Measured Extravagance

2001-04-30 - 11:03 p.m.

There are good things on the horizon: visiting Phelps; being visited by Dichroic; celebrating my 31st birthday. There are good things in my life right now: the BYM returned from Waltzing Across Texas last night; there was petting both the pup and the cat as they nuzzled against me on the bottom step of the stairs; there's the honeysuckle in my back yard; there's hot running water. I'm doing laundry, and I haven't forgotten what it was like having to schlep it all to a laudromat across town; I'm going to soak in my bathtub soon, and I haven't forgotten what it was like living in an apartment with just a dingy shower stall. I remember when my diet was mostly eggs, spinach and cookies; tonight I cooked a pot full of cubed sweet potato, collards and garlic, stewed together with the remaining trotter and some kosher salt. Earlier, there were strawberries; later, I may have a spoonful of Haagen-Dazs, or a shot of whisky.

So, life is good. Still, for most of the day, I've been slogging through a definite case of the glums and the grumps. I brought one binder and two fat folders of work home with me, although it's all probably going to remain on the couch where I threw it. There are clients I can't dismiss, problems I can't solve, habits I can't kick. My right arm still feels like it was attacked by thirty-three jumbo mosquitoes, and the thought of repeating it all tomorrow on my left arm makes me flinch right down to the tips of my sneaker-laces - that is, the pair that isn't being attacked by the puppy just this moment as she tries to chew on everything except her rawhide and rubber toys. I can outstubborn her, but lord, it's tiring, and I'm already tired. Way, way tired. This is one of those days when I go back to one of my touchstones, a Joseph Brodsky essay titled "The Best Way Out Is Always Through":

What lies ahead is a remarkable but wearisome journey: you are boarding today, as it were, a runaway train. No one can tell you what lies ahead, least of all those who remain behind. One thing, however, they can assure you of is that it's not a round-trip. Try therefore to derive some comfort from the notion that no matter how unpalatable this or that station may turn out to be, the train doesn't stop there for good. Therefore, you are never stuck, not even when you feel you are.

As I drove away from work, I wasn't sure what to think when I saw the van stopped in the road. I slowed down as the door of the van opened and a gray-haired good ol' boy in a green polo stepped out. The other man remained in the van. I thought about wheeling my car around and fleeing, but instead of striding towards me, the man walked to the side of the road, stooped down and put his hand out...

...trying to coax a baby bunny to hop back into the brush. It refused to budge, but neither did it continue on into the road. He kept one hand in front of the bunny and quietly gestured at me to pass with the other. The bunny was no larger than his palm. Me and my little car crept by, and as I reached the highway, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to sniffle or to grin from ear to ear.

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