sunday picnic.

Stayed overnight at my mother's place. In the morning she was gone and I went for a walk. I'm usually listening to music on my walks but I for some reason wanted to see if anybody would recognize me and mostly kept my head up.

There used to be this park with a handball court and a dolphin-shaped sprinkler near my old elementary school, but it looks like they demolished it in place of a second building. On the windows there was all this stark green safety netting that kept rippling with the wind.

My father was always the one who would walk me to school in the morning. I wonder what it would have been like if I stayed in the neighborhood after the sixth grade instead of having to commute to the city, my father still hovering over me around the time I first met you.

If I were to think of a specific moment to encapsulate his personality, I'd have to pick one of the many times we drove out of state, my parents and I, for one of our Sunday picnics. It was to some backwoods in Jersey where we'd reserve these overlong tables with the extended family and eat and play games. There were these stone grills covered in ashes that we never ended up using because we would bring our own. I'd often sit in silence on the farther end of one of the tables and just watch my uncle and the grill and the coals beside him changing color. I'd try my best to avoid any attention.

It was during the car ride there that I was talking with my dad about how much I disliked school. The conversation feels so typical as I now recall. I talked to him about a kind of sadness I had with my life and he thought to placate me by telling me to work hard and love my family. Silently I felt like I was provoking him by simply talking, so I thought to not say anything after a while and stared out the window until we arrived. My mother didn't say anything the whole ride.

As I made my way back home today, I saw a neighbor I recognized from childhood. He didn't seem to recognize me even as I walked right by him. His hair was grey now and he was still walking the same dog.