I survived the brutal schedule of the last two weeks. Every chair in my house bears a jacket; most surfaces hold stacks of legal pads, files which should be at my office, and clutches of unsorted mail. I paid the utility bills online but otherwise merely glanced at each day's haul from the mailbox checking for anything critical. Junk, mostly; and bound for the recycle box; but temporarily occupying space as flotsam and jetsam scattered about the place.
Once or twice each year, my docket falls apart like this. But coming on the heels of my California trip, this spate proved particularly grueling. In the middle of the span, I attended a funeral; and tomorrow, I will make a brief appearance at another. Untimely deaths, both: A young girl, and a middle-aged man who had reclaimed a broken life. I sip my tea, here on earth, and realize that both had radiant smiles; dancing eyes; loving, tender hearts.
Perhaps God needed a new crop of angels to breathe life into heaven.
I pad around the house with a touch of aimlessness while my tea brews. The tasks before me seem more daunting than the ones through which I've just safely navigated with only a few scrapes along the hull. I don't dare think about the number of laundry loads or the layer of grime on the stove from the few meals that I've managed to cook for myself. I stare at the nearly bare shelves of the refrigerator. Old Romaine; two yogurt containers; dubious-looking carrots; a half-depleted container of hummus. I close the door and go upstairs with my tea and a rice cake.
A conversation with a friend yesterday has reminded me once more of childhood and the ladies who raised me. My mother, her mother, my sisters. I reflect on our weekly bus trips to my grandmother Corley's apartment in the city; the opulence which surrounded her, as she sat ensconced in her quiet existence. I sank into the quiet, so different from the chaos of my parents' house. I lifted one child's finger to touch the china figurines, the glass birds, the gilt frames. No one scolded me as I marveled over the sheer elegance of everything I saw.
Last night I took myself to my favorite neighborhood restaurant for dinner. I had to feed myself and could not face the drudgery of shopping, exhausted and feverish, bone-weary, laden with the raw emotions of others heaped on me in the course of doing my job. Instead I sat at the counter and ordered the exact assemblage of food that I always get there: three appetizers -- pakora; spiced corn; and vegetable somosas. I strained a bit to settle myself on the high stool, but declined to occupy even a table for two on a busy Friday night. The owner raised his hand, brief thanks for my courtesy, then poured filtered water, setting a linen napkin beside me, asking after my son who used to work for him and whom he never fails to mention.
I ate my meal with my tablet open to a detective novel, translated from Norwegian, light, unchallenging. Afterwards I paid at the register and took the leftovers home for Saturday's lunch. As I pulled away from the curb to drive the three blocks to my house, I saw several families navigating the broken sidewalk towards the restaurant: A teenage girl, a young woman pushing a sleeping toddler in a blue stroller, a couple holding hands. A cat darted in front of my car and I pressed gently down on the brake pedal. As I stopped, I noticed a man watching my car, and I caught his eyes. He smiled and nodded, then walked on, into the restaurant.
I took his smile home with me. Its essence lingered far into the night, a flickering candle warding off the gloom.
Today holds errands. I will grocery shop, buy a few household needs, run to Target for a pair of tights to replace the ones that finally tore beyond usefulness this week. I have not been to my favorite curmudgeon's grave since before I left for California. Though tomorrow's service for my friend Robert will take me to the same cemetery, I want to visit Jay and Joanna's resting place today, in the quiet of the afternoon. I will lay the orange roses on Joanna's headstone, and speak a few quiet words to the lingering essence of the man whose ashes lie beneath the ground there; the man who called me "Honey" and told me he loved me, every time we met. Then I will come back home, and begin the process of setting things right in my world.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
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The Missouri Mugwump™
- M. Corinne Corley
- 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.
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