Memorial Day has become the holiday that I most associate with America. It’s not for any military or patriotic reasons, but more for that fact of what it represents—what little traditions we enact year after year that give it a meaning and definition in our lives as the official start of summer.
The Memorial Day weekend truly starts on the Monday before the weekend, when you exchange plans with your coworkers and your friends. The week drags on until you come to that sleepy first “Summer Friday” (at least in New York). Then you get a ride with your friends or hop a train, bus or plane to go home or to go meet with old friends by the beach somewhere. Perhaps you have some new friends from college or the adult life you are beginning to form for yourself and their parents have a country house somewhere, so that is where you go to find quiet and a barbeque. Or maybe there is some timeshare that has been in your family for years and you can enjoy that luxury. Or, one of your childhood friends bought a house in Providence with his fiancée and you can go there for your weekend sanctuary. No matter where you go, its usually a hot, sunny Friday and you will undoubtedly be sitting in traffic for more than two hours. Yes, even if you are flying.
This year, I went to my friend Jeff’s house in Providence. My friends and I had done the same thing last year because Jeff had just bought the house with his fiancée and we had to have a housewarming weekend since the rest of us couldn’t even fathom having a house or being engaged, but that’s what Jeff had always wanted in some way. We all want to own a house in one way or another, but having a home was just something that had always been integral to who Jeff was. So last year we went up and had fun: went to beaches, took videos, ate lobster, got drunk, got sunburnt. In the end, we had a memorable time. So much so that I still remember driving home late on Memorial Day itself through the mist of the Connecticut night and feeling so terribly hopeless. I was going back to a new job that was promising, but I felt restless looking out at the houses and unknown streets in the stubborn night. There were countless corners with lawns and sprinklers and low-hanging trees. There were countless youthful romances and heartbreaks next to every hedgerow. There were streetlamps that stood beside the street in a purely American fashion and I already missed my friends. However, I consoled myself, as I have since, by remembering that we had plenty of years left to continue having good times.
This year, some friends couldn’t make it because of work and also because of a lack of money, which was mainly due to the bad economy but partly due to laziness. Jeff was a little frustrated when we spoke the Friday morning before I left.
“No one picks up their phone.”
“That’s just the way it is, man. They probably feel bad they couldn’t come.”
“Just weird is all. I’m only getting a pony keg though.”
“Too bad the Finals don’t start until next week.”
“I know. Just call me when you get to New Haven, Domino.”
I left work at 1:30, already running late to meet my friend and her pretty friend from college who were parked by Grand Central Station with a trunk full of fresh bagels and some smoked fish I’d bought from Russ and Daughters the night before with the girl I was somewhat seeing. The plan was to ride up the FDR and hopefully catch minimal traffic until we got to the Hutchinson where, in a perfect world, there would be no traffic. I was listening to a live bootleg of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” from Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1975. The live version of the song had taken on such a different complexion than the straight country, but none the less revealing and joyous, album version. I was sweating and felt the need to shout some of the new lyrics Dylan had added into the overwhelming humidity in the air:
Well I’m feeling a little bit scattered,
And your love is all that matters
‘Cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you.
People were rushing in every direction trying to make trains and buses. Girls’ dresses were suddenly appearing in my vision for the first time all season, in their yellows, greens, purples, oranges and slim blacks, as something utterly real, important and present. I could make out the light perspiration on the backs of women. I saw little kids hopping along with their instinctual energy and love of summer. I felt like Stephen Dedalus at the Sandymount Strand watching the birdgirl in the waters.
—Heavenly God! cried Stephen's soul, in an outburst of profane joy.
I felt my soul doing the same and I thought of my work, and of the girl I’d been seeing, and felt that perhaps I was just a bit scattered as well and hoping it was perhaps that love that would be all that mattered.
I heard a shout. I turned around and saw my friend sticking her head out the window and waving. I pulled my headphones out from my ears and hopped in the car.
“What ya didn’t see us?” my friend asked.
“I was listening to this Dylan.”
“We got the bagels.”
“Beautiful. You guys are beautiful.”
My friend’s pretty friend turned around from the passenger seat.
“Hey, Matt, how the hell have you been?”
“Good, Maria. I’ve been good.”
My friend wove through traffic like a professional and we were suddenly on the FDR, then slowly moving on the Bruckner. I figured out a shortcut through Pelham Park that got us to the Hutchinson and soon we were moving, not at any great speed, but we were moving along as well as you can hope to move on a highway on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend.
A few hours later, Maria was driving the car while my friend slept in the passenger seat. We were passing New Haven and she explained that she’d grown up outside of that downtrodden city and closer to the Long Island Sound. The traffic had all but dissipated and we were starting to cut across the state on I-95. I sat in the back seat as Maria told me about the different exits along the highway. I asked her about the Connecticut shore and she explained its merits to me. She told me about a childhood best friend of hers who lived off one of the exits we passed and how that friend later went to the same college she did but that they never spoke. I asked Maria about her job in the government and she told me her beliefs, which were practical but articulated with passion, which made them more interesting to me since I am easily swayed by anyone who talks about something with passion. Especially a girl like her who knew about politics and world affairs, while I know nothing about anything civic or political. I tried to weigh in where I could and she was more than polite towards my points while illuminating me on think tanks and the different countries who are involved with the Human Rights League and why Cuba should be re-incorporated into our foreign policies. Finally, she told me how her dad commuted all the way to New Jersey each day.
“I did it with him for two months one summer and it was terrible,” she said. “I told him he was crazy for doing it.”
“Why does he do it?” I asked.
“Well, he told me. He said, ‘I like where I live and I like my job and I’m not willing to give either of those things up.’”
“Can’t argue with that.”
“No, you can’t.”
We were both quiet as she continued to drive and I think at one point I dozed off amid the humming of the highway and the sunset.
At about seven o’clock we pulled up to Jeff’s house. It was a humid, but pleasant twilight on his quiet suburban street. The birds were chirping in the trees and I heard a child’s laugh and squeal from an open window somewhere. Jeff and his fiancée greeted us in aprons at the screened front door. A thought passed through my head, that Jeff’s fiancée looked as pretty as she ever had at that moment.
“I’m cooking lobsters and some fish,” Jeff said. “Lots of beer in the fridge.”
I checked the refrigerator—he was right. I grabbed two beers for us while the girls drank wine. We all paced about the kitchen, as people will do when they first arrive at the home of a friend or a loved one after a long drive. Jeff stood at the center of it all, leaning his thin frame over the burners. He seasoned the blackfish with Cajun spices and began to sear them, while steam came from the lobster pot. Maria, my friend and I set the table and Jeff’s fiancée brought out a bottle of champagne. I uncorked the bottled and poured champagne in glasses. Jeff came in from the kitchen with the lobsters and set them down.
“I tried a new way of boiling them. Boiled them for twenty minutes. It’s a little long. Not sure if this will be good or not.”
We toasted to Jeff and Sara, to new friends (Maria had never met them), to Memorial Day Weekend and to summer in general. The lobster was good, as was everything else. The wood of the dining room table shone under the light and the door to their sunroom was open, letting in a slow breeze that had picked up with the onset of night. My friend went up to change since she and Maria were going to an alumni dance at their college, so Jeff, Maria and I talked about famous political dictators while Jeff’s fiancée talked on the phone in the sunroom.
“Did you know that Time has only given out four red X’s?” I said.
“What’s a red X?” Jeff asked.
“It’s for when a dictator is killed.”
“That’s right.” Maria said.
“There’s one for Hitler, Sadaam, and that other Al Qaida guy they killed five years ago.”
“Al-Zarqawi,” Maria said.
“Who’s the fourth?”
“Japan,” I said.
“No Stalin? He was the worst.”
“Completely,” Maria said.
They continued to talk about Stalin’s legacy in Russia, a country that Jeff had always loved due to some vague family lineage, while I got up to wash dishes in the kitchen.
Later, Jeff and I were drinking a few more beers when my friend and Maria came down in their dresses to go to the alumni dance. They both looked very clean and pretty and for whatever reason reminded me of a new bar of soap pulled right out of the box. Their dresses had pockets on the side. I wasn’t sure if it was an old-fashioned style, but I loved it—maybe it was just a country style that made sense. There was something absolutely right about seeing two pretty girls in dresses going to an alumni dance at their college in a New England city. I wanted something very badly at that moment, I wasn’t sure if it was love, a woman or to sit in a cool breeze with a beer, but it was palpable and I felt very much like a teenage boy on summer vacation. Then, they were gone to their dance.
Jeff, his fiancée and I sat in the sunroom drinking and talking. Some of his fiancée’s friends came over and I tried to keep up with the conversation, but I was tired. Jeff and I talked about how our friend Chris was going to be coming with his girlfriend the next morning. We were trying to decide on the best beach to go to since I was adamant on swimming over Memorial Day Weekend. I found myself looking at my phone and waiting for the time to reach 1:00 AM so that I could allow myself to go to sleep. However, I managed to stay up so that Jeff and I found ourselves awake at 2:00. I was drinking one last unnecessary beer and we were talking about the NBA. In that moment, standing there with my old friend, talking about basketball, I thought about the NBA as a thing and how it had already been in my life for about twenty years and been a shared passion for Jeff and I for about fifteen years. How we’d seen the end of Michael Jordan, the full career of Shaq, the flash of brilliance that was Penny Hardaway, the saga of Kobe Bryant, the quiet efficiency and intelligence of the San Antonio Spurs, the rebirth of the Celtics and now the era of the Miami Heat. And it amazed me that Jeff and I would get older and grayer and the games would still be on. We’d be wearing different clothes and he’d have his wife and there’d be kids, we’d talk about the players of that time, the great teams, how certain players could play better, and then we’d quietly murmur about how much we loved the NBA. In that moment, with that vision of some future so present in my mind, I wasn’t sure what my life would be filled with or how full I’d let it become, but Jeff would be there and there would be things like basketball to talk about, so perhaps it could be good.
I finished my beer and we both took full glasses of water to bed. He went in with his fiancee and I went into the guest room. In the quiet of the room, I folded my clothes neatly and placed them on the top of the dresser. For some reason, I felt the need to pull back the curtains in the room and look out onto the back lawn, probably because I never got to do a simple action like that in my apartment. In the garden, I made out the shape of the large lemur statue that Jeff’s cousin had sculpted for him. I smiled thinking of Jeff’s cousin and his thick Brooklyn accent and then let the curtain close. I put two of the decorative pillows from the bed on the floor, pulled back the soft duvet and lay down. I slept immediately under my friend’s roof.
* * * * * *
The next morning I woke up and listened for footsteps. I heard someone walk down the stairs to the first floor. I listened for voices and wished secretly that I could be alone, which is something I wish for even on weekends with close friends. I saw the sun peeking behind the curtains and I quickly got over that desire. When I walked downstairs, I saw Jeff, his fiancée, my friend and Maria all sitting in the sunroom. My friend and Maria were sitting side-by-side on the couch wearing gym t-shirts and plaid shorts. They both had their legs propped up on the wicker coffee table. We talked about plans for the day. Maria had to meet some of her friends she hadn’t seen in awhile. She borrowed Janelle’s car to go out. I had a vague sensation of wanting her to stay and sit with us all day, but I wasn’t sure what emotion it was tied to, so I figured it wasn’t that important to me.
Inevitably, we started talking about Jeff’s wedding. A wedding is something that you have to talk about, no matter how far away it is. Jeff and his fiancée explained the setup of the farm where they were getting married. They told us about the arrival party, the cocktail hour at the wedding, the dinner, the ten-piece band, the after party and the farewell brunch the day after the wedding. It was going to be a weekend of celebration. I pictured the ceremony on a grassy lawn in front of the big lake. The leaves on the trees were changing even though it was only early September. Jeff was wearing a tuxedo, but he looked like we had when we went to our prom in high school. All of my other friends were there too, looking exactly as we had in high school. We posed for pictures and pretended to punch each other in the stomach. I pictured my parents at the ceremony too. I already imagined my drunk and the speech I would give; the speech that would make someone love me, or make some old relative say, “Now, that’s a smart young man.”
“I want a wedding,” my friend said.
We laughed, but I understood what she meant.
“So, we’re going to Colt State Park?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah, lets just do that.”
“We should get ready now then before Chris gets here.”
“Nah,” I said. “Let’s just wait until they get here.”
And before we knew it, they were there. Chris brought in a bag of groceries that included a few six-packs of tall, Narragansett Summer Ales. Narragansett is not a great beer, but I have a soft spot for it whenever I go to Rhode Island. It may be because it is some symbol of that water-filled state, but it has a very clean label with nice writing on it and drinking the beer out of the bottle tastes very good. The Summer Ales that Chris brought were even better than the regular Narragansetts, so we set to drinking them in the early afternoon.
Jeff showed off the new wood finish he did on the roof of his sunroom because Chris was good at building things and intuitive when it came to tools and crafts. We laughed a lot and made fun of Jeff’s neighbor who Jeff described as “an asshole.” It got sunny and then cloudy; wind blew through the sunroom. I put on Before the Flood, the Bob Dylan and the Band live album from 1974 and tried to make Chris’ girlfriend laugh because she has a good sense of humor and can give confidence to someone who just wants to make a small room of people and friends laugh. I changed shirts and when I came down, Jeff was sawing pieces of wood and starting a fire in his little clay oven out on the patio. He stopped to go get groceries with my friend since it was close to dinnertime. Chris and I were outside alone for a second.
“I don’t worry about you,” he said.
“Thank you, man.”
“It’s an intuitive thing and I know you know that.”
“I do. And you know I feel the same way.”
“I miss you sometimes you son of a bitch.”
We laughed and drank more beer.
“This is a good session beer,” Chris said.
Jeff and my friend came back with steaks and a lot more beer. Maria appeared from the back gate with a friend of hers from Brown. They sat down as Jeff started cooking steaks and sausages that Chris had brought. Jeff’s fiancée set a long table with salad and leftover rice from the night before. She brought out a homemade pizza that Jeff had whipped together.
“Steaks are done,” Jeff said.
“Thanks for all this, Jeff,” I said.
“Uh, Matt, what about me?” Jeff’s fiancée said.
“I’m sorry,” I said sincerely. “I know I’ll never be forgiven.”
“Domino,” she said.
We toasted to the meal and to the pleasant night and the fact that all of these different people were sitting around the table together. Maria’s friend explained his start-up energy company. It had something to do with harnessing energy from the water. It sounded like a good idea and, even in that very moment, I wished that I had paid attention better. The guy was nice and he was from a family of architects in San Francisco, so I trusted him.
Dinner ended and my friend, Maria and Maria’s friend from college all had to leave. We said our goodbyes.
“You should come down to D.C. sometime,” Maria said.
“She’ll never come,” she motioned to my friend and laughed.
“Sure she will. I’ll come whenever.”
I hugged her and kissed her on the cheek.
* * * * * *
Later that night we were all drinking beer in the sunroom. Jeff’s fiancée brought out wine that she and Chris’ girlfriend shared.
“What?” Chris said. “Is that a lemur statue out there?”
“Oh,” Jeff’s fiancée said. “Yeah, Albert made it for Jeff.”
“Al!” Chris said and laughed. “How is he?”
“He’s got a cute little kid now.”
“I didn’t know he made art.”
“Yeah, he doesn’t so much anymore. But he can still make sculptures and things when he has free time,” Jeff said.
“That’s better,” I said.
“What do you mean, Domino?”
“I mean, its better to just make something that somebody likes. Sometimes that’s better than anything else. Any art.”
I thought of the Bob Dylan bootleg I loved and I wasn’t sure I even believed what I had just said. Or, at least I wondered if it were even true or not.
Well I’m feeling a little bit scattered,
And your love is all that matters
‘Cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you.
“Here’s a beer, Dom,” Chris said, handing me a very cold, perspiring regular Narragansett.
“I love ‘Gansetts!” I said.
“Domino,” Jeff’s fiancée said. “You’re the only person I know who loves Narragansetts.”
I hugged the bottle.
Under each regular Narragansett cap was a riddle using pictures. We spent the next few hours figuring out the riddles and drinking more beer. First Jeff’s fiancée went to bed, then Chris’ girlfriend. Then just Jeff, Chris and I sat out in the sunroom. We were all tired and a light rain was beginning to fall outside. I motioned to say something to both of them, but finished off an unnecessary beer first.
“Should we go to bed?”
Chris gave a large muscular nod from the chair he was slumped in. We went into the kitchen to get glasses of water. Jeff made a quick little sandwich for he and Chris using a half of a bagel. He put some of the smoked fish I brought on each quarter and spread a little plain cream cheese on.
“You want any, Domino?”
“No. You disgust me.”
We all walked upstairs slowly and went to bed. I folded my clothes and lay down alone under the soft duvet. I thought about the lemur statue out in the garden and was soon asleep. I wasn’t sure how late it was.
* * * * * *
We ate eggs and bacon the next morning. The bacon, when cooked, smelled of thick maple syrup and it was delicious. After we ate eggs and bacon, Jeff, Chris, Chris’ girlfriend and I went out to grab some supplies while Jeff’s fiancée showered and prepared for their big barbeque. Chris and I went into a crowded local bakery with a foolish list of supplies I had scribbled out to make everyone laugh. We bought baguettes, five large chocolate chip cookies and one raspberry Danish that I promised Chris I would get him. We laughed while waiting on line.
Back at the house, Jeff and his fiancée playfully yelled at each other while they made orzo salad. I helped them clean up the counter space and told Jeff’s fiancée that she had planned and made plenty of side dishes for the guests. Everything seemed eerily familiar to me, but I was enjoying myself helping her clean and prepare. Chris and his girlfriend had to leave to go to a party for her family. Jeff and I saw them out to the car. Jeff’s neighbor was outside with her baby and her brown standard poodle. The sun emerged strongly from behind the clouds and the baby chirped from its mother’s arms. Jeff and I said goodbye to Chris as they pulled out of the driveway. I felt a little sad, but went inside and took a shower.
Guests arrived for the barbeque, including one of Jeff’s friends from college who had the same first name as me and whom I liked a lot. He came with his girlfriend too. The sun was hot and all of a sudden there were a lot of people on the back patio that I didn’t know, but they looked nice and were friendly and young and sat around tables. Jeff’s fiancée had prepared enough side dishes and there was plenty of beer. I talked with a guy I’d met the year before about working in print. He was a nice guy and we joked about a lot of things and tried to be comfortable talking with each other for an extended period of time, which isn’t always an easy thing to do with someone.
I sat with Jeff’s friend from college, Matt, and his girlfriend.
“Jeff said you needed a ride to White Plains to catch a train,” Matt asked.
“Can you help me out? If its not too much trouble?”
“You got it.”
So, we talked. They had both just graduated law school, so we talked about that. We talked about the wedding. Soon it got darker and Jeff started another fire. One of the guests was drunk and tried to explain to me why he wasn’t a homophobe. I knew he was drunk and I was feeling flush with drink and the sense of upcoming summer and celebration that I was in the mood to be patient and listen. Besides, it was a nice night and Jeff had a fire burning.
The night got late and I started a movement to begin cleaning. However, all the girls took over and formed a line near the sink in the kitchen. The water over the sink ran hot and steam rose up and fogged the window. I had to go to the bathroom, so I hesitantly moved through the long row of girls talking loudly. I walked with my shoulders shrugging as if I knew nothing of washing dishes or anything domestic. I reached the bathroom and took a piss. And as fast as the line had started, as fast as the ritual had appeared, the girls and everyone else started filing out. The drunk guy and his girlfriend stayed awhile but they soon walked home.
Everyone was getting ready for bed, when I reminded Jeff and his fiancée that I had stashed the cookies from earlier in the day. I pulled them out of their hiding spot by the dryer and put them in the microwave.
“They don’t need it, Domino!” Jeff stood in front of the microwave.
I put the cookies flat on a paper towel and put them in the microwave for thirty-five seconds.
“Get out that milk we bought,” I said.
The microwave stopped and I pulled out the cookies. Jeff, his fiancée, Matt, his girlfriend and I started pulling at the cookies. The chocolate chips were warm, gooey and delicious and soon it was a feeding frenzy until the last bit was gone. I quickly crumpled up the paper towel and threw it away.
“Damn you, Domino,” Jeff’s fiancée said.
“You know that was good.”
We all went up to bed in our respective spots. Our stomachs filled with milk and rapidly eaten chocolate chip cookies.
* * * * * *
On Memorial Day morning, the five of us sat around leisurely drinking coffee with the sense of impending departure that hangs over any Memorial Day. We ate the remainder of my smoked fishes and the last of the bagels. We had coffee and I showered. When I got downstairs, I saw Matt drinking a beer, so I decided to have one too. More coffee was poured. We said we would leave, but then we stayed. Finally, it was about 1:00 PM and it was time to go. I collected all my things and grabbed my sneakers from the sunroom. I had the feeling I was forgetting something, but I went through my mental checklist and found that I had everything. We said our goodbyes and I didn’t feel that initial sadness rise up because I knew that I’d be seeing Jeff and his fiancée soon enough anyway. Or maybe it was because things were a little bit more scattered in general and there was no way to be truly sad.
I got into the back seat of Matt’s car.
“We’re going to stop in New Haven,” he said. “I’ve got to move some stuff out of my apartment and take it to White Plains.”
“Sounds great,” I said.
Matt turned on some Spoon and I listened to he and his girlfriend playfully bicker back and forth. We were stuck in traffic for a few hours and I thought about watching the NBA Finals the next night. By the time we got to New Haven the sun had started completely shining, giving the area around the college a completely refreshing and collegiate feel.
“I can’t believe this is such a terrible place,” I said.
“That’s what you think at first,” Matt said. “And then you see someone get stabbed across the street.”
We stopped at his apartment, which was in the top floor of an old Victorian home. We walked up creaking back steps. The apartment had a distinctly "end of the school year" feel to it. There were boxes everywhere and unwashed dishes in the sink and around the kitchen. Windows were open and fans were buzzing. Everything was very quiet and you could hear the birds chirping outside.
“This place is disgusting,” Matt’s girlfriend said.
“Well, then grab some stuff and we can get out of here quickly.”
We made several trips up and down in the heat, taking out dress shirts, ties, half full bottles of liquor, pots, pans and a fishing pole, which Matt forced his girlfriend to take in her car. Then, Matt and I got in his car, while his girlfriend got in hers and we set off for White Plains. There was no traffic on the Merritt so Matt and I flew. We made small talk. We talked about the summer. He explained the intricacies of living in New Haven and told me some stories of danger. We talked about Jeff and other mutual friends we shared. We also talked about fishing. It was a nice conversation that had no awkward stops to it, only natural ones, which was a reassuring thing to happen in a conversation between two guys who had been brought together by a shared friend. Before I knew it, it was 5 o’clock and I was at the White Plains train station.
“I’ll see you soon, my man,” I said waving Matt off.
He gave a nod in his baseball cap and sunglasses and took off.
I waited for the train in the golden light of the late afternoon. The sun was filtering through the trees and I thought about all the times I had taken the Metro North. How at different times it had signaled ultimate heartbreak, an escape, a chore, and a drunken late spring afternoon reverie. I put on my headphones and began listening to the Bob Dylan bootleg from 1975. I listened to Bob wail and change the lyrics to his songs. I listened to him change the tempo.
Well I’m feeling a little bit scattered,
And your love is all that matters
‘Cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you.
I kept listening on the train and watching the trees pass by. I remembered the lemur statue in Jeff’s yard and what I had said about it. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe it isn't just enough to simply make something that someone enjoys. Here was Bob Dylan, taking songs that people knew and loved, and then completely changing them. He rearranged the tempo so that the song took on a new meaning. He sang the lyrics with different emphasis, so that the songs took on a deeper meaning, maybe even a truer meaning than their original form. From the sound of the crowd, it seemed like audience enjoyed the new versions (how could you not with that backing band and especially those drums). Whether they liked it or not, it didn’t seem to matter to Dylan, all that mattered was that it sounded like he was having the best time of his life. As if he were saying to the world and to himself, “now this is what ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ was supposed to sound like. I just couldn’t do it like this before.” There is a truth to the enjoyment of creating something and giving it to someone for their enjoyment—it is an act of care, of love. But perhaps that isn’t better than art, even if it is just something completely different than art.
When I got back to the city, I walked around the streets of my neighborhood in the last red light of the day; I wasn’t ready to go home yet. The smell of charcoal was in the air. I saw little girls taking large steps on the front stoops of their apartment buildings. It was Memorial Day without a doubt. I had just had a great weekend with old friends, their new loved ones, and other people who were nice and just trying to make their own way through this world and have their own Memorial Day weekends. I thought of the girl I was somewhat seeing and how I thought I might be able to love her, if that was even possible.
In front of me, a guy was walking his old, trodding, yellow dog. They walked slowly side by side toward the setting sun and I felt as scattered as I’d ever felt. I was wondering what mattered. I was pretty sure that I understood, but I couldn’t be quite sure. In any case, it was another Memorial Day.