I was hungry at eight pm. I hadn’t had dinner, a light lunch, small breakfast. I got the keys for the car and walked out. It was dark out. It was warm, and the neighbors were all around the fire pit. Too nice, I didn’t want to take the car.
I’ve gone on lots of walks around my neighborhood but not often at night. I left the complex and walked along the road. There weren’t enough streetlights to see where my feet were going. A breeze, fast traffic, dead leaves. I walked three familiar blocks but they weren’t familiar anymore.
Night takes away your day to day securities. You can’t stand on the foundations you’ve built up. But you get back something better, its rough, it’s filling, it’s uncomfortably you.
I ended up buying takeout at the Mediterranean. The pita stayed hot the whole way home.
I woke up early and walked outside. It smelled like autumn but looked like summer – all the trees soaked in sangria sunlight, kids outside, cracked egg. I wanted to walk. My body needed moving. So I walked for thirty minutes to the strip mall nearby.
When I got there, the parking lot was already crowded. Lines out the door of the grocery story. Saturday or not, people had their lives to lead, and they were leading them through the weekend motions. The store had their pumpkins out in three-tiered towers. There were red ones and white ones, but mostly orange.
I didn’t stop at the grocery. I walked past the Staples. There’s a local store selling beets and wheatgrass ground up into drinks and powders, I bought a fruit smoothie from them and it tasted like a pina colada. It was good.
Walking home, I talking on the phone with a friend. It felt bright to be alive without any walls around me, and nice to share that feeling with someone else.
I got up early to go walking. I ran into a woman and her dog. The dog’s name was ‘Spock.’ I asked if he was an intergalactic traveler. She said ‘Yes.’ Spock licked my shoes.
It was a nice morning. People were out. Quite a bit cooler, overcast, waiting to rain. Later, after lunchtime, I went with E to Lazy Days in downtown Cary. It’s an art walk, a craft walk, a reason for the city to come together, and it happens each year but this is the first time I’d attended. Downtown was packed with people. There were only a few places to park. We walked by the old buildings swinging our umbrella and then we crossed the train-tracks and heard a proselytizer. He had a loudspeaker. He said ‘Give up your life of sin and reclaim your life of God.’
The food was alright. I had yuca fries for the first time. They were sweeter and softer than potatoes. After an hour, I had plans, so I left E with some friends and walked back across the train tracks on my own. I saw lots of people. Five women wearing pink on a Southern porch. A man in a Trump hat. Two college kids talking about oppression.
Next to my car were four more proselytizers, only these were buttoned up like Sunday and speaking Spanish. I don’t know if there’s a God. If you put my life on the line for it, I’d bet there isn’t. But today felt holy because everyone was out in the open – together – waiting for the rain.
I talked to a couple from Bangladesh yesterday. I did my best pronouncing their names. They did their best pronouncing mine. It felt good to make mistakes together. She’s working part-time at department stores and fast food, he’s sticking to the burger line. He told me he has a Masters from Bangladesh but none of the American jobs will acknowledge the degree.
I got a little lost last night, though in the tempered way you know you’ll come back from. We walked a trail through a dark forest and found that the trail had changed. It forked at a clearing where the sky broke open to show off her stars. There was an old shack and a basketball court, sand set out for beach volleyball. All of it looked silky in the moonlight, like the spiderwebs we’d been tangled in along the way.
I’ve been thinking about communication, what it takes to know someone. Sometimes the best way to say ‘I appreciate you’ is by putting your lips around a person’s name (no matter how complicated you find it). Other times, words are only the boards on the bridge and not its suspension – to get to the other side, you string a line between each other, stretching, until the two ends touch.
This afternoon, I stood by a tree for five minutes watching a squirrel. It was on the trunk. It had a white mushroom. At first, the squirrel got nervous and stopped eating. When I didn’t make any quick movements, the squirrel gnawed off the top of the mushroom and dropped its stalk. It climbed a few more feet. It circled the tree but came back to look at me. It’s little heart was beating so fast you could see it chattering through its teeth. Its eyes were neutron stars. For those five minutes, I felt like we understood each other. Then came a late summer breeze that blew us both away.
I took a walk. I ran into a guy and his dog. The dog’s name was Jarvin. He was a puppy – Jarvin, not the guy. He pulled the leash when he saw me. I asked if I could pet him. The owner said ‘Okay.’ I walked across the road and Jarvin met me. He put his paws on my hips and his nose in my belly. I’d got a bit of his fur. Quickly, though, Jarvin lost interest. There were gnats on a clover patch. He chased them around.
Sometimes the nicest thing in the world is to know the name of someone else’s pet. Casually intimate, like a bathroom towel. The next time I see the dog I’ll say ‘Jarvin!’ and he’ll look at me or maybe he won’t. And his owner will wave and we’ll smile with a knowing, ‘this person’s safe enough, I can trust them as far as the end of this leash.’ Neighborly. And rare. No-one has the courage to say hello anymore, and no-one has the space to get to know someone in any more intimacy than passing.
Anyway, I’m tired. I’ve got a few days vacation. I’ll have more to say then.
There’s a certain kind of smell that only surfaces in early evening. It’s got to be light out, but not so light that you’re comfortable putting one foot in front of the other. It’s got to be warm, not hot, and cool, not cold. There should be leaves on the trees but not so many leaves that you can’t see the shapes scurrying through the branches. Somewhere within walking distance – but out of sight – must be a moderately busy road.
The back of your lover’s neck coaxed out from under the covers, eight hours of untouched time still sticking to it. That’s the smell.
I’m off one drug and onto another. The past week has been exhausting, a bad reaction, a panic attack without the panic. I’ll start the new drug, an SSRI, on Monday, and who knows whether it will help me, or change me, or do anything at all to me, but I’m interested (and a little apprehensive) about the ride.
There’s no one answer to life. But there are evenings where the air smells like old memories, and that’s usually enough.
I’ve been trying to take my mornings back. The past two weeks I’ve set the alarm clock a little early, and it’s been hard, I’ve been tired, but today I woke up at 6:40 without asking my little blinking clock to guide me and that felt very good.
A part of my early mornings has been starting the day with walks. Nothing far, usually to the office to get coffee. It’s bad coffee, and I miss twisting up the beans with my hand-held grinder, but for now it’s a good excuse to move. Today, E came with me. We went to the lounge via the back way, through the gym (that always smells like yoga mats). There was no-one in the office this early. That was good – it meant this time was ours.
On the way back, mugs full, we stopped off at the community garden where E keeps a plot. She’s growing watermelons, though you wouldn’t know it by the tiny sprigs poking out of the ground. Next to her plot was an overgrown rose bush but the roses had withered and next to that were bright yellow squash flowers. Hornets buzzed between the plots like Monday traffic. A bright green lizard skated in and out of view.
At home, I took my coffee to the porch and wrote a little. I watched our flock of geese chasing each other through the grass. I read a message from a friend who was struggling with her sexuality. I cut an onion on sliced bread and ate it with sharp cheddar. All of this had me in the morning. There was a long, busy day that followed, but that’s another story. The early morning was enough.
Currently Reading: NOTHING! Couldn’t get back into Bourdain, no matter how much I tried; will pick a new book soon