this is an outtake from flotation device 12. it just never fit in anywhere once i started putting everything in order. i wrote it in the summer of 2007.
The smell of gasoline through the windows the other day. Sun bright glaring and someone mowing the little lawn next door. It had such a huge sound like the mower that we had when I was a kid. The big green beast that I had to use all of my twelve year old body to push and maneuver sweating grass stuck all around my shins and ankles. Shoes stained green gasoline filling my nose wishing I were done the sun baking me. Why did I wait til the afternoon to do this? All the other subdivision houses with their uniform manicured lawns constant water and upkeep. Energy and effort. Squandered resources. The trees behind our house the big old trees that had been there for so long before all of our houses. Pushing the mower up one way and then back down slowly cutting away at the week long grass. Thinking that it would be awesome to have a yard that had super tall grass. Prairie grass. A little nature preserve with paths to walk through the bright sun glaring off the cul de sac in the front. The neighborhood kids playing hockey in the street or tag or basketball or wiffleball or riding bikes or running around or through sprinkler or anything other than mowing the lawn and me wishing that I were doing anything else.
Growing up moving the lawn summer after summer. Mowing other people’s lawns for ten bucks an hour. Eventually rocking a walkman with mix tapes cranking in my ears over the roar of the engine and the grass blowing all over and swaths being cut row after row and it was great music that made me feel so cool and so good and so energized and amazed that music could be so good.
And the sun tanning my arms and my face. I used to not wear a shirt and imitate my dad mowing the lawn but i grew up and started thinking about girls and got shy and I put my shirt back on thinking about the girls I had developed crushes on during the school year and tuning out the lawnmower daydreaming about girls and being anywhere other than mowing the lawn in the ninety degree afternoon sun.
Always looking for an excuse not to do it.
It all came back to me the other morning when i was making breakfast – a bagel some cereal some water – in the kitchen. The roar of the engine the raw gasoline smell and all I could think of was the sun shining through the branches and leaves of the trees overhead while I mowed the lawn. Will kids still mow the lawn? Do they now? Will we mow our lawns when there’s no more gas? No more power? Will kids still daydream while doing menial household tasks staining their socks green with fresh cut grass?