Friday, February 25, 2011

A summer or so ago

Ten thousand words swarm around my head, Ten million more in books written beneath my bed, I wrote or read them all when searchin’ in the swarms, Still can’t find out how to hold my hands....

The couch rustled as he shifted all his weight onto his one good leg. The mounted deer heads on the wall stared down with permanent fascination through glossy eyes. He reached his hand out and brushes the fingertips lightly up and down his arm.

"What are you thinking," he asks with eyes so dark it's unclear where the pupil ends and the retina starts.

"Nothing" I reply, which is only half-truth. I'd spent the week traveling back and forth multiple times across a three hundred mile stretch. I'd spent my nights taking care of others, and hadn't had a minute to myself in days. And to top it all off I had a conversation with a loved one that left me feeling like I had been slapped across the face. Mix it all together and I was restless and unsure, stuck in a permanent state of anxiety.

But he was fascinated by the adventuresome, brave, non-complicated me. Not the preoccupied one. In an effort to let the weeks worries drain away, I tried to focus on the T.V. I filled my glass with yet another drink, and swirled the ice. I even rearranged my legs on the couch to try and get comfortable, but nothing did the trick.

He sensed the restlessness, stared at me, then stood up and said, "let's go for a drive, now"

As I hike myself up into the passenger seat of his truck my mind immediately calms itself. He turns on his brights and rolls out of the drive. The soothing noise of gravel crunching under tires reaches out to console me. The miles roll by without even leaving the ranch. The lights catch on the desert sage and lavender, the cacti and even an occasional mesquite tree.

I roll down the window to remind myself what a temperature less than 100 degrees feels like, and let the wind blow away the last of the nerves. I pulled my barefoot onto the dash and stretched my toes towards the windshield, leaving ten little circles on the inside of the glass.

His eyes stray from the dusty deserted road, scan the length of my legs and land on my feet. The ones that are desecrating his truck.

'I'll have to detail the inside of this truck tomorrow' he says, as he rolls his eyes, mentally adding it to his to-do list. I laugh, knowing how much status in Texas comes from a big truck. Especially in his line of work.

He smiles, pleased with the rise he has gotten out of me. And we continue down the road, his dark black eyes gleaming in the cast-off light from the headlights.

...And after we are through ten years, of making it to be the most of glorious debuts, I’ll come back home without my things
‘Cause the clothes I wore out there I will not wear ’round you, And they’ll be quick to point out our shortcomings
And how the experts all have had their doubts

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The train tracks run right through the town. They separate me from my work, and years ago I would have had to factor in the time I needed to wait for the train that comes through every morning at 9:45. A few years ago the town finished an overpass that let commuters drive under the tracks, whether there is a train or not.

Every morning as I pass the hospital and start slowing down to turn left onto an abandoned road that leads to my office, I see him. He sits under the underpass. He shows up with the morning train and leaves with the evening one. He is settling in when I drive by, and gets up to leave when I'm heading home. He's your stereotypical homeless man. Thin and small, most probably wouldn't notice him. His hair is cut short and curly, his beard is scruffy and his pack is full of plastic bottle and aluminum cans. He sits on a five gallon bucket and waits. Or watches. Or both.

Usually I wave, and think about him the entire drive down the empty road. Today I thought about if I had ever seen his name cross my desk. Did he have a past that I had catalogued? Was his name in our database? Had I been the one who told his potential landlord about his past?

Sometimes the job gets to me. There is only so many hours you can spend thinking about aggravated battery and indecent liberties with a child. I tend to start suspecting everyone. And I am pretty sure that just about everyone in Wichita is a convicted felon. I even have started looking into all the people I meet, to see if they have things to hide. The paranoia is slipping in....

When I left today, my friend wasn't sitting on his bucket, or watching the traffic. He was walking west, away from the tracks. I didn't wave today because he was walking away from me, and on the back of his sweatshirt were a pair of angel wings.

....‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine, And I bet we’d get along just fine, He could calm a storm and heal the blind,
And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, Flowing into the night, People so busy, make me feel dizzy, Taxi light shines so bright

The music blared in the background while I hesitantly put one foot in front of the other. My heart was pounding, my breathing sporadic and to be honest my deodorant had worn off hours ago. The bar was packed. People on top of people. Girls who couldn't remember to hold eye contact, or even stand for that matter. Macho guys teetering between a drunken stupor and a bar fight. The second I'm through the door the familiar faces start to pass in and out. The ones I've known from kindergarten. That's the reason my heart is pounding. I don't like those chance run-ins where you do the whole nicey-nicey "how have you been-I haven't seen or thought of you in five years" talk.

I said hello as I crossed paths with them. Gave my shortened life story. And then moved on. I didn't hang out with them at school. They didn't talk to me. I didn't particularly want them to, hence the sweating and pounding.

The only common thread we all shared was that they knew I didn't belong. They discussed my whereabouts for the last few years, and talked of my adventures. The ones that took me to far-off places doing great things.

It was a good feeling to know I didn't belong. I've grown up and really don't miss highschool. The only thing these encounters made me feel, other than the uncontrollable shaking, was the desire to be gone again. They are right. I don't belong with them, the question is where do I belong?

But I don't feel afraid, As long as I gaze at Waterloo sunset, I am in Paradise