There was a sprawling row of dilapidated beach shacks, each one seamlessly hitched by weathered shakes to the other, like driftwood row houses. I chose to isolate this one at the end because the angles of that bump-out were appealing in the way they reminded me of the Swiss-Asian influenced architecture of certain Pacific Northwest bungalows, in particular the flared roof form or peaked gable. It’s really a miracle these still exist given Seattle has sold so much of itself to the highest bidder. Or maybe it’s not, considering when the tide comes in, these bluff-backed cottages are accessible only by use of a rickety boardwalk straight out of a Roald Dahl story. Can you imagine someone in that little room working on the next great novel? Or maybe just reading an old paperback? Most of the shacks seemed thoroughly abandoned, several had sliding patio doors ajar, with insides piled with junk (probably home to incredible-sized wharf rats). The westernmost shack was the only little house which seemed permanently occupied, the resident rested in a chair on the deck, along with a shaggy dog.
Last week after running several critical errands as quickly as possible on my own and returning home to make sure the boys had not toppled everything down in a tidy heap during my absence, to my initial horror the sounds of The Beach Boys blasted from Oliver Fern’s turntable, upstairs! His room is situated at the back of the house, directly above his mother’s temporary office, wherein that present moment she was finessing the morale of a couple hundred high-falutin colleagues, in a video conference. From the kitchen downstairs, the chorus of Surfin’ USA was more than faintly audible through the ceiling plaster. After a mad dash up the stairs, partway down the hall I came to a standstill. In My Room repeated, must have been four or five times in a row. I’m not nostalgic for The Beach Boys, who seem apropos to nothing at the moment but I’ve always loved that song. Oliver spent the rest of the morning in his room, content to be alone, away from the rest of us. Later, the boys’ mother smiled sweetly when I asked her about the music upstairs, which she reported included The Beatles, The Shins, and Count von Count from Sesame Street.