Some Days Lately
When I left the house this morning, nature's smaller bits winnowed their way up my nose and left me crying all the way to work. Allergies are a bitch. I daubed at my eyes with my blue scarf until the corner of my left eye started to feel raw.
I thought about how I had found a purple mark on the bottom of my foot when I dusted it off before putting on my socks. It seemed to hover just below the surface of my skin. It didn't hurt when I poked it, so it probably wasn't a bruise.
It's cancer, I thought.
I think everything is cancer. Once you've had it, it never goes away. I find a spot on myself that is suddenly out of the ordinary, I watch it for a while, and when it doesn't change, I move on. Right now, I'm worrying about amputation and how it might be to live without my right foot.
When I was nearly at work, I saw a crazy woman coming toward me. You could see how long she'd been crazy by the six inches of wirey, white roots followed by two feet of dyed red-brown hair. Six months to a year, maybe.
My eyes were spilling tears as though they could wash the world out of them, and when I pulled my scarf back up to wipe them away, the woman looked me in the one eye I had open.
"Don't cry," she said. "Your looking really good today."
She threw in a little skip as she passed. It made me smile.
Things really are that simple, sometimes, lately. Maybe it's because they have to be as I navigate my way through time and space without the ease afforded by alcohol. Some days I eat breakfast, I iron my shirts, I sell shoes, I take photographs. I keep things simple. I do things without thinking, without investing them with anything deeper than what they are. I am moving. I am eating. I am attending to business.
On those days, it is tidy, like living in a magazine picture that describes mid-century American life in a mid-century American magazine.
After work, I bought things we needed for the house, hair conditioner and wood glue and hashbrowns. A young woman, late teens or early twenties, pointed me out to her boyfriend from the lawn where they sat as I walked home with my bags. She had the courage not to look away when I looked back at her.
I imagined that it was because she liked the way I was dressed, that she wouldn't mind being me in fifteen years.