House Party - Part V
Ivy was one of Tommy’s old ‘crew’, a loosely-knit group of young men and women who hung out together from time to time when they were in their early twenties. The only requirement for inclusion, albeit a tacit one, was that no one in the group was fucking any one else in the group. It wasn’t a law, it just made things a lot easier. Tommy walked over to her and sat down.
“Hey Pal, what’s with the big grin?”
“Oh, hi, Tommy. As of last Friday I have joined the leisure class—I am officially retired.”
“You must be the last of us to have been still working at a regular job. It looks like retirement suits you.”
Ivy had married Benny, one of the sax players who Tommy had known since childhood. As she spoke of her new situations Tommy began thinking of the times they spent together. Each different facial expression of Ivy’s seemed to trigger a different memory in him:
That sparkle in her eye hasn’t changed one bit. She was still a teenager when we met, or maybe she was twenty? We’d see each other at the band’s gigs, and then, without fully realizing it, things got more social. Parties, where we all were checking each other out, then trips to the country to visit with Cara, her childhood friend. Those lazy afternoons seemed to last for days, not hours. No hassles, no pressure, no makeup even—unless it was for comic effect—for the gals and for the guys, as well. Then I got married, to someone outside of the group, but that didn’t end our friendship. The house next to where my wife and I were renting became vacant so we moved next door and Ivy and Izzy moved in. Hilarity ensued. More parties-did the mock-wrestling match really happen or was that a dream?-watching Ingmar Bergmann on the old black and white TV. Memories of simple things, like haircuts in the backyard, gain a præternatural aura, phenomena suspended between the mundane and the miraculous. And then the babies came and with them; milky breasts, dirty diapers, the laughter of toddlers, all the highs and lows concomitant with child-rearing. As they grew older there were more memories; glorious trips to the lake, riotous birthday parties, all the milestones of life, Ivy was in her glory. When we moved away from our enclave we still stayed in touch with her and the others. Paralleled lives, and now that the kids are grown and the dogs have died, we’re entering a new phase, it is not yet dark—it’s only October, not December. We are now just accidental traveling companions who reconnect from time to time, sharing notes on our respective journeys when we do meet.“… and that’s what I know,” she said, “how about you? What holds your interest?”
“I’m still writing, The Great American Novels,” said Tommy, “Sisyphus has nothing on me. I’m up to five, if you count the novellas, you can read them online.”
“What?” said Ivy, in true surprise, “I never knew you were a writer, you haven’t written about me have you?” “No one would believe it if I wrote about any of those adventures we had.”
Tommy’s still the dabbler, the dreamer. All those outrageous stunts, I have to hand it to him, he tries. The bands, the art projects, that movie! And now, a novelist. It’s might be a good thing he wasn’t terribly successful at any of them, he’d probably be insufferable if he did make it big. This soiree he’s throwing is really just another art project, a chapter in the book of ‘us’. What we were and what we have become. This night won’t recapture the times we had back then, but it’ll be close enough.“Thanks for throwing this bash,” said Ivy, “It’s like old times, even though we can’t go back to past. When is the band playing?”
“Seven-ish, we’ll let you have some time to digest your food and all the new gossip.”
Tommy looked Ivy in her left eye as long as he dared, and then he smiled.
“Stop that!” said Ivy.
“I’ll catch you later,” he said as he stood up and went back toward the house.
“You can’t go back to the past?” he thought, “Well, maybe not all the way back, but some of the way. That’s probably for the best.”
“That old fool!” said Ivy, shaking her head as she watched him walk away.
And then she smiled.
House Party - Part VI