Tuesday, October 18, 2005

October 18

The Grim Ratter


October 18 is the day my father died. October 18 is the day my nephew was born. I love them both. Really, October 18 is just a date.


Darkness and Light

The thunderstorms raged on through the night. Once again, Orion snuggled against me. He’d fallen asleep as we counted between flashes and roars. We were awakened just after midnight by a booming louder than those we dreamt through, then the shaking started. It was the second earthquake of the night, only a 4.6, but nearby. Earthquakes in the middle of thunderstorms were a bit over the top, even for a weather witch like me.
But today, the desert is like a jewel. Every wet surface is a bright piece of sky. We’re driving home from school, after a stop at McDonalds. Orion munches on fries and I’ve just worked a little piece of burger from between my teeth, wondering if it’s actually digestible. Beak likely. Snout. I’d wanted a salad, but they refused to give me one without chicken in it, unless I bought a burger too…
No matter. I’m driving over Gene Autry toward the mountains. Zero 7 reminds me once again how I once loved jazz. It’s sixty eight degrees. All the windows are open and my hair blows all about. The air smells like cool water…
I’m taken back to another time, driving in my MGB with the top down, listening to Charlie Mingus and oh so high. Back then I was sure the only time I was sane was when I was high. Back then it was probably true. But not now. My lab coat would be folded in the seat beside me, held down by a couple of heavy text books. There’d been a small body in the morgue this morning. Dr. Bill had warned me. But I was young with the taste of Fearless in my mouth. Death was for strangers on metal tables in green tiled rooms. Even my grandmother was still tooling about. Then here she was. Slight shoulders, delicate seven-year-old hands. A fall, the file said. We’d see. Bluish double slashes like elongated vampire bites fell randomly across the arms and shoulders, one set marred a pale cheek.
“I think, electrical cord,” said Dr. Bill.
“I think I quit.” I said.

Some things never go away. We live with those things, or live in them.

The desert is like a jewel. Zero 7 didn’t exist when I spent hours in green tiled rooms. That was another life. Almost somebody else. I’m driving toward home. It’s sixty eight degrees. All the windows are open and my hair blows all about. The air smells like cool water. I breathe it in, soak it up.
I feel well and lovely in a light that bathes everything in beauty. This is nice, but I’ll be glad to be home. It’ll be dark soon.


K said...

I've just finished reading "True Tales of American Life" (ed. Paul Auster).

That piece reminded me of those, but is probably more lyrical, beautiful and sad than any.

drowsyrabbit said...

This is beautiful and poignant. So moving.

I read your blog regularly but haven't posted before, so now I am doing. Hi :)

Really_Rather_Not_Nice said...

It is so strange to me how a song, a smell, a shade of color, an old toy ... how all these things can forcibly wrench us from the present and remind us of the aliens we used to be. Horrible people, wonderful, happier people, places and things that no longer exist for better or worse... old echoes of the younger lives we used to live.

I have never been that close to human death. And I know that the time is drawing near when I will have to deal with it somehow, in some way.

Carl V. said...

My condolensces for the passing of your father. Regardless of how recent it has been it has to be hard to deal with the loss of a parent. I am not at all ready for this to occur in my own life and dread the day I have to deal with it. It is kind of a poignant reminder of the cycle of life that you have a family birth on the same day.