God Bless This Mess was nailed over the doorway of her grandparents’ kitchen. She liked it. There was a faded maroon heart on the old woodblock grain, and faces, maybe snowmen or cherubs, and gloves holding up the letters. It was kitsch to him. She liked it.
When they moved to Los Angeles, the sun came up early and burned off any lingering fog and damp by lunchtime, most days. Even in winter, most days. And she rose with it and made a go of it. She drove him down Sunset Boulevard for his shows. After the shows, she found parking and accompanied him to the bar, and after the first year to the houses, the studios.
She bought a woodblock in Silver Lake and hung it over their kitchen sink. God Bless This Mess. If it made her happy he gave it a cursory smirk over their meals. She liked it. In winter they’d drive up to the mountains, if it was cold enough, to find snow. She played in it, skied in it. He videotaped her and they laughed on the drive down, the winding highway.
After another year he was driving himself. She wanted to give up her car and try the buses or the train. He still had to drive her to the stations. God Bless This Mess. He stopped asking her to come to the afterparties when he was finally so sick of her wilting like a potted plant. She couldn’t laugh with him with himself. She was fine staying home.
She asked him to drive her to see his last show, before she took the bus to the airport. He left her there at the bustop and she said she’d write. Email, he said, or phone. Why use the postal service? She wanted to write him. We don’t talk, he said. I’ll call you, when things are less intense. She clutched her bag to her knees and watched him drive away. The woodblock was still hung over the sink, and one week later it would be in the garbage, waiting at the curb.
One morning, waking with the sun, he looked through the window and saw that the garbage had been collected, the block was gone, with the mess. And some nights he’d think of her and her bag on that acronical boulevard. She liked the woodblock. He liked the space.