His father's gravestone was a handsome granite; carved into it in Times New Roman were his father’s name, the dates of his birth and death, and the epitaph that his father had requested: “Dead artists roll over in their graves.” Hopper breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that he could report to his mother and sisters that all the dates and spellings were correct, and that the gravesite had not yet been desecrated by any of his fans.
They strolled leisurely to Birgit’s apartment and talked about their children. Perhaps for the first time today, Hopper relaxed. He admired the lengths to which Charlize went to protect her children from all the ways that parents encourage and feed their children’s paranoia and neuroses. “All parents damage their kids,” she said. “I just want to keep that damage to a minimum.”
Since their sister's passing, neither Ingrid nor Heidi had visited Birgit’s apartment, which they jointly inherited. “Neither Heidi nor I want to own the apartment,” Ingrid explained to Hopper, “and we just can’t bring ourselves to go there.” However, before the sisters allowed a broker to inspect the residence, they asked Hopper to look it over and stay the night while he was in New York. “You want me to find the porn stash and hide it before anyone finds it?” he asked them over a Zoom.
“If you want to have a relationship with someone, you have to work on it,” Ingrid told Hopper. “Your trouble is that having friends is just not that important to you.”
“You can always tell that you are in a neighborhood filled with high rates of unreported crime by how many private art galleries are located there,” Hopper’s father told him. “There are more art galleries in New York than any other city, and more art galleries on the Upper East Side than any other neighborhood in the world.” Hopper's father called this phenomenon "stained-collar crime."
As the pandemic hit the East Coast, my barber shop closed. At the same time, people began to improvise masks. I vowed not to cut my hair again until an efficacious vaccine was running through Dr. Fauci’s and my veins. I was able to amuse myself in many ways, among them my "art project": creating a monthly “Hair and Mask Update” on social media.
“Silver, I may have been awkward back then, but I was responsible and dutiful when I was still in the crib,” Hopper said. “Any act of my younger self that would come back to haunt me occurred only when you and Olympia dragged me into your Daria dramas and cosplay.” Silver was silent. Hopper thought he had hit a nerve. He didn’t hate his sister, not really, and he did not want to hurt her, either.
Hopper felt safe walking around in public with a face covering. He liked the anonymity he assumed by covering half of his face. He felt immune from being accosted by the harbingers of past mistakes who could not recognize him behind his mask.
Over every dinner – by now well over 365 meals -- my wife and I make a toast. We look each other in the eye, smile wistfully, and say, “another day.” We have survived one more day. More importantly, we are making plans, looking forward to what tomorrow brings, and continuing to manage risks in a world that has always tried to kill us.
What I am about to describe is not intended to inspire others to follow our path. My wife and I decided to drive across the country in the new year so that we could winter in Tucson, Arizona (that very same Arizona, which was portrayed by the darkest of dark reds on the New York Times indicating rates of COVID-19 infections).