- It's raining here in Atlanta, and the groundskeeper is on his mower clipping away at the campus green. I'm watching from my office window and having no feelings of adoration, which is odd because I’m always adoring something. No one, except me, can fall so head-over-heels in love with a pile of dry leaves, or a tufted titmouse, or a naked and shivering birch tree. Yet today, I feel no love at all for the great clods of wet grass lying in clumps on the lawn.
- A friend came by to fix dinner the other day. “Let me go through your cupboards before I draw up my shopping list,” he said. I tell him that all of the exotic spices he bought last time are still in the cabinet because, unlike him, I don’t need 20 different spices to make a pot of chili. “You’re out of butter,” he says. I join him in the kitchen. I point to a pound of Land-O-Lakes unsalted butter on the middle shelf. He smiles at me and says, “Butter goes in the butter dish.” He lifts the plastic door and puts the butter inside. He cooked a wonderful meal. Today the butter is back on the middle shelf.
- “It’s our inaugural event,” she says in an email, “and we’d love to have you as a panelist.” I fill out the form confirming my attendance. I know nothing about Manhattan… or New York. But I’m going anyway. I tell my friend who lives in the Bronx that I hope I don’t get mugged in Central Park. “Are you planning to go to Central Park?” She asks. I say no. She pauses and says, “You watch too much TV.”
DeaconMac is in a transitional care facility. He’s doing well. I’ve travelled from Atlanta to Chicago six times this year. This weekend will be the 7th. I tell Deacon Mac, “I’m bringing you some new outfits.”“What’s wrong with the clothes I got?”“Too many patterns and colors,” I tell him, “too much polyester and patent leather.” The 70s must’ve been good to him, but it’s time to move on.“I don’t want you wasting a lot of money on me,” he says. “I still have the suit I wore to your mother’s funeral, and what’s wrong with it?” He asks.“It’s purple, Daddy.”I called him last night to tell him I’d be there in just a couple days. “Bring me a new Kangol,” he insists. “And don’t forget my new clothes."
- I read an article about a young man being refused access to an organ transplant list, and it made me angry. And then I read a blog about an interaction between a doctor and a patient, and I was mad again. As I lay in bed that night staring at the ceiling with my teeth clenched, I came to terms with the fact that there are some things I will never get over, and I’m okay with that. It’s just the way it is.
- It’s been five years, and I have not forgotten my daughter’s voice. Yes, I admit that whenever there’s an extra chirpy bird flitting about outside the kitchen window, I often ask, “Is that you, Sal?” Or when the wind chimes are tinkling and there’s no breeze, or when I’m sitting on the deck and there’s a shadow spilling across the planks and I can’t see what’s casting it… Don’t be alarmed. These are just the little games I play to soothe myself.
But yesterday was different. I wasn’t playing games with myself or trying to read into the sights and sounds around me. I wasn’t even thinking about Nicole. I’d just come in from work and sat on the sofa with my legs curled under me. Judge Judy was on, ripping some poor soul a new one. I don’t sleep well at night, so I usually refuse myself the pleasure of an afternoon nap. But I was sleepy and allowed myself to drift off. Then I heard a sound deep in my ear near the drum, and it startled me. If sound were visible, I’d say it was a very bright sound, clear, vibrating and angular. I awoke with a start but was clueless to where the sound had come from. I settled on the idea that I had simply stumbled toward the fringes of a crazy dream. I let myself sink effortlessly back down into sleep. Again, right at sleep’s threshold, between complete control and utter abandon, the sound returned. Only this time the sound was words, two words, “thank you.” I woke up instantly and completely. I sat stunned for a few seconds, and then I cried for half an hour.
I imagine Nicole being taken in hand and cared for by someone much wiser, someone who would explain to her how things work on that side, how sometimes messages do get through. I imagine this wiser person asking, “In the event that, that infinitesimal moment presents itself and you could actually get a message through to your mother, what would you say?” And when I place those two bright, vibrating words into this scenario, my whole spirit is set ablaze. Last night I slept like a well-fed baby.
- I went whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River this weekend, five miles of class 4 rapids. It was rainy and chilly… and difficult. The river was engorged, and rowing through the heavy rapids was like rowing through blocks of cement. On at least three occasions, I had to take refuge on the floor of the raft to keep from being tossed. The river churns between two high walls of tree-covered peaks, the tops of which are shrouded in mist. They’re not called the Great Smokies for nothing. Today, three days later, every muscle in my body feels as if it’s been beaten with a rubber mallet. I look forward to doing it again.
But I have my priorities. Right now I have a trip to make. There’s a purple suit (among other things) that needs replacing. When I return, I'll get on with the business of getting on. Have I told you that the real, true me is emerging? I cannot go back to the old.