In The Kitchen, During the Terrorist Advisory
I pick up the box of blackberries, already rinsed, and dump them into the bowl containing half a papaya and a peach, peeled and chopped. This is the first course of breakfast.
As I’m doing that, a phalanx of motorcycles rumbles by the kitchen windows. The kitchen is just above a country highway, the kind of roadway where people who drive Harley Davidsons put on their checklists of scenic drives when they buy a bike in the city.
These bikes are not from the city.
As they pass, they drown out the radio. They would do this anyway, old mills are not built to keep the sound outside, but they do it louder than need be. They rev their engines, (“loud pipes save lives”) to their maximum volume, blaring by my kitchen window. It’s deafening.
It is a warning. It is aggression. We ignore it. It is ignorance. I take a serving of fruit from the larger bowl and spoon it into a cereal bowl. I wipe the counter, put some dishes away and take my bowl to the dining room where a wall will keep the sound away. They will be back, they are always back.
The roaring, the yelling, the swearing, it’s part of our day here. The way some of the locals use the parking lot for anonymous sex, or drug deals, or just to use it, to see what we’ll do, that’s part of the night most nights. Sometimes, the neighbors across the river will set off fireworks until it sounds like a battlefield. Fireworks are illegal. We called the police once. The dispatcher told us they were too busy to come.
My husband bought this place nearly 20 years ago, and he has been fine here. He’s always seen and sometimes felt the hostility, but we are quiet people. We’re not rich, we participate in as many community events as we can and avoid the high profile events that attract celebrities from New York as much as is practical.
We live here because we both worked in the arts all our lives and there is not enough money to buy a home, not even a studio, in the city. There was never enough money. Most of the people in this building moved in after us. They are “second home owners” retired investment bankers or architects, novelists who have won the MacArthur Genius Award or some other major grant, people with book launches and gallery shows in Boston or Florida, or sometimes New York.
My husband was a career photographer in New York City, he had an interest in organized labor and permaculture. I was a writer in Canada. We were never self-promoters or wildly popular geniuses. We never had day jobs in finance or law. We got by. We live a modest life.
Anyway, on Sunday mornings the motorcycle phalanx usually makes at least one run past the building and my kitchen is in their line of fire. The windows are six feet wide and ten feet tall. I don’t think about that.
I think about what I will make for dinner. The compost bucket is overflowing, I will need to take it to the small rental house we bought a few years back and get it into the compost. The garden needs attention, bird baths need cleaning.
I will think about the laundry, about getting the bananas into the freezer before they go off, about picking the strawberries in the garden and maybe making a pie with the rhubarb that’s still in the fridge. I will think about the story the radio announcer is telling, when I can hear it, and maybe about how seldom I write anymore because to write is to think, and when I read in the papers that the Department of Justice has issued a warning for increased levels of domestic terrorism, I worry that I might know why.