The mourning was clear and crisp. There was a slight nip in the air, carried by the breeze, a residual of a day before's flurries. The light dusting of snow along the tiger striping of khaki and early spring grass was fading into phantasm even as it was being perceived. Not even a rumor of a cloud marred the turquoise blue sky. It was bright out, the sun reflecting off the snow along the high peaks.
The hounds were all out doing their thing. Two of the cats were out, stalking near the bird feeders, looking for an easy mark. Jungle rules. I took notice of the crocuses and daffodil sproutlings along the east side of the house. I found myself smirking as I looked across the valley at my personal Kilimanjaro, majestic as always. Whistler, my canid shadow, came up to sit beside me and a scritched behind his ears.
"And we fucking live here!" I whispered, a mantra I invented for living in the mountains. Whistler made a loud chomping noise, his way of showing approval.
Sabina and I share many anniversaries. So many, in fact, I have joked about commandeering an entire month off the calendar just for me and her. This mourning, the mourning I have just described, marks the anniversary of us taking possession of the House of Owls and Bats, and realizing our dream of moving to the mountains. Our own Kashmir.
It's been a wonderful few years, filled with adventures and stories. Such is the way. Even now, there seems to be a dream-like quality to it all. Whether that's because of the landscape itself or my own wiring I've yet to figure out.
However, as sweet as this day, there is a fair amount of bitter. Such is the way. For every blessing, there is a corresponding cures, and even good deeds carry a set of consequences. It's a matter of balance, after all. Fire and water. Light and dark. Chocolate and peanut butter.
There was the matter of the monkey's paw blood money from my father's mother. It was disturbingly auspicious I finally got all of that about the time Sabina and I decided to buy a house in high mountain valley I refer to as our Sahel. When we first moved here, there was one neighbor who would constantly mention how they had wanted to buy the House of Owls and Bats, but we beat them to the punch. It got tiring quickly.
"Yes, but we got it," I said once in an annoyed tone. "And all it took was my father loosing his mother and me loosing my last grandparent to stomach cancer. Isn't that something? A mere trifle. And, by the way, did you know she begged her messianic figure for death right before the end?"
Sadistic of me? Perhaps. But it broke the neighbor of sucking eggs. The rest of the time they lived in this funky mountain township they never spoke to me of having once wanted to buy my house again.
My mother was a mortgage broker by trade. She was the one who was perhaps the most instrumental helping us acquire the house. This was all happening when she first took ill. On the day we took possession, my mother, recovering from a bout of radiation treatment, called in to conference with us as we signed our names in black India ink to several documents that I wondered if they were made of vellum or human flesh, and as to whether we were signing away the souls neither one of us are sure we have.
The last time my mother came to house she helped me acquire was in the waning days of summer, only a few months before the malignancy that consumed her took its final bites. She would always let me know how proud she was of me, and how it seemed life for me was going pretty well the way I wanted it. It would be trite to say I wish she could have come up one last time, perhaps most because I'd most likely want another several last times after that.
A late summer later, my father, sister, brother, daughter, and I scattered her ashes along Waldorf Pass. I read the requiem. As is the custom of birds to fly, the spot is but two or three miles from my front door. Were I to take a walkabout there, I could probably reach the spot in a few hours. Every so often, I consider this. Most the time, when I look at ridge line, I smile bittersweetly, knowing my mother's not too far away, but an impassable distance all at the same time.
This year, however, the bittersweetness that weighs most heavily upon my mind is the bruja of my acquaintance. See, the day we took possession of the House of Owls and Bats was her birthday. She was one of the first of our friends from the greater metroplex to pop by for a visit. It seemed at times she was the most supportive of our scheme to come up here, instead of silently thinking we'd both gone mad. This year, she would have been thirty-eight, being seven months younger than me. The life she carried in her belly when the accident occurred would have been a month old. The whelp was supposed to be named for Jibril. There are times when I can almost find irony in the circumstance. A rueful twisted substance I've yet to even be able to address with any kind facial expression other than a scowl.
So, I sit back with a cup of hot mate and take in the day. The bitter and the sweet. Having the belief in balance that I do, I do not think one could exist without the other. Melancholy, acceptance, and euphoria play through my psyche as calliope of shifting emotion. So it goes.
My waxmoon reptile eyes drift out the parlor window toward that particular peak I refer to as my personal Kilimanjaro. That peak has stood for millions of years. It will be here long after I'm gone. I find solace in that. One day, I will stand upon its summit. Looking upon my personal Kilimanjaro, I cannot help but smile, the whole time thinking;
...And we fucking live here!...