HomePublicationBurbankChris Erskine: The Kids, the Cubs, the Brassy Lights

Chris Erskine: The Kids, the Cubs, the Brassy Lights

The granddaughter, right, never picks up the check.

Love is in the air this week, can you smell it? Like ozone after a thunderstorm. Like cider simmering on the stove.
FYI, the love of my life might be my 2-year-old grandkid. I have holes in my socks bigger than she is. She screams in restaurants and stomps through puddles in her tiny lobsterman boots. Probably broke — never reached for a check in her whole entire life.
Figures I’d fall for a princess and a pauper.
The love of my life might be this sassy dog … part wolf. I talk to her in sonnets as we walk the boulevard in the moonlight. “Did I remember the water bill?” Or, “No, don’t eat that.”
It’s the lexicon of lovers sharing the little intimacies of everyday life. As you may recall, White Fang belonged to my late son; now she belongs to me. Or I belong to her. Basically, we belong to each other.
The love of my life might be Smartacus, my other son, my sidekick, my favorite hang. He’s away at college now, leaving a tear in my heart that’s far bigger than that hole in my sock. And a mountain of smelly T-shirts by his bed.
The love of my life might be the lovely and patient older daughter — my greatest achievement, my favorite book. Or, it may be her sister Rapunzel, the one whose hair is like a strawberry flag.
Seems the pendulum is swinging, and my kids now look out for me more than I look out for them. I think that’s love, though it might be gratitude. Or pity.
Let’s call it love.
Then again, the love of my life might be the 2016 Chicago Cubs, the ones who finally won a World Series. I mean, talk about drama and heartbreak. It was a stupid fling, a beery affair … lasted some seven months. Glorious. Mended the holes in my heart.
Or, the love of my life might be this silver tea set with the Linda Evans smile. Sometimes God gives you looks. Sometimes he gifts you a steel-trap mind. Or a sense of mirth. This woman has all three. Greedy, right?
Must be hard to love me. Last week, I wrote “bacon” on my shopping list three times. I’m a dreamy fool. I love fog in the morning and sun by afternoon. I love the way butter melts on pancakes, the way bald eagles nest in snowy pines. I love that dent in the long grass where the deer just slept.
I love a forest so thick that “the trees joined hands,” to borrow from William Stafford.
I love waving a cigar with a bunch of half-drunks at the beach … Bittner, Jeff, Miller.
“Love is friendship set on fire,” an old Brit once said.
Love burns hot like that. It knits the universe together. So random, love — a rush, a trigger point … all those intrusive thoughts.
Same symptoms as a stomach bug.
“What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia, after you do, he’ll never phone ya …”
Love is also that thing you feel for someone on the way home from a long trip, warm against your shoulder — a kid, a parent, a partner.
Someone who lasts.
You know, the love of my life might be life itself, sometimes sooty with grief, sometimes wonderful. You don’t get one without the other. You don’t get life without a tumble or two. That zipper scar on your knee, the one that never tans? That’s a reminder of when you ran faster than your legs could carry you … that your feet couldn’t quite keep up.
Remember running like that? Me neither.
Indeed, the love of my life might’ve been my late wife Posh, that brassy ribbon of light. Pursued her the way you chase a chipmunk through a rental cabin.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” Keats wrote. And Posh sure is. As is our oldest son.
The love of my life might be newspapers — my Norma Desmond, my fading beauty.
Or California, the most confounding place. Heaven.
The Midwest owns me too; it’s where half my memories were made. I love the heartland the way poets love lamp posts or honey jars on a kitchen sill.
I love a good jukebox in a dimly lit bar. I love Buffett and Zeplin all night long. I love lyrics that do hair-flips, I love writing that pings off the page.
What don’t I love? Mocktails. Jackson Pollock. Those faux plastic hedges.
Or, when writers write about love.
I mean, what do they know about anything?

The columnist’s latest book, “What the Bears Know,” is in bookstores now.

First published February 15-17 in Outlook Newspapers.


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