There's something about the sound of Gabe's old truck charging up the driveway, the smell of the gravel dust he leaves in his wake, that feels incompatible with my computer keyboard. It's the wrong century. The last glimpse of the primer-orange fender going around the bend up by the rusty garden gate: it feels timeless. Or rather, it puts me into time, gives me a connection backwards to 1966 when that truck was new. And further still, to any time and any woman who's watched her husband drive out of sight and then turned, cinching her robe belt tighter around her, back into the house unnaturally quiet with still-sleeping children.
It's not yet 7 am and the air is still a little cool; it's gonna be a scorcher. I love saying that. Birds are singing in the Douglas firs and the kittens are playing around my nervous feet.
Speaking of kittens and birds, Jezebel came inside yesterday and walked up to me, holding something and saying "Poop. Poop. Poop." I thought she'd picked up a piece of dog poop, but instead the thing she brought to me was a fully intact dead bird. (Not sure why "poop.") She showed me where she'd found it: right on the patio by the back door. The kittens are already bringing down birds and they're only 12 weeks old.
Cats are predators. So why do they kill birds and then not eat them? I'm sure they would eat what they hunt in the wild, if they weren't being fed; so then why do they still hunt at all? Instinct. They can't help themselves. Killing is something predators do whether they need to or not.
Is that so different from mankind? We feed ourselves through agriculture now. Why then do we still hunt? Why do we have bar brawls and wars? Just to satisfy our predatory instinct?
At the basest level we are animals. We might try to forget this, but it's pure animal instinct that draws us to each other, that connects us sexually and perpetuates our species. In intimate relationships we must draw heavily on those instincts sometimes, let our bodies speak to each other when hearts and minds fail, in order to maintain that connection. Yet in other aspects of our lives we try to distance ourselves from our roots, rise above instinct and bestial impulse. Where is the balance between where we come from and who we want to be?
The driveway dust settling on my keyboard is part of a balance between past and present; wrapping my arms around my ribs and watching the truck drive away instead of twining those arms around my husband to keep him here is part of a balance between present and future, desperation and hope.