Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday Musings, 22 August 2015

Good morning,

The east shines with the risen sun.  Coffee at my side, paper skimmed and tossed in the recycle box, I sit in my old rocker listening to the call of the crow in the maple. I lingered over-long asleep today, whether from the effects of the anti-viral or just exhaustion, I cannot say.  But eight o'clock drew near before I lurched down to the kitchen and now an hour has lapsed.  A jet slices the sky with its wake of noise; a strange bird whose song I cannot place chirps in the gutter above me.

I passed a milestone this week, the thirtieth year since my mother's death.  But I also seem to have stepped beyond some point that I had not seen coming, the point at which my emotions dropped jagged to a harrowing depth and began their climb back to the soft expanse above me.  I can't say how it happened because I did not see it coming.

On my trip to California, I experienced three aggravating falls when the trunk of my rental car flew into my face and knocked me backward.  The first time this happened, I lay on the parking lot for an eternity, wondering what I could grab to hoist myself upright.  The second time, the hotel owner stood near and instantly lifted me from the pavement.  On the third occasion, a young desk clerk did the same.

But that first time, outside Room 102 of the Stanford Motor Inn, I lay for some moments caught in the sensation of eternity, of falls suffered, of other ground beneath my back.

Our driveway in Jasper, Arkansas.  1988.  I've parked the Buick Century wagon and Chester has gone into the house with a grey cloud over his head.  We argued on the way down the mountain; not a serious argument, but one tainted with unspoken burdens -- his joblessness, my yearning to return to the city, the lure of his land on Reynolds Mountain where we've begun to build a road but on which we cannot afford to build a home.  

I sit in the silence of the vehicle.  I think about going into the house and calling my father.  I run one finger around the steering wheel and gaze out the window, seeing the large yard, the sheltering hedge, the roof of the building beyond our rented property.  Through the passenger window, I see the separate entrance in our home which leads to the little room where I'm trying to have a law practice, in a town of six hundred which already has four lawyers.  I lay my head against the headrest and close my eyes.  I try to remember why we came to this place, why we left Kansas City for Little Rock and then came Northwest, to the mouth of the Buffalo River and the little town which serves as Newton County's seat of government.  I feel certain that it seemed like a good idea when we were packing, but sitting in the driveway, in  my blue Buick, amidst the lingering simmer of my husband's anger, I cannot recall any of the arguments on the pro side of the debate.

I get out of the car and close the door.  Then I see my  pocketbook sitting on the floor and reach for the door handle, pulling it towards me -- and I go flying backwards, landing flat on my back in the grass, holding the handle, lying, unable to move, with the keenness of the cloudless sky above me.

I hear the door to the house slam open and the thud of Chester's boots on the driveway.  Then I feel him lift me, feel his hands beneath my body and the warmth of him as he sets me on my feet.  We stand, facing one another for a few seconds and then I hold out my hand which still clutches the door handle.

"How could this just come off?" I ask him.  He looks down, and then, reaching out, uncurls my stiffened fingers and gently removes the piece of broken plastic from my clutch.

He gazes at me, raises one hand to brush my hair from my face and replies, "Accumulated stress."

And then we go into the house together.

Now, here, in this place far from those Ozark mountains, I have relived that moment.  I greet the neighbor's house-guest who strolls down the driveway en route to the sidewalk and reach for my coffee, draining the cooled liquid.  I raise my hand to feel the lump on the back of my head which I got when I fell in the bedroom on the evening before I left for California, the injury which those three parking lot falls inhibited from healing.  I cross one foot over the other and rock the chair -- the chair which I rescued from the trash so many years ago, when a law school classmate packed for her return to the East Coast and could not fit this last item in her U-Haul trailer.  Cars drive by, the noise which they make signalling that the drivers have ignored the speed limit.  I hear a train whistle, faint and long; a siren, closer; and the birds in my maple -- always, the birds.

My friend Brenda walks by on her way to yoga class, calling my name, lifting her arm in a cheerful wave.  I sing out in reply:  Good morning!  Did you get your brother to the airport? Off to Yoga?, and then she is past, yoga mat shouldered on one side, arms swinging, shoulders set.  I think about getting another cup of coffee; about going to the Y; about cleaning the house.  But for a moment, I just sit and breathe.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.