The scene was set.
A group of friends whose written descriptions would quickly set discussions in motion.
But the author claims no relation to Donald Barthelme.
Instead, the table was set.
A round table, or roundtable, ’round which one’s casual advisors sat:
The Frenchman, the Gunslinger, the Rocket Engineer, the Dance Instructor, the Sister, the Irishman, the Roller Derby Mom, the Running Dad, the Leader, the Follower, the Canoeist, the Classmate(s), the Strangers, the Wife, surrounded by a Peanut Gallery of Rogues, Ne’er-do-wells, Solid Citizens and Ghosts.
To the advisory panel, one posed a question, directly to some, indirectly to others, through observation of a few, through social media to the rest:
“Who am I?”
The answers consistently told the same story:
The author is a friend, more normal than strange, whose presence is more desired than rejected, whose influence is accepted without question.
Yet, the author felt something was missing. What of the One the author felt was key to opening the door to a future pushing the concept of retirement out of one’s thoughts for decades more?
The author approached the advisors with the same question.
The answers drew a different picture than what the author had drawn.
Which picture was more accurate?
The author did not know much about the One except through texts from the One and descriptions from others who had spent many moments alone or in groups with the One.
One’s thought of the One — were they necessary?
If the author always sought a mommy figure and the One always sought a daddy figure, what did they really have in common, except shared members on the advisory panel?
Perhaps that was it and all that was necessary to live in two futures at once, a life of leisurely retirement and a life of active participation in the raising of a generation of children who would inherit one’s desire to question everything while simultaneously accepting everyone’s opinions/beliefs without question.
That’s all this author desired — a handoff of one part of one’s set of states of energy in motion to another, leaving an imprint, however small or large, knowing one is quickly forgotten within a generation or two of being alive.
The author already achieved long-lasting influence, thus the reason for retiring at age 45.
Ten years later, essentially the length of the life of one’s girlfriend who died in fifth grade, the author wondered which direction one was going next.
The author had walked away from the One many times, never assuming that the One would respond, but the One always did, finding some way to contact the author.
The author stopped asking why they were connected to each other.
The author wondered why the mental image of the One differed from others’ mental image of the One.
Did the author too quickly, too easily simplify and sugar-coat everything? Would that explain the image disparity?
The author never liked to offend others, looked for compromise to reduce conflict.
The author focused on activities rather than thoughts, mentally mapping out today’s activities within one’s control:
Pick up dead branches and rotten pieces of wood, clear a space to build a foundation for the next module of the backyard enclave — a writer’s/Maker’s studio, including a treehouse, greenhouse, sleeping loft and entertainment deck.