Christopher Gardea
4 min readFeb 16, 2021


We are now at the point where we have to touch base almost everyday. We do this mostly to remind one another of what might happen should we choose to move back home. Apparently home is El Paso despite having lived in Chicago for over three years. I imagine this is a common phenomenon and an innate magnetism to what is quantifiable, repeatable; home.

In the case that we do move back, according to our conversational spreadsheets, we’re looking at much of the same give and take a few amenities and environmental features. The lake is something I would definitely miss — I often repeat this fact during these small coffee chats. The troubles she will raise about the move, or potential move, are more concrete compared to the airy cosmetics I can’t let go of. Aside from the tomorrow-factor of moving we are living in different timelines. Or at the very least, fixated upon different directions while stuck in the same point.

Shortly after today’s breakdown, I chose to run some errands. It was long overdue that the car felt habitable instead of a jungle ride. Without a proper air-conditioner for the summer I was typically turned off by the idea of travel — short or long distance. Once we wrapped up projections for maybe moving, I explained that I might be able to fix the AC for cheap. In a rare instance of ingenuity and resourcefulness I discovered my own inner mechanic; I’m no car-guy. However, with the saddling pressures of moving something in me felt a curious inkling to change — change something. I didn’t know why or what.

The day before I experienced something similar. Somewhere between a shower and breakfast I felt the need to repair a video game controller that had been dead out of the box and that we never had the sense to return. Somewhere in that time I told myself I needed to take it apart because something was in there that needed my help. Everyday that poor little device was begging for help but I always turned a blind eye. She looked at me with a crick in her smile when I finally brought it to the kitchen table along with a pinky-sized screwdriver and a case of other tools. You’re not going to take that thing apart, are you? Of course I was. I did. And in an hour I had it working like new; the new-new it was supposed to be.

But this morning I needed more than an hour. I needed something more than time. It had almost nothing to do with the air-conditioner or the car. It had nothing to do with the fact that I chose to walk fifteen-minutes to the auto store. For some reason I just wanted to fix something that I neglected for so long.

I don’t have children but I felt like a bad father. I think that’s what the talks about moving do to me — they become and animate the decisions I’ve made here in Chicago and so I feel compelled to compensate for missing all those baseball games and recitals.

There is this trumpet player that follows me whenever I walk around and all he plays is sad tunes — music I’ve never heard before. But I still know it’s sad. He’s got this soft pink dollop that rocks in and out of the trumpet bell and it cries out like I don’t know what; like a myth. He comes real close over my shoulder and the brass kisses the warm skin on my ears. My ears are always red. My ears are apple wedges. When I finally make it back to the car with the refrigerant I like the fact that I must look like I know what I’m doing to the people passing by.

The sun is hot on the skin of my propped arms but not nearly as hot as the engine block after idling. The belts are cycling so fast near my face as I reach in. They go shoop-shoop, shoop-shoop.Everything is vibrating horse drawn carriage because it is all connected to the heart of the car and the spinning that is in the air is the sound of a fuming halo humming above my downcast eyes. Everything in there under the hood curves down for drainage. When I find the low-pressure valve, I connect the canister I bought for thirty-dollars.

When the hood slams shut like a clam I stuff a thin manila receipt into my back pocket and return to the wheel. I just feel the cool air jump out at me, nothing else.

He sees me sitting in the car but he doesn’t know that I’m the best dad when I pop the hood.



Christopher Gardea

I write about people in the desert, American culture. The occasional essay.