when i was 4 and we started saying "only happy happy thoughts in the new big house" i almost immediately stumbled across the back porch and stood in awe at the world around me. there was green and space for sheeba to run in and childrens laughs came in beautiful waves of the sounds of christmas. tiny bells. there was also a man across the ally (which just so happens to be the exact border of pittsburgh, i am proud i am proud) who played the banjo all summer on his back deck. this place was never quite suburban so the wood was weathered and almost always looked wet but his plucking was soothing and precise and the closeness of the houses gave it a slight echo and i knew i was home and my mouth would hang slightly agape and my breath would slow a bit and i wasn't afraid. this was also where we kept the kitten i brought home who had orange stripes and was gnarled. one of her eyes was swollen shut and she had ear mites and her fur was matted together but she purred and she cocked her head at the perfect time for my parents so they said yes. we already had figaro so we had to keep cleo out there until her feline leukemia test results came back. i buried her almost two years ago and i remember taking her to the vet only 5 or 6 days after i had returned from baltimore broken-hearted and only one day after my grandmother getting pneumonia (for the 7th or 8th time that year)and worsening in the hospital. they shaved her leg and i tried to shut her eyes but they wouldn't close and by the time i was pulling out of the parking lot with my mother our tear soaked cheeks were colored and we we crying but also laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the situation.
i think i may be leaving this space for the last time very soon so tonight i smoked on the back porch and he must have been having nightmares and gone out to lightly pluck on his strings because it must sooth him even more than it soothes me. so i smoked and he played and my dad built a new porch but it still felt exactly the same.