The circle of life is more like a slinky, a long, joined combination of circles stretching out and bouncing back and reaching out and drawing back and springing forward.
The rain is decorating the roof in soft uneven cat paws of rhythm. The day is gray with a low mist hugging the ground, bouncing back from the earth to decorate the grass with damp. It's cold. Evidenced by the steamy puffs escaping from neighborhood dryer vents and attic exhaust. Crows sit hunched on posts and branches, periodically ruffling feathers to shed the damp.
April had been kind enough to acquiesce some of her evening time to sojourn out with me downtown. Mission: a lecture. Exploring the sphere of higher learning. The room filled with expectant faces of a broad array – age, gender, and ethnicity. Papers rustled, chairs groaned under collective capacity, voices droned in an uneven hum, purses, pouches, bags, briefcases and satchels settled over, under and next to chairs. Alternative music bumped out of ceiling speakers and a PowerPoint information blitz displayed just a little fast on two big screens on the walls.
“So, what d’ya think?” April asked when it ended.
“In a word,” I replied, hesitating momemtarily. “Hems. I followed the basic gist of the presentation, but I pretty much focused on the variance of hems in the room.”
“Did you say ‘hems’?” blinked April with a birdlike cock of her head.
“Yes, well, did you notice the speaker’s? Three extra inches of pant leg and a veritable chunk out of the back of both pant leg hems. And then there were the too short pant legs on the moderator, torn out hems on the girl in the front row, strings still dangling from the raw edges where she’d dropped the hems of her pant legs in a hopeless effort to make them longer.”
“Well, what did you get out of the lecture?” April asked after a brief silence.
“The need for more kilts in today’s society.”
It was a blustery day, not cold, but gray and not exactly warm. The wind spun in and out, not constant. It tickled the last few lingering leaves from the branches of the multi-colored trees. Autumn sang its death song in the wind, sending foliage to its winter slumber.
I leave the enclosure of the parking garage and emerge onto the runway leading around the outside of the structure, noticing the movement of the twirling mist drifting through the trees and stretching across the open landscape towards me like an eerie hand, tentacle fingers, grasping me, leaving my exposed skin slightly damp and chilly. Goosebumps. I walk a little faster and drift down the stairs of the freeway stop to wait in the long line of differently bundled commuters. Some of the waiting bus riders are wearing their summer costumes – t-shirts, tank tops, capris, shorts, hairy legs, flip flops – anticipating the unusually warm temperatures of an Indian summer. Others are cloaked in coats, jackets, sweaters, boots and double looped scarves around necks holding hatted heads. I’m reminded of the morning weather forecast. Fog. Morning chill. Blazing afternoon heat. But no break from the fog that has blanketed the area for a couple of weeks. Record fog. Muggy by mid-morning. The speculative weather report hopeful of rain, but the sky delivering only drifting, shifting mist for a record setting number of days. Nineteen days and counting.
I'm here. No one else is. Well, no one in my group. The room is cold. Loud and echoey with the chatter from other tables. Island of thought and activity. Busy beings relating their busy lives and redundant complaints. Dropping stitches and jotting notes. Sipping coffee. Sucking soda. Playing board games or being bored while clearing tables of the left behind reminderrs of consumption. I poke at my gigantic piece of Black & White, afraid to eat it because the server didn't wash her hands after she bundled up an overflowing garbage bag before handing my plated pastry to me. I wonder when this table was last wiped. How many germ ridden hands have touched the back of this chair?
Why don't you just drag my heart around behind your car until it's nothing but a bloody streak. A smear of blood on the pavement.
Sitting in a gyro restaurant hidden way off the main drag in North Seattle. Classic greek blue and white pictures decorate the walls akimbo. Yep. Crooked. Like they're dancing to music that can't be heard or suffering an earthquake that wasn't felt. The table is really sticky. Food is good. It's cold and windy outside. Stark contrast to the sun shining on the Mediterranean sea in the pictures on the walls.
I'm surrounded by windows facing evergreen trees and a distant view of Capitol Lake. A mist floats above the glassy water reflecting the gray skies and soft drizzle of the Evergreen State. Rain droplets sparkle from the gutters passing a curtain of movement by the window.
Surprising. Not. She has a cat. Surprising? No scary. Cat lady. Something else for her to do, to care for, to think about. To pet and pamper. She said she wants to write about her cat. Cat stories. My brain has gone elsewhere. I'm thinking about fried chicken and corn on the cob. Hmmmm. I wonder if her book will be a cook book. Tastes like chicken. The clock is ticking loudly. Cat lady is wearing a sweater, yet she keeps fanning herself and her face is bright red. Did I see a droplet of sweat? Did she wipe it away? She can't keep her eyes open. Mine start to droop. We're in harmony like a sleepy symphony. Why doesn't she take her sweater off? Somebody's phone is urging attention. What did she say? Her cat talks to her? I think I'm going to be sick.
Hace Williams is a Seattle area author and journalist.