Where We Are Now

A Short Story

BY ETHAN CANIN

WHEN I MET JODI, SHE WAS AN ENGLISH MAJOR AT Simmons College, in Boston, and for a while after that she tried to be a stage actress. Then she tried writing a play, and when that didn’t work out she thought about opening a bookstore. We’ve been married eleven years now, and these days she checks out books at the public library. I don’t mean she reads them; I mean she works at the circulation desk.

We’ve been arguing lately about where we live. Our apartment is in a building with no grass or bushes, only a social room, with plastic chairs and a carpet made of Astroturf. Not many people want to throw a party on Astroturf, Jodi says. She points out other things, too: the elevator stops a foot below the floors, so you have to step up to get out; the cold water comes out rusty in the mornings; three weeks ago a man was robbed in the hallway by a kid with a bread knife. The next Sunday night Jodi rolled over in bed, turned on the light, and said, “Charlie, let’s look at houses.”

It was one in the morning. From the fourth floor, through the night haze, I could see part of West Hollywood, a sliver of the observatory, lights from the mansions in the canyon.

“There,” I said, pointing through the window. “Houses.”

“No, let’s look at houses to buy.”

I covered my eyes with my arm. “Lovebird,” I said, “where will we find a house we can afford?”

“We can start this weekend,” she said.

That night after dinner she read aloud from the realestate section. “Santa Monica,” she read. “Two bedrooms, yard, half mile to beach.”

“How much?”

She looked closer at the paper. “We can look other places.”

She read to herself for a while. Then she said that prices seemed lower in some areas near the Los Angeles airport.

“How much?”

“A two-bedroom for $160,000.”

I glanced at her.

“Just because we look doesn’t mean we have to buy it,” she said.

“There’s a real-estate agent involved.”

“She won’t mind.”

“It’s not honest,” I said.

She closed the paper and went to the window. I watched a muscle in her neck move from side to side. “You know what it’s like?” she said, looking into the street.

“I just don’t want to waste the woman’s time,” I answered.

“It’s like being married to a priest.”

I knew why she said that. I’m nothing like a priest. I’m a physical-education teacher in the Hollywood schools and an assistant coach—basketball and baseball. The other night I’d had a couple of other coaches over to the house. We aren’t all that much alike—I’ll read a biography on the weekend, listen to classical music maybe a third of the time—but I still like to have them over. We were sitting in the living room, drinking beer and talking about the future, One of the coaches has a two-year-old son at home. He didn’t have a lor of money, he said, so he thought it was important to teach his kid morality. I wasn’t sure he was serious, but when he finished I told a story anyway about an incident that had happened a few weeks before at school. I’d found out that a kid in a gym class I was teaching, a quiet boy and a decent student, had stolen a hat from a men’s store. So I made him return it and write a letter of apology to the owner. When I told the part about how the man was so impressed with the letter that he offered the boy a job, Jodi remarked that I was lucky it hadn’t turned out the other way.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He could have called the police,” she said. “He could have thanked you for bringing the boy in and then called the police.”

“I just don’t think so.”

“Why not? The boy could have ended up in jail.”

“I just don’t think so,” I said. “I think most people will respond to honesty. I think that’s where people like us have to lead the way.”

It’s an important point, I said, and took a drink of beer to take the edge off what I was saying. Too much money makes you lose sight of things, I told them. I stopped talking then, but I could have said more. All you have to do is look around: in Beverly Hills there’s a restaurant where a piece of veal costs thirty dollars. I don’t mind being an assistant coach at a high school, even though you hear now about the fellow who earns a hundred thousand dollars with the fitness truck that comes right to people’s homes. The truck has Nautilus, and a sound system you wouldn’t expect. He keeps the stars in shape that way—Kirk Douglas, the movie executives. The man with the truck doesn’t live in Hollywood. He probably lives out at the beach, in Santa Monica or Malibu.

But Hollywood’s fine if people don’t compare it with the ideas they have. Once in a while, at a party, someone from out of town will ask me whether any children of movie stars are in my classes. Sometimes Jodi says the answer is yes but that it would violate confidentiality to reveal their names.

Other times I explain that movie stars don’t live in Hollywood these days, that most of them don’t even work here, that Hollywood is just car washes and food joints, and that the theater with the stars’ footprints out front isn’t much of a theater anymore. The kids race hot rods by it on Thursday nights.

Hollywood is all right, though, I say. It’s got sun and wide streets and is close to everything.

But Jodi wants to look anyway.

NEXT SU NDAY I DRIVE, and Jodi gives directions from the map. The house is in El Segundo. While I’m parking I hear a loud noise, and a 747 flies right over our heads. I watch it come down over the freeway.

“Didn’t one of them land on the road once?” I ask.

“I don’t remember it,” Jodi says. She looks at the map. “The house should be on this block.”

“I think it was in Dallas. I think it came right down on top of a car.”

I think about that for a minute. It shakes me up to see a huge plane so low. I think of the people inside the one that landed on the road—descending, watching the flaps and the ailerons, the houses and automobiles coming into view.

“The ad says there are nice trees in back,”Jodi says.

She leads us to the house. It’s two stories, yellow stucco walls, with a cement yard and a low wire fence along the sidewalk. The roof is tar paper. Down the front under the drainpipes are two long green stains.

“Don’t worry,”she says. “Just because we look doesn’t mean anything.”She knocks on the door and slips her arm into mine. “Maybe you can see the ocean from the bedroom windows.”

She knocks again. Then she pushes the door a little, and we walk into the living room. There are quick footsteps, and a woman comes out of the hallway. “Good afternoon,” she says. “Would you sign in. please?”

She points to a vinyl-covered book on the coffee table, and Jodi crosses the room and writes something in it. Then the agent hands me a sheet of paper with small type on it and a badly copied picture. I’ve never shopped for a house before. I see two columns of abbreviations, some numbers. It ‘s hard to tell what the picture is of, but then I recognize the long stains under the drainpipes. I fold the sheet and put it into my pants pocket. Then I sit down on the couch and look around. The walls are light yellow, and one of them is covered with a mirror that has gold marbling in it. On the floor is a cream-colored shag rug, with a matted area near the front door where a couch or maybe a trunk once stood. Above the mantle is a painting of a blue whale.

“Do the appliances and plumbing work?” Jodi asks.

“Everything works,” the agent says.

Jodi turns the ceiling light on and off. She opens and closes the door to a closet in the corner, and I glimpse a tricycle and a bag full of empty bottles. I wonder what the family does on a Sunday afternoon when buyers look at their house.

“The rooms have a nice feel,” the agent says. “You know what I mean?”

“I’m not sure I do,” I say.

“It’s hard to explain,” she says, “but you’ll see.”

“We understand,”Jodi says.

In the marbled mirror I watch Jodi’s reflection. Three windows look onto the front yard, and she unlatches and lifts each one.

“I like a careful buyer,” the agent says.

“You can never be too thorough,” Jodi answers. Then she adds, “We’re just looking.”

The agent smiles, drumming her Angers against her wrist. I know she’s trying to develop a strategy’. In college I learned about strategies. I worked for a while selling magazines over the phone: talk to the man if you think they want it; talk to the woman if you think they don’t. I was thinking of playing ball then, semi-pro, and the magazine work was evenings. I was twenty-three years old. I thought I was just doing work until I was discovered.

“Why don’t you two look around,” I say now to the agent. “I’ll stay here.”

“Perfect,” she says.

She leads Jodi into the next room. I hear a door open and shut, and then they begin talking about the floors, the walls, the ceiling. We aren’t going to buy the house, and I don’t like being here. When I hear the two of them walk out through the back door into the yard, I get up from the couch and go over to look at the painting above the mantle. It’s an underwater view, looking below the whale as it swims toward the surface. Above, the sunny sky is broken by ripples. On the mantle is a little pile of plaster powder, and as I stand there, I realize that the painting has just recently been hung. I go back to the couch. Once on a trip up the coast I saw a whale that the tide had trapped in a lagoon. It was north of Los Angeles, along the coastal highway, in a cove sheltered by two piers of man-moved boulders. Cars were parked along the shoulder. People were setting up their cameras while the whale moved around in the lagoon, stirring up the bottom. I don’t like to think about trapped animals, though, so instead I sit dow n and try to plan what to do tomorrow at practice. The season hasn’t started yet, and we’re still working on base-running—the double steal, leading from the inside of the bag. Baseball isn’t a thing you think about, though; baseball comes. I’m an assistant coach and maybe could have been a minor-league pitcher, but when I think of it I realize I know only seven or eight things about the whole game. We learn so slowly, I think.

I get up and go over to the painting again. I glance behind me. I put my head next to the wall, lift the frame a little bit, and when I look I see that behind it the plaster is stained brown from an interior leak. I take a deep breath and then put the frame back. From outside in the yard I hear the women speaking about basement storage space, and rather than listen I cross the room and enter a hallway. It smells of grease. On the wall, at watist level, are children’s hand marks that go all the way to the far end. I walk down there and enter the kitchen. In it is a Formica table and four plastic chairs, everything made large by the low ceiling. I see a door in the corner, and when I cross the room and open it I’m surprised to find a stairway with brooms and mops hung above the banister. The incline is steep, and when I go up I find myself in the rear of an upstairs closet. Below me Jodi and the agent are still talking. I push through the clothes hanging in front of me and open the door.

I’m in the master bedroom now. A king-sized bed stands in front of me, but something’s funny about it, and when I look closer I think that it might be two single beds pushed together. It’s covered by a spread. I stop for a moment to think. I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong. We came here to see the house, and when people show their homes they take out everything of value so that they won’t have to worry. I go to the window. Framing it is a new-looking lace curtain, pinched up in a tieback. I look out at a crabapple tree and some telephone wires and try to calculate where the ocean might be. The shadows point west, but the coastline is irregular in this area and juts in different directions. The view of the crab apple is pretty, spotted with shade and light—but then I see that in the corner behind the curtain the glass is splintered and has been taped. I lift the curtain and look at the pane. The crack spreads like a spiderweb. Then I walk back to the bed. I flatten my hands and slip them into the crevice between the two mattresses, and w’hen I extend my arms the two halves come apart. I push the beds back together and sit down. Then I look into the corner, and my heart skips because I see that against the far wall, half-hidden by the open door, is an old woman in a chair.

“Excuse me,” I say.

“That’s all right,” she says. She folds her hands. “The window cracked ten years ago.”

“My wife and I are looking at the house.”

“I know.”

I walk to the window. “A nice view,” I say, pretending to look at something in the yard. The woman doesn’t say anything. I can hear water running in the pipes, some children outside. Tiny, pale apples hang among the leaves of the tree.

“You know,” I say, “we’re not really looking at the house to buy it.”

I walk back to the bed. The skin on the woman’s arms is mottled and hangs in folds. “We can’t afford to buy it,” I say. “I don’t make enough money to buy a house and—I don’t know why, but my wife wants to looks at them anyway. She wants people to think we have enough money to buy a house.”

The woman looks at me.

“It’s crazy,” I say, “but what are you going to do in that kind of situation?”

She clears her throat. “My son-in-law,” she begins, “wants to sell the house so he can throw the money away.” Her voice is slow, and I think she has no saliva in her mouth. “He has a friend who goes to South America and swallows everything, and then comes back through customs with a plastic bag in his bowel.”

She stops. I look at her. “He’s selling the house to invest the money in drugs?”

“I’m glad you don’t want to buy,” she says.

I MIGHT HAVE HAD A SMALL CAREER IN BASEBALL, BUT I’ve learned in the past eleven years to talk about other things. I was twenty-three the last pitch I threw. The season was over and Jodi was in the stands in a wool coat. i was about to get a college degree in physical education. I knew how to splint a broken bone and how to cut the grass on a golf green, and then I decided that to turn your life around you had to start from the inside. I had a coach in college who said he wasn’t trying to teach us to be pro ballplayers; he was trying to teach us to be decent people.

When we got married. I told Jodi that no matter what happened, no matter where things went, she could always trust me. We’d been seeing each other for a year, and in that time I’d been reading books. Not baseball books. Biographies; Martin Luther King, Gandhi. To play baseball right you have to forget that you’re a person; you’re muscles, bone, the need for sleep and food. So when you stop, you’re saved by someone else’s ideas. This isn’t true just for baseball players. It’s true for anyone who’s failed at what he loves.

A friend got me the coaching job in California, and as soon as we were married we came west. Jodi still wanted to be an actress. We rented a room in a house with six other people, and she took classes in dance in the mornings and speech in the afternoons. Los Angeles is full of actors. Sometimes at parties we counted them. After a couple of years she started writing a play, and until we moved into where we are now we used to read pieces of it out loud to our six housemates.

By then I was already a little friendly with the people at school, but when I was out of the house, even after two years in Los Angeles, I was alone. People were worried about their own lives. In college I’d spent almost all my time with another ballplayer, Mitchell LightY, and I wasn’t used to new people. A couple of years after we graduated, Mitchell left to play pro ball in Panama City, and he came out to Los Angeles on his way there. The night before his plane left, he and I went downtown to a bar on the top floor of a big hotel. We sat by a window, and after a few drinks we went out onto the balcony. The air was cool. Plants grew along the edge, ivy was woven into the railing, and birds perched among the leaves. I was amazed to see the birds resting there thirty stories up on the side of the building. When I brushed the plants the birds rook off into the air, and when I leaned over to watch them, I became dizzy with the distance to the sidewalk and with the small, rectangular shapes of the cars. The birds sailed in wide circles over the street and came back to the balcony. Then Mitchell put his drink on a chair, took both my hands, and stepped up onto the railing. He stood there on the metal crossbar, his wrists locked in my hands, leaning into the air.

“For God’s sake,”I whispered. He leaned farther out, pulling me toward the railing. A waiter appeared at the sliding door next to us. “Take it easy,” I said. “Come on down.”Mitchell let go of one of my hands, kicked up one leg, and swung out over the street. His black wingtip shoe swiveled on the railing. The birds had scattered, and now they were circling, chattering angrily as he rocked. I was holding on with my pitching arm. My legs were pressed against the iron bars, and just when I began to feel the lead, just when the muscles began to shake, Mitchell jumped back onto the balcony. The waiter came through the sliding door and grabbed him, but in the years after that—the years after Mitchell got married and decided to stay in Panama City—I thought of that incident as the important moment of my life.

I don’t know why. I’ve struck out nine men in a row and pitched to half a dozen hitters who are in the majors now, but when I think back over my life, about what I’ve done, not much more than that stands out.

AS WE LIE IN BED THAT NIGHT, JODI READS ALOLD from the real-estate listings. She uses abbreviations: BR, AC, D/D. As she goes down the page—San Marino, Santa Ana, Santa Monica—I nod occasionally or make a comment.

When I wake up later, early in the morning, the newspaper is still next to her on the bed. I can see its pale edge in the moonlight. Sometimes I wake up like this, maybe from some sound in the night, and when I do, I like to lie with my eyes closed and feel the difference between the bed and the night air. I like to take stock of things. These are the moments when I’m most in love with my wife. She’s next to me, and her face when she sleeps is untroubled. Women say now that they don’t want to be protected, but when 1 watch her slow breathing, her parted lips, I think what a delicate thing a life is. I lean over and touch her mouth.

When I was in school I saw different girls, but since I’ve been married to Jodi I’ve been faithful. Except for once, a few years ago, I’ve almost never thought about someone else. I have a friend at school, Ed Ryan, a history teacher, who told me about the time he had an affair, and about how his marriage broke up right afterward. It wasn’t a happy thing to see. She was a cocktail waitress at a bar a few blocks from school, he said. Ed told me the whole long story, about how he and the waitress had fallen in love so suddenly that he had no choice about leaving his wife. After the marriage was over, though, Ed gained fifteen or twenty pounds. One night, coming home from school, he hit a tree and wrecked his car. A few days later he came in early to work and found that all the windows in his classroom had been broken. At first I believed him when he said he thought his wife had done it, but that afternoon we were talking and I realized what had really happened.

We were in a lunch place. “You know,”Ed said, “sometimes you think you know a person.”He was looking into his glass. “You can sleep next to a woman, you can know the way she smiles when she’s turned on, you can see in her hands when she wants to talk about something. Then you wake up one day and some signal’s been exchanged— and you don’t know what it is, but you think for the first time, Maybe I don’t know her, just something. You never know what the signal is.”I looked at him then and realized that there was no cocktail waitress and that Ed had broken the windows.

I turn in bed now and look at Jodi. Then I slide the newspaper off the blanket. We know each other, I think. The time I came close to adultery was a few years ago, with a secretary at school, a temporary who worked afternoons. She was a dark girl, didn’t say much, and she wore turquoise bracelets on both wrists. She kept finding reasons to come into my office, which I share with the two other coaches. It’s three desks, a window, a chalkboard. One night I was there late, after everyone else had gone, and she came by to do something. It was already dark. We talked for a while, and then she took off one of her bracelets to show me. She said she wanted me to see how beautiful it was, how the turquoise changed color in dim light. She put it into my hand, and then I knew for sure what was going on. I looked at it for a long time, listening to the little sounds in the building, before I looked up.

“Charlie?” Jodi says now in the dark.

“Yes?”

“Would you do whatever I asked you to do?”

“What do you mean?”

“1 mean, would you do anything in the world that I asked you to do?”

“That depends,” I say.

“On what?”

“On what you asked. If you asked me to rob someone, then maybe I wouldn’t.”

I hear her roll over, and I know she’s looking at me. “But don’t you think I would have a good reason to ask you if I did?”

“Probably.”

“And wouldn’t you do it just because I asked?”

She turns away again and I try to think of an answer. We’ve already argued once today, while she was making dinner, but I don’t want to lie to her. That’s what we argued about earlier. She asked me what I thought of the house we looked at, and I told her the truth, that a house just wasn’t important toI me.

“Then what is important to you?”

I was putting the forks and knives on the table. “Leveling with other people is important to me,” I answered. “And you’re important to me.”Then I said, “And whales.” “What?”

“Whales are important to me.”

That was when it started. We didn’t say much after that, so it wasn’t an argument exactly. I don’t know why I mentioned the whales. They’re great animals, the biggest things on earth, but they’re not important to me.

“What if it was something not so bad.” she says now, “but still something vou didn’t want to do?”

“What?”

The moonlight is shining in her hair. “What if I asked you to do something that ordinarily you wouldn’t do yourself—would vou do it if I asked?”

“And it wasn’t something so bad?”

“Right.”

“Yes,” I say. “Then I would do it.”

“WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO,” sin. SAYS ON WEDnesday, “is look at another house.” We’re eating dinner. “But 1 want them to take us seriously,”she says. “I want to act as if we’re really thinking of buying it, right on the verge. You know—maybe we will, maybe we won’t.”

I take a sip of water, look out the window. “That’s ridiculous,” I1 say. “Nobody walks in off the street and decides in an afternoon whether to buy a house.”

“Maybe we’ve been looking at it from a distance for a long time,” she says, “assessing things.”She isn’t eating her dinner. 1 cooked it, chicken, and it’s steaming on her plate. “Maybe we’ve been waiting for the market to change.”

“Why is it so important to you?”

“It just is. And you said you’d do it if it was important to me. Didn’t you say that?”

“I had a conversation w ith the old woman in the yellow house.”

“What?”

“When we looked at the other house,” I say, “I went off by myself for a while. I talked w ith the old woman w ho was sitting upstairs.”

“What did you say?”

“Do you remember her?”

“Yes.”

“She told me that the owner was selling the house so he could use the money to smuggle drugs.”

“So?”

“So,” I say, “you have to be careful.”

THIS SUNDAY JODI DRIVES. THE DAY IS BRIGHT AND blue, with a breeze from the ocean, and along Santa Monica Boulevard the palm fronds are rustling. I’m in my suit. If Jodi talks to the agent about offers. I’ve decided I’ll stay to the back, nod or shrug at questions. She parks the car on a side street and we walk around the corner and go into the lobby of one of the hotels. We sit down in cloth chairs near the entrance, A bellman carries over an ashtray on a stand and sets it between us; Jodi hands him a bill from her purse. I look at her. The bellman is the age of my father. He moves away fast, and I lean forward to get my shoulder loose in my suit. I’m not sure if the lobby chairs are only for guests, and I’m ready to get up if someone asks. Then a woman comes in and Jodi stands and introduces herself. “Charlie Gordon,” I say when the woman puts out her hand. She’s in a gray pin-striped skirt and a jacket with a white flower in the lapel. After she says something to Jodi, she leads us outside to the parking circle, where a car is brought around by the valet, a French car, and Jodi and I get in back. The seats are leather.

“Is the weather always this nice?” Jodi asks. We pull out onto Wilshire Boulevard.

“Almost always,” the woman says. “That’s another thing I love about Los Angeles—the weather. Los Angeles has the most perfect weather on earth.”

We drive out toward the ocean, and as the woman moves in and out of the lines of traffic, I look around the car. It’s well kept, maybe leased. No gum wrappers or old coffee cups under the seat.

“Then you’re looking for a second home?" the woman says.

“My husband’s business makes it necessary for us to have a home in Los Angeles.”

I look at Jodi. She’s sitting back in the seat, her hand resting on the armrest.

“Most of the year, of course, we’ll be in Dallas.”

The street is curved and long with a grass island in the middle and eucalyptus along its length, and each time the ear banks, I feel the nerves bring in my gut. I look at Jodi.

I look at her forehead. I look at the way her hair falls on her neck, at her breasts, and I realize, the car shifting under us, that I don’t trust her.

We turn and head up a hill. The street twists, and we go in and out of the shade from a bridge of elms. I can’t see anything behind the hedges.

“The neighborhood is lovely,”the woman says. “We have a twenty-four-hour security patrol, and the bushes hide everything from the street. We don’t have sidewalks.”

“No sidewalks?” I say.

“That discourages sightseeing,”Jodi says.

We turn into a driveway. It heads down between two hedges to the far end, where a gravel half-circle has been cut around the trunk of a low, spreading fig tree. We strip, the agent opens Jodi’s door, and we get out and stand there, looking at the house. It’s a mansion.

The walls are white. There are clay tiles on the roof, sloped eaves, hanging vines. A narrow window runs straight up from the ground. Through it I can see a staircase and a chandelier. In college once, at the end of the season, the team had a party at a mansion like this one. It had windows everywhere, panes of glass as tall as flagpoles. The fellow who ow ned it had played ball for a while when he was young, and then gotten out and made big money. He was in something like hair care or combs then, and at the door each of us got a leather travel kit with our name embossed and some of his products inside. At the buffet table the oranges were cut so that the peels came off like the leather on a split baseball. He showed us through the house and then brought us into the yard. He told us that after all these years the game was still inside him. We stood on the lawn. It was landscaped with shrubs and willows, but he said he had bought the place because the yard was big enough for a 400-foot straightaway center field.

Now the agent leads us up the porch stairs. She rings the bell and then opens the door; inside, the light is everywhere. It streams from the windows, shines on the wood. falls in slants from every height. There are oriental carpets on the floor, plants, a piano. The agent opens her portfolio and hands us each a beige piece of paper. It’s textured like a wedding invitation, and at the top, above the figures, is an ink draw ing of the house. The boughs of the fig tree frame the paper. I look down at it in my hand, the way I used to look down at a baseball.

The agent motions us into the living room. From there she leads us back through a glass-walled study, wisteria and bougainvillaea hanging from the ceiling, down a hallway into the kitchen. T hrough the windows spread the grounds of the estate. Now is the time, I think to myself, w hen I should explain everything.

“I think I’ll go out back,”Jodi says. “You two can look around in here.”

“Certainly,”the agent says.

After she leaves, I pretend to look through the kitchen. I open cabinets, run the water. The tap has a charcoal filter. The agent says things about the plumbing and the foundation; I nod and then walk back into the study. She follows me.

“I know you’ll find the terms agreeable,” she says.

“The terms.”

“And one can’t surpass the house, as one can see.”

“You could fit a diamond in the yard.”

She smiles a little bit.

“A baseball diamond,”I say. I lean forward and examine the paned windows carefully. They are newly washed, clear as air. Among them hang the vines of bougainvillaea. “But some people look at houses for other reasons.”

“Of course.”

“I know of a fellow who’s selling his house to buy drugs in South America.”

She looks down, touches the flower in her jacket.

“People don’t care about an honest living anymore,” I say.

She smiles and looks up at me. “They don’t,” she says. “You’re absolutely right. One sees that everywhere now. What line of work are you in, Mr. Gordon?”

I lean against the glassed wall. Outside, violet petals are spinning down beneath the jacarandas. “We’re not really from Dallas,” I say.

“Oh?”

Through the window I see Jodi come out onto the lawn around the corner of the house. The grass is beautiful. It’s green and long like an outfield. Jodi steps up into the middle of it and raises her hands above her head, arches her back like a dancer. She was in a play the first time I ever saw her, stretching like that, onstage in a college auditorium. I was in the audience, wearing a baseball shirt. At intermission I went home and changed my clothes so that I could introduce myself. That was twelve years ago.

“No,”I say to the agent. “We’re not really from Dallas. We moved outside of Dallas a while back. We live in Highland Park now.”

She nods.

“I’m an investor,” I say.