenty Quaker families that had migrated to Pasadena from Pennsylvania. Friends meetings were sometimes held here before they constructed the Meeting House up the street. Human voices quieted. Nothing to be heard but the soft brushing of worn leather soles against wood. Friends seeking the light within, sat on benches at these communal gatherings. I sit on a single seat.
This old oak floor had provided a platform for the ants to journey, year after year. An ant had to exercise extreme caution by keeping in line along the thick baseboards to avoid being stepped on by the crowd. On this Sunday, the only worshipper these ants need fear is me. While I sit on the john contemplating my garden shoes.
It stopped raining after three days, a perfect time to get the seeds into the ground. There’s no time to change clothes. I’ve got to plant while the planting is good.
My gardening shoes were not gardening shoes. These were shoes that had fallen from grace. The muddy heap of shredded black and brown were once shiny black leather pumps injected with confidence. My work shoes, foundations for springing into action. They had taken me places.
The day after I lost my job, I began thinking of my unemployment as the wonderful opportunity my co-workers told me it would be. For the first time in twenty years, I’d be able to do the things that I rarely had time to do; spend time with my children, write the novel, grow my own tomatoes. Here was my chance to fulfill the need to explore my inner self and the world outside of corporate slavery.
I watch the ants march past the gardening shoes, up the stack of newspapers by the tub. Carefully and with great solemnity, the ants climb each stair of print as if ascending the Spanish Steps on a first trip to Rome. Will the first sight of expanse of tub give them pause? Will they be as awestruck as I would be upon seeing the Colliseum? Will the ants be as silently exuberant as the Quaker Friends were when they gazed out at the beautiful Rancho San Pasqual from the front porch of this house on Galena Street?
© Copyright 2010 Dianne Patrizzi. All rights reserved.
Dianne Patrizzi aka Patrizzi Intergalactica, aka Miss Havisham, aka Havisham Patrizzi has been a blogger since early 2002. She has had many incarnations. After losing her entire portfolio in a wildfire in 2003, she has been on the road to recovery, bit by bit. She lives in Pasadena, California with her kittten Inigo Montoya Frederico Garcia Lorca. She hopes to be able to find her rightful place in this world after much trial and tribulation. Her oil paintings are somewhat psychedelic. Her fashion design and construction is quite retro 1930s. She loves to write plays and produce podcasts and is always happy to jump in to any production or performance.
9 thoughts on “Some Thoughts of a Non-custodial Parent While Sitting on the John, 20 Years Later by Dianne Patrizzi”
And the portfolio is being well-provisioned with this descriptive, contemplative piece. Nicely done.
Very lyrical. Very sad. And the bio is a beautiful piece of narrative as well.
I thought so, as well! Beautiful prose, very descriptive, I really felt the age of the house spoken of. Bravo!
We need more from Dianne, please.
Waiting breathlessly for the novel… Beautifully written Dianne!
This writing thing is fun, and you are all so sweet. Really. Your thoughts mean a lot to me. Thank you.
you write like a painter: details, shifting space and subtle layering
Love the shift to different times and perspectives . . . all while on the john! I think we all can relate.
This is very fine writing. Sweet and smooth, as raw silk.
I smell and taste every inch of that plank floor. There is thick ethos here.
The sense I appeal to is deep and ethereal. For, I am one of those ants.
Climbing those stairs, reaching for the largess of the coliseum,
that is my chalice.