Jul 21, 2023, 05:55AM

Scene 3: Jules on the Back Deck

He believed in the world beyond the self.

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Scene 1https://www.splicetoday.com/writing/jules-corner-booth

Scene 2: https://www.splicetoday.com/writing/jules-scene-2

When something came across Jules’ radar and tilted him toward sadness, he tended not to express that sadness. Over the decades, he’d become so accustomed to that tint, that cloud of ambient melancholy, why express it? What really got to Jules was witnessing a surprising act of kindness. When compassion upended a moment in his day and weaved its way into his life. Those moments sustained Jules when he learned to find a place for them among his memories and revisit them during his darker times.

After a nap, Jules poured himself a glass of iced tea, splashing in some limeade and bourbon. He wasn’t going back out today. He thought about Reva's list of affirmations. "Alright, fine," he said to himself. He told her he'd read through it and think about each statement, that he’d actually sit with the ideas. Becca was due to arrive in a few hours.

#7. I believe in myself.

Jules believed in the world beyond the self. Despite lapsing into ideas of “self,” with time and attention, Jules understood the "self" to be a subtle fiction. Each person contained multiple versions of “self,” and each self served a purpose, and not always a beneficial or rational one.

One of the countless problems with life, Jules found, was that the “self” that used to serve a purpose, no longer served anything at all, but the conscious mind hung on to it anyway. For example, the self that a person forced out of bed during a Monday morning blizzard, in order to get to work at a job that one was more-than-ready to retire from, that self was less useful after a person retired.

Finally, a person could go back to sleep and wake up whenever the hell that person wanted. Jules believed in his daughter Reva. That was why he was reading this list.

#8 I love myself.

Today, when Jules thought of love, he thought of Violet and her absence. They were going to live out their days in Santa Barbara together. No work, better weather, fresher fruit, less stress. For the first few years after the accident, love meant loss. A shattering, no-ground-beneath-his-feet loss. Like a hole had punctured Jules’ stomach and the tunnel of torment somehow found its way deep into the earth. Then slowly, with Reva and Becca’s help, Jules allowed love back in.

This afternoon, when he gazed out at the stand of Redwoods beyond his deck, his mind drifted to Reva, and then Becca and Neve. He loved them daily. He sent his love out to them each morning. Then he thought of his few remaining friends, in their various homes, scattered around the country. He thought of his two nephews and their families. He thought of his niece and her little boy.

Jules missed both of his brothers. He’d loved them, too, Sam and Morty, despite all of it. They were grumps, but they were genuine curmudgeons. He still had the urge to talk with Morty, or send him an email. When they were young, Morty did a great Groucho Marx and kept everyone from being too serious. Morty became a screenwriter after college. Jules had visited him in Pasadena every summer. It was Morty who had persuaded Jules to come west after retirement. Morty had been gone for two years now. Covid, after decades of drinking had weakened his liver.

A few times since he’d died, Jules wrote Morty a letter, then dumped it in a drawer. Their older brother, Sam, had been gone for nearly 20 years now. Brain tumor. When he was diagnosed, the surgeon assured everyone he would survive, but Sam wouldn’t say anything one way or the other. Those damn cells kept hiding.

Jules definitely loved basketball. As a kid it was the Warriors, with Poppin’ Paul Arizin and Neil Johnston and later, when Jules enrolled at Drexel, Wilt the Stilt took over. Jules would sit in the nosebleeds and pour his heart into the team. Scanning box scores every morning and chopping it up at the barber shop. Jules and his boys were floored when the Warriors took off for the Bay Area, following the A’s. But, in 1963 in came the Syracuse Nationals, relocating and changing their name to the 76ers, honoring Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the climax of the American Revolution, adopted in the original Philly by the Continental Congress. Since then, he’d been a Sixers fan, having several mini-heart-attacks during the playoffs every spring.

Jules realized he’d drifted off. He looked down at the deck. The stapled article of papers had fallen from his hand. He picked it back up.

#8. I love myself.

I love myself… do I love myself? How is one supposed to answer that question? Each day provided a different answer.


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