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I walked downtown for my haircut. Walking back, playing Frogger with the five lanes of traffic on Grand River, I stopped in the parking lot of the apartment and got my car to drive over to get Michael. He needed a follow-up doctor appointment today for his burn, and I hadnít been able to raise him on the cell or the house phone. When I got to the house, I was met by a strange young man wandering about in the family room. ďMikeís still sleeping,Ē he said without preamble. ďThought so, ďI said and went downstairs to roust him.
Now the skies darken outside and the lightening crackles overhead. The air has been oppressive, in the high eighties, with bright sun and high humidity. This rain might cool things off. You can count on a ten-degree drop in the temperature when the rain cuts loose like this. I left Michael at the doctor and went outside, found a secluded table in a shaded corner, and sat down to cry for a little while. Then I went back to the car where there were Kleenex and where there was air conditioning, and where there was a charger for my cell.
I am becoming a recluse. I am apprehensive about other people. I want to clean my apartment, oddly enough. My body is tired. I am sleepy. Iíll type for a half hour and then clean on the kitchen, working my way into the living room. I was supposed to be putting together a life by now. Maybe that is my hall pass for life right now. I am getting through pain. That is my excuse for not taking the next step. But even as I deny it, I am starting to think it through. These things are not necessarily sequential
I knocked on Tomís door and there was no answer. I opened it and saw two lumps under the blankets. That means he didnít go to work today. Today must be a travel day for him. I need to talk to him about telling me when he is home. Maybe we can get signs. Tom is ďINĒ. Dad is ďOUT.Ē That would work until we forgot to change the signs. But then I might know to put on the headphones in the morning. Living with another person involves some inconveniences, but when they are considerate, it is not so bad.
Itís a gorgeous day, 75, sunny and clear. Iíve opened up the windows on three sides of the apartment. I took a nap around one and finally made it out for something to eat around 4. I stopped at the house on the way to see how Michael was doing, but the house was empty. The doors were wide open, and two televisions going. Mattresses had been placed in the family and living rooms. Lights on, but no one home. Well, heíll have some cleaning up to do before his mother gets home tomorrow morning. Thatís how he does it.
Iíve been tired all day, unable or unwilling to move. This is the first thing I have set finger to really. It was near at hand. The psychiatrist upped my Ativan prescription to five a day. I told him it had been a rough month, and as I ticked off some of the reasons, I could see why. He reminded me that I had limitations and needed to take better care of myself. And then he told the psychologist to call me for an extra appointment. Maybe I should have done that myself, but my brain has been off somewhere.
I watched ďGeorgia RulesĒ last night. At the end of the movie, I am ticking off who has somebody to be with. With this movie, it is nobody. In movies you see lots of people who live by themselves, though. Frequently they are older people. You see people who have problems with their marriages and people who donít. They do emphasize sex, but it is often portrayed as a mistake, or meaningless. Often people my age live by themselves, or they live in a big house or on a ranch with a friend. Frequently they have blurry means of support.
When I got up I found a note on Tomís door. ďI am home dad and probably sleeping.Ē There were a pair of littler shoes next to Tomís little shoes near the door, and a pack of Newport on the coffee table. Heather, I thought. Tom says they are not in a relationship, that they are just ďhanging outĒ or something. It looks like ďrelationshipĒ to me. They seem to be a cute couple. They fit in a happy way. She is quite a bit younger than he is, but he too is quite a bit younger than he is.
There is a new purchased movie open near the TV. Crank. They watched crank last night while I slept. I must have been sleeping very heavily. Usually the subwoofer wakes me up. I am thinking to tell him he shouldnít buy these movies at Wal-Mart, that I get a twenty per cent discount on that stuff where I work. But Tom is busy working. He and I have talked about this. It is true that people who are busy working tend to exchange money for time. It costs more to work because you spend money to buy back your time.
I was thinking to watch a movie tonight, but Iím not sure I have time. That would take two hours, and I really would like to make it to bed by eleven tonight. What is it I should be when I have already done a full dayís worth of stuff? I donít owe anything else, do I?
I rub my neck, and my eyelashes become entangled, blurring the light from the lamp. I yawn. I am not sleepy. I am nothing really. I am a human being facing the hours. No, that is not enough. That is not nearly enough.
Canít go swimming any more. The pool turned green a month ago and even though Melissa said she hoped to have it back together within a week, it is now a darker green, going into brown. I knew when Melissa said she was going to fix it that she was saying one thing and knowing another. My awareness of this in people has increased lately. As the thing slides off their tongue, there is no substance behind it. Frequently, they donít even know they are doing it. The lie is put forth not to cause trouble, but to avoid it.
I should go grocery shopping. Iíve not done it for a week now. I eat out a lot instead. I think about going, but I donít know what to buy. A shower curtain. Some coffee cream. There must be more than that. It seems everything you eat has something wrong with it. I am confused about what to eat. I have been for a long time. I know my body responds better to a high protein diet though. But any diet that leans toward one thing becomes boring, and Iíve really not been excited about eating for a while now.
I hear the wail of a train passing through town. I remember sleeping as a boy outside Saint Paris, a half mile from the DTI tracks. I remember running over those tracks, walking those rails, riding the school bus over them. Then one year while I was gone they just pulled the tracks up and sold the land they were on. I still look for trains at that point in the road when I drive by there, my foot hovering over the brake. I remember the cool night air bathing my face as the gates glowed, clanged, and came down.
I could walk down to a bar, but I doní want to eat or drink or have a social encounter. I could go do the grocery shopping I have been putting off or read, but there was something I wanted to write about, although I have forgotten what it was. Now, here, there is just me and this keyboard and screen. There is the night reflecting my image back at me. There is a noise from the hot water heater as it changes shape, once again bringing the temperature of the water up to the set point on the thermostat.
His mother comes out onto the front walk. She is holding a sleepy chicken. Deftly with a single slice, she cuts off its head and holds it by its feet over the grass to bleed out onto the lawn. Then she cuddles it to her breast, the blood smearing across the buttons on her blouse. Her small brown eyes. The door slams behind her, an old wooden screen door with a long rusty spring. For a moment, he sees his father sitting inside the house, eyes transparent, unmoving in his chair, a look of permanent mild surprise on his face.
It was rainy this morning, and it is also rainy this afternoon. I slept nine and one-half hours last night, and I remember hearing Michael Jr. passing by on his motorcycle on his way to school this morning. I remember it in half sleep because it didnít wake me completely. But the sound was there, making me conscious of the early morning air. There will come a point where I do not hear him at all when he passes by. I hope it is not too soon, because I like the sound of him passing through my world that way.
I have things to do today. I want to finish the book, ďThe Falls,Ē by JCO, so I can get started on the Jim Harrison book. I want to take a long walk. I would like to view a movie, and I need to do something about food. Actually, I donít need to. I have stuff here I can and have eaten before. Perhaps Iíll pick up some ham and shrooms to go into the eggs. Ok, Iíll walk to the grocery for a few things. So, other than the store, it will be a stay-in day barring the unforeseen.
I donít understand what is happening to me. It feels like a purification ritual. I donít feel dirty though. I donít feel I need purified. I am already cooked down to the basic elements. I have no history; no present or future. I walk the city feeling like the invisible man. I walk across streets and the traffic continues and I reach the other side unharmed. I walk through doors that are closed. I knock stuff off shelves and when I look the shelves are untouched. I slap an old man standing at a register, and he doesnít look up.
I am beyond tired. ďYou are exhausted,Ē my doctor says. ďYou are killing yourself.Ē I know this. I can see it. I have trouble finding a way to stop it.
Itís evening now, creeping across the glen below like the most perfect summer evenings do here. I am tired in my chest, my arms, and in my legs. I can tell when the Ativan starts wearing off, because I start crying again for no reason.
Only there is reason. There is always a reason, many of them. Sometimes you cannot reach them. Sometimes you do not want to reach them.
I took a nap this afternoon. And I made a candle. Unfortunately, the mold fell over at one point, spilling hot wax all over the counter and into the sink. It actually clogged the disposal. I filled the sink with hot water and got the disposal going. I cleaned up most of the wax while it was semi-hard which meant it came off in nice clean sheets. The dishes will be tougher. Iíll use hot soapy water to wash them. I have enough wax to make another candle, so I may do that tomorrow before I clean up this mess.
The air has turned cooler. Iíve switched from air conditioning to heat, although I donít use it during the day. Outside People are digging the weather. Leaves are starting to turn. My third autumn here. I wonder what this winter will bring. I wonder where I will take this winter. Things move much more slowly than you think they will. Time however; life continues to accelerate. I think most people must get to the end of their lives startled at how little they have accomplished. I know it startles me even though I have generally lived a very full life.
I have my spare bedroom back now, although it is still clogged with Tomís stuff. He took about half of his things with him when he moved out. Eventually, I will have to decide what to do with his stuff. I know he now views my spare bedroom as a personal storage space. He comes to get things, but he also brings things to leave. Iíll have to give some thought to how I will deal with this. It may not be a bad thing. It is a problem only if I want to do something different with the room.
Last night I dreamt the office, the neon lights and the cube farm. I wasnít a worker; I was just there. They were sending people on assignments to do feature stories. One man was going out for a week. I wanted to go with them. The admin was complaining that their coffee was too cold. I took the machine apart to adjust the temperature. It had a little plastic ratchet inside for that, and I set the temp from 95 to 185. She insisted on 185. I told her it might be too hot, but that was what she wanted.
As I passed the gas station on the corner, I saw Michael Jr. filling his motorcycle. I walked up to him aggressively saying, ĎHey, you owe me some money.Ē He jumped as if he had been grabbed, and then grinned at me. The bike tires were wet. I pointed that out to him. He said he had just washed the bike because it was senior picture day. ďWeíre supposed to get the pictures taken outdoors. Iím getting mine taken with my bike. But I donít know, ď he said scanning the skies. ďDoesnít look like a good outdoor picture day.Ē
I stopped in at BAB for a breakfast special, a BLT on a bagel (whole wheat, not toasted, please) with cream cheese. Sat there reading the paper while I ate, and noticed an article where several people had been killed north of here by a pack of dogs. A Doberman had taken out a baby a week earlier. Some people were expressing concern that the dogs might be put down if found. I would express concern that they might not be put down. The way a pack of dogs will work a victim is scary. Iíve been there. Itís evil.
I remember a time when I was a small boy. The Shultz boys on the hill got a pair of boxing gloves. I wanted to box, so they gave me a pair of the huge things and Roger and I squared off. He knocked me down again and again, the fight seeming to go forever. Finally, Roger just stopped, tore off his gloves, and threw them on the ground saying, ďIím tired of hitting him.Ē
Sometimes, when I have a seizure, I wake up in the middle of that fight again, on the ground, my nose buzzing from a punch.
Riding home with Tom and Heather the other night, driving the 25mph zone by the cemetery, we were stopped when a deer stepped out in front of us. We waited. I was thinking to say, ďWatch out for the second one.Ē Tom started the car, and then slammed on the brakes as we nearly hit the second one which none of us had seen. It is always there though, the second deer, the third, fourth, or as many as twenty. Once it was the 13th that nearly beaned me as I started my car deciding they had all finally crossed.
I woke this morning still in a dream. I must have been thinking about the Harrison book, because the dream involved deep burial, which led to falling into a crevasse in a glacier. The part near the bottom was melted. There was a shallow dome with grass, yellow from the lack of sun. That it got any was a surprise to me. And then I was thinking about the glacier moving, crushing me perhaps, and as I woke up more I was thinking about the houses slowly swallowed by the giant sand dunes wandering across the shores of Lake Michigan.
I saw Michael Jr. at the supermarket when I went to get some cream and garbage bags. I think Iíll fix myself an omelet for dinner and watch a movie. Right now I am typing, because I havenít typed in a long time and something angry inside me wishes to write some poetry to take up my space in the world. I am starting to worry that I may be deteriorating mentally. I cannot tell. Sometimes I am ok. But something is not right with my thinking lately. I need to touch someone else to get a fix on coordinates.
It is cool out, yet I get so much morning sun that I open windows to let in the breeze. The fall breeze agrees with me. I can breathe. Autumn air seems clearer. Are our eyes cleaner in the fall? Do we see more clearly?
It makes me wonder whether there is a season that clarifies the eyes of the soul, or of the heart, or however many parts there are of us that can only feel and be touched but cannot be identified by a doctor, nor scanned, nor sliced out. I am ready for a season of clarity.
Clarity. Is it a thing like war, where you are forced in whether you are ready or not? Or is it like a kitten you coax down from a tree? You take it home, feed it, and name it. Of course you name it Clarity. Then you have the vet bills and responsibilities to deal with. Your life has changed and you may not have been prepared for it. Clarity may be a thing you find only after you stop looking for it. I suspect it is ready for me as soon as I am no longer afraid of it.
The Tip Jar