Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hot Now!

I almost stopped for a Krispy Kreme donut on the way back from Daddy & Son. I did stop, actually. I walked up to the counter and looked at the donuts. I smelled the donuts. Then I turned around and walked out. I was drawn into the store by the neon sign that was flashing “Hot Now”. I was transported back to the days when Aunt Gladys and I would sit in her pink Studebaker outside the Krispy Kreme on Military Circle waiting for the “Hot Now” sign to come on. Today as I stood at the counter I knew what I knew then: One would be too many and a dozen wouldn’t be enough. I took one more deep inhalation of hot donuts, turned around and walked back onto Connecticut Avenue. It was a lovely day for a walk – a better day for strolling. I had strolled up Connecticut. My destination was a shirt shop. John is going up to New Jersey tomorrow to attend the 30th anniversary of a non-profit he worked for before he moved to DC twenty-five years ago. Since they haven’t seen him since he made the transition from longhaired social worker to lawyer badly in need of a haircut, I wanted him to have a new shirt to wear. I dropped his favorite summer suit off at the cleaner’s yesterday. Last week I made his Amtrak reservations and got him a hotel room in New Brunswick. You might wonder why he doesn't do these things himself. It’s just that over the past couple of decades we have fallen into a comfortable habit. He takes care of the important things like the war in Iraq and global warming and I take care of everything else. I bought a much too expensive shirt and tie from an Italian gentleman. He told me he was from Sicily. “Only visit Sicily in April or September” he cautioned as he helped me pick out a tie to go with the orange, pink and yellow striped shirt. We agreed the orange tie was best. When he offered to gift-wrap my purchase, I let him because I was enjoying our conversation and the ambiance of the little shop. The sweet sound of an Italian tenor emanated from speakers in the four corners of the shop's bright yellow ceiling. I love doing little kindnesses for my husband. I know how fortunate we are to share a happy marriage. You might think it’s a lot of work. On the contrary. It is quite the opposite. I don’t think it would work as well if I labored at it. I’m quite pleased that John has agreed to come with me to Taos in July. I registered for the Taos Summer Writing Conference months ago, intending to go alone. I booked my flight. Rented a car and reserved a room. Then a few weeks ago it occurred to me how nice it would be to introduce him to New Mexico and let him explore while I’m busy with my conference. John just called to give me a status on his campaign to secure an off-leash dog area in Luria Park – the recreational area at the end of our street. “They have them in New York and Arlington” he complained. “Why is it so hard to get Fairfax County to understand?” I made my “I know honey” sounds and asked him how his cold was and whether he’d gone to his yoga class at lunch. I didn’t tell him about my stroll to Daddy & Son.


Friday, April 20, 2007

We Rise

In my dream I am climbing a spiral staircase along with scores of other people. We are all rising. As we loop around the staircase we face each other briefly. Sometimes we smile and nod. I recognize a face. When I wake up I can’t remember the identity of the person I faced so briefly – just the sense of loss. The person had died. I don’t know how I knew that. In my dream I regret I had not known him better. We all continue to climb. I feel a kinship with the others on the stairway. I am struck that we are all climbing up – all rising. No one is descending. When I wake up the dream stays with me. I remember the sense of loss and an intention to not lose anyone else. Not to let anyone go ignored. I live in a big city. I pass hundreds of faces every day. On the street, in the Metro, on elevators. All of us anonymous. All of us kin. The tragedy at Virginia Tech hasn’t been far from my thoughts for the past few days. I feel a kinship with the victims and the shooter. I spent a year at Radford a lifetime ago. Radford was a woman’s college then. That’s why I transferred to William and Mary my sophomore year. When I had a “little breakdown” my junior year no one hesitated to rush me into therapy. The school didn't ask me if I wanted help, they just helped me. I just threw a mug. I have thought a lot about that incident with all the debate that has followed the tragedy. In a moment of anger and frustration I threw a mug against a door and I was immediately whisked into counseling with the campus shrink. Dr. Norman. I still remember our intense daily talks. They helped me. A friend gave me a copy of “I Never Promised you a Rose Garden” and it was suggested by the administration that I consider continuing counseling over the summer with a strong hint that my continued enrollment at William and Mary might depend on it. As a result I spent the summer lying to Dr. Rapasardi who was crazier than I ever was. Have things changed so much? Was I more frightening than Cho? I remember I was depressed because I had gained weight and I was worried about having enough money for tuition. A math professor refused to allow me to make up an exam and as a result I was in danger of losing critical financial aid. I didn’t throw the mug at Dr. Mah. I threw it at my door. No where near my roommate but she insisted I had thrown it in her direction and ran to the house mother who wasted no time calling Dr. Norman. I guess I am grateful someone was paying attention. I don’t believe I was a danger to myself or others but even though it was inconvenient and embarrassing I am glad someone noticed. We all rise and fall together.