I know there’s little balm for so much of the trauma and lack that surrounds me. Some folks hold signs by highway ramps, while others cope with levels of crimes, public safeties and private discretions. Still, it spooked me to notice someone doing Something Like That in my rear view this afternoon.
The day starts easier and better if you know what you have to do at the beginning, getting out of bed, out of the house, out of the car and out of your feelings, and continuing on until it’s time to get up and leave and get into the car, into the flow of traffic, into your town, into another night.
We got in a little wander along a side road behind the cemetery after a semi-usual midmorning creekside greenway lap. Up the road, it was hilly and remarkably quiet for being close to the interstate: deprecated wooden stairs behind backyards, a random free library box, a few big eucalyptus trees.
A quiet day, doing what I know how to do from experience, vigilant and diligent, fueled by snacks and the stillness of the room, and waiting for shift end before turning up speakers and racing my worries back to my side of the bridge, my corner of the country, past full parking lots at the spot.
Paid for a series of yesterdays, with futile and fruitless trips to the newsroom, a store and the post office, and now I’ve got a box I might as well open tomorrow. Also ahead: a shift, and then another day away, and then rinse and repeat next week with time away. Sometimes work covers a few costs.
Company came with skills, carrying uncanny resonances and telling stories about gifts for kids, financial twists of fate, military service and memories of the neighborhood from decades ago. Suddenly, there’s a new vanity, kitchen shelves and a random hallway shelf, with even more space to come.
There might be a handyperson coming through tomorrow to help swap out a bathroom mirror, install some kitchen furnishings and mount some guitar hooks on a wall. We used a walk to weigh plans and picked up refreshments in case they’re peckish. If they have a beard and wear red, I’ll bite my tongue.
Nothing went right for about half a day, until it did. A couple of hours chasing a slow motion lightning strike is never fun, especially when the chicken dance to catch Zeus’s eye doesn’t work. But then you search for something else, and what you didn’t know you needed falls right in front of you.
Weird relief on several levels was the day’s vibe: a returning rhythm of work against the holiday run up, chopping off ten days’ facial scruff, bracing for strangeness only to find clarity and familiarity in an algorithm-suggested album, driving slow in morning rain, the just-dodged nighttime gig.
When the smoke goes up, you grab your phone and jacket, slap your chest to make sure your key card is still in your shirt pocket, put on your hat and stride toward the elevator and down and out to the street for a slow trot toward the scene of the only real story happening that day: someone’s loss.