In late May my sister calls. Her son Maurice is being sentenced in Kansas City on June twenty-third. The charge is armed robbery. She needs to go, but does not want to go alone.
I stand in my kitchen, waiting for water to boil so I can make green tea. It’s a beautiful late-spring afternoon, and I like my kitchen on such days: it’s sunny and comfortable and warm. Also old, which does not bother me. The tile dates from the previous owner, who had a love affair with dusty pink. The picture window no longer opens, the cabinets are dark and unappealing, and the floor is actual linoleum. Through the open side window comes the sound of buzzing saws. A neighbor is renovating her kitchen for the second time since I have lived in this leafy little suburb; somebody died and left her a wad of cash. Across the way another neighbor is refinishing his attic, and on the next block up a dumpster sits in a driveway, collecting construction mess. In towns like this there’s a constant churn of improvements, additions, refurbishments. On the outside my house looks the same as the others. Inside the best I can do is patch whatever breaks.