The Keyboard Called

02/14/2020 5 By BuddyCushman

And this fell out:

I had two houses in the spring and summer of 1965. I had two lives. My daughter Jessie, she’s 12, her thing is ice cream. Yes, of course, there are snakes and lizards and scavenging down boysenberry from the low bushes at the edge of the Everett woods, and peanut butter and jelly is way up there on the ‘fave’ list. But, topping them all is ice cream. And good news is we had a favorite ice cream place out on the river and we had one over by the bay too. Where I had both houses, that spring and summer, when it was just Jessie and me and, oh, the occasional overnight guest.

I’m a writer, a divorced writer, we got married way too young, Molly was barely seventeen and a half, me just a tad over 18, and she was pregnant, which was the greatest gift of all, I think that when thinking how I felt across from Jessie at one or other of the picnic tables outside Benny’s 50 Flavors, those benches you have to figure have had all 50 dripped and spooled on each one how many dozens of times. So Molly and me hitched down to New Haven and paid a justice of the peace thirty bucks and we crashed two days at one of the motels right on the water, opened up a couple of weeks before the season, and seven months later here comes Jessie, and no one, neither of the families, went into shock when we got everyone together three years down the road and said we were through, I think they respected that we had our arms around each other and still were there for each other, just being married didn’t work anymore. And how that went was Molly, five years later, met a guy just phasing out of the air force and they moved  to where his people were in Arizona – Flagstaff up in the mountains – I’ve been out there a few times, mostly passing through but of course for Molly’s wedding – and Jessie went too but, here’s the thing, you can take the girl away from the ocean but you surer than shit can’t take the ocean away from the girl, not my Jessie anyhow, and it broke her mother’s heart but Jessie was clear, what’d she say, “Cape Cod si, Flagstaff no”, and Jess moved back a week before her eighth birthday.

She’s been with me since, save five or six visits back to Molly and Dan, and she’s a happy kid and she’s wild and electric and loves life and for sure is my best friend, and even on those nights when I have company I’m always happy to crawl out of bed early the next dawn and make some coffee and sit with Jessie out on the patio and just be. Yeah, she’s a coffee drinker. And back in 1965, we had our house, kind of a cottage deal, right on the bay, we’d been there ever since Jess came back from the southwest. And we rented the second-floor duplex on stilts hanging out over the Agawam River. We needed two places that year. That spring and summer.

I’ll tell you why.