Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wheels of life and death

My first writing class was taught by the truly wonderful Gurney Norman.  Someone in the class eventually asked where his name came from and he told the story of asking his (mentally ill) mother that same question.  Her answer:  Wheels of life and death.  Yes, as in, a hospital gurney.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Life intention, Part I

I was quite fresh out of college. I was sitting on a city bus in Madison, Wisconsin, on my way to my $11 an hour temp job processing mortgages at the credit union. The country was in its early economic reeling from 9/11 and mortgage interest rates were plummeting, so everyone was refinancing. Outside it was gray. The bus floor was slimy with grit. My co-riders always seemed to include someone in an inexpensive suit with a worn leather briefcase, someone large and gray-headed in a lopsided stocking cap, someone in a thin insulated plaid shirt looking tired, someone around my age with shinier shoes and tamer hair than mine. On this November day, I took out my journal and, in jagged script from the jolting of the bus ride, I wrote this:

Monday, January 4, 2010

A time to love

Nearly to work, walking in the shade and wind between MIT buildings. My cheeks and knees numb, the numbness creeping up my legs, across my temples. Cheerful orange berries on the vine starting to go black. Thoughts about winter, its wisdom: a time to die. When? And when to persevere? Another winter lesson. I must learn. What light can be found inside? Ahead, two kids standing a foot or two apart, talking. Not touching. Nodding, turning - she away, he in my direction. His chin tucked into his scarf, his grin unmistakable. Even from a distance. Did not see the ice raised from the sidewalk like fresh scars. Did not feel the cold. Grinned and grinned, eyes fixed blindly on his path, teeth to the cold wind as I passed by.