A place that I have never been but always wanted to go is my own front porch. I have not been there because I have never owned a house. But in this story, I am traversing circumstances to sit, and be, on my own front porch. Getting there has been a long and arduous journey. The house my porch is attached to is in the countryside somewhere, but I am not sure what country it is in. Perhaps in my mythology, the country will be called FroPo.
My house is made of wood, there is a bench swing on the porch, and honeysuckle on a trellis. The front yard is wild, a flower garden run riot; and beyond that, there is an open field with long grasses bending in the wind. A small vegetable garden graces the land on the side of the house that gets the most sun.
The other man, who is my life partner, is in this story, too, but for now, he is inside the house doing this, that, or the other; he is often creatively busy. An artist and a musician, he loves round things and O-sounds. At some point, perhaps around dusk, he will emerge from the house to sit on the porch with me. Sometimes, instead of lounging in the swing together or in chairs, we like to sit on the front steps.
That is where we settle when we string beans from our garden. And sometimes we will smoke a joint and laugh and then vie to see who can spit the furthest, since I do not like watermelon. It is a warm summer day, and so I am wearing a skirt, because I like to feel the breeze blowing up between my legs. And why not? The other man, who has spent a lot of time in Africa, sometimes wears a skirt, too. These are not store-bought items; they do not have buttons or clasps or zippers, but rather are makeshift, large swaths of cotton fabric wrapped around the waist that cascade down a foot—or three, above or below or at the knee. Sometimes I wear a t-shirt, too, whereas during the summer months the other man is almost always bare-chested, his nipples long from the pulling. Our feet are bare, which is how I was raised, walking on roads made of red clay.
I have shaved my head because it is easier to care for, and because it feels good to the hand’s rubbing; also, as I am no longer young, hair does not matter so much anymore.
There is a dog, too, of course, however it will have to be hypoallergenic because the other man is allergic. My own fondness is for cats, but is there even such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat? I will have to look it up, though our internet here is spotty, which is fine. I have heard that there is something one can put in a cat’s water to neutralize whatever it is that humans are allergic to (perhaps it is dander?), though to me that has always seemed unfair to the cat.
But where, you might be wondering, is this country in which two men (one brown, the other white) can live together in a rustic house with a front porch and a dog and wear skirts without fear: Does such a place exist beyond this story?
Robin Lipinncott is the author of six books, most recently Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell. Other books are Rufus + Syd, a YA novel co-written with Julia Watts, the novels In the Meantime, Our Arcadia, and Mr. Dalloway, as well as the story collection The ‘I’ Rejected. Lipinncott’s fiction and nonfiction has appeared in more than thirty journals, including The Paris Review, Fence, American Short Fiction, and The New York Times Book Review, and has been anthologized in Unbroken Circle: Stories of Cultural Diversity in the South, M2M: New Literary Fiction, and Rebel Yell. In addition, Lippincott has received multiple fellowships from Yaddo and also the MacDowell Colony. Lipinncott teaches in the MFA Program of the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University, and lives in the Boston area.