August 25, 2007

Two Halves of a Day

Red Cross and Hospital Bracelet

It doesn't matter whether you got to do everything on your list of tasks for the day.

It doesn't matter if you wind up sleeping in way past the point of rest, to take advantage of sleep being the only place where you can be completely alone.

It doesn't matter whether you wake up and have to kick dirty dishes out of the way to get to your closet. It doesn't matter if you wash them, though you do anyway.

It doesn't matter if you pay your overdue bills and make lunch plans and lay out your uniform for class. It doesn't matter if you eat chips and salsa for breakfast, or if you chase it with some of the chocolate cake left over from the middle of last night. It doesn't matter how good or bad you feel about your body on any given day, the bare facts are somehow always the same.

It doesn't matter what else you happen to be doing when you get the phone call from the ambulance. It doesn't matter if you are in the middle of editing images for an ongoing web project. It doesn't matter if you hadn't planned on leaving the house for another two hours. As you put on your hat, you acknowledge that in all likelihood it doesn't actually matter if you make the trip to the hospital at all. It doesn't matter if you stay home and just wait to hear the details like everyone else. It doesn't matter if you are a faithful lover; everyone knows that you are not.

There is a certain point in the day when it starts to matter. Sometime between the wait for the L train to the first hospital and the cab ride across town to the second one. Certain fibers begin to glow within the fabric the politeness of the cab driver, the phlebotomist's sense of humor; the plate of eggs left untouched in the diner due to the urgency of getting the patient home and comfortable, right away; the cheerfulness with which you accept that you left your bag in the restaurant in your hurry to catch yet another expensive cab. Gold threads twist out of moments of suspense, a net that isn't strong enough to catch you now, but may be someday when you're even weaker than this, when it trawls the air around you, passed from hand to hand by everyone around as they watch you struggle to tread water.

The second half of a day doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the first. It doesn't matter if you run a few errands pick up your bike from its tune-up, rent a dvd, buy a few bottles of wine that will go straight into the freezer. It doesn't matter if you turn the whole crisis into a opportunity for an early dinner date, or to hide from the heat together with a movie. The walk you take to the river together has nothing to do with the cab ride across the bridge, the photos you take of each other by the water have nothing to do with the electrode tabs visible through his shirt.

The place on the docks where you sweated out the blackout in 2003 is underwater now. So is the metal crows' nest where you have picnicked with so many friends, from where you have fed gulls and tasted snow and watched warehouses burn and gotten to third base. From where you have taken many, many but not nearly enough photographs.

It doesn't matter what shape the house will be in when you get back to it, or how much wine you spill on the sofa. The only time besides sleep when you feel completely alone is when you are together, and that's a peaceful travesty, a lovely derail, a planned demolition that sends up glittering clouds which pass for incense around here. The moon rises, perversely full and pink as a carnation. Giving up, you sort of win.

My Sunken Kingdom

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