What to do when a bird gets stuck in your house

16 October 2008, 9:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,
NOT my crossing guard

NOT my crossing guard

I walk to work. 

It takes about 45 minutes each way, and I’m pretty relentless about going every day, no matter the weather.  There’s something nice about the movement, the Zen-like state you can work yourself into, the constanties and the subtle changes.  There’s the older man I see by the elementary school and over the years, we’ve gradually moved from nodding at each other to some exchanges of greetings to my own personal quest to figure anything – anything – about this man’s life at all.  I know what kind of car he drives – a spotless blue Ford Taurus – because I’ve seen him as he puts on his safety orange vest and pulls his flag out of the trunk.  And I’ve seen him once or twice driving north to the school.  But other than the cleanliness of his car and a general feeling that he lives south of me, I know nothing.

Not that I haven’t tried.

Some sample fishing-for-info lines:

“So, any big plans for the weekend?”  “No, no, just staying at home, probably.”

“It’s always fun seeing the kids go back to school, don’t you think?”  “Yeah, these kids, they keep me on my toes.”

“Spending the new year with your family?”  “I think I’ll just fall asleep before midnight, like I usually do.”

Yes, I know.  Were I of the more direct ilk, I could probably just ask him details about his life and find out what his deal is – how he came to be the most (pardon the pun) unflaggingly consistent crossing guard I have ever seen.  There every day, rain, snow, beautiful fall or disgusting winter.  I know because I am the most unflaggingly consistent pedestrian I know, letting neither weather nor running injury nor general malaise with the world keep me from walking in.  I could just ask, if only my slight repulsion from feeling like I’m being nosy weren’t in the way.

The thing is, people secretly (or not so secretly) just want to spill their guts, I think.  They want to tell you about the horrible breakup they’re suffering, or the embarrassing medical problems they have, or why they got that unusual tattoo on their forehead.  It’s something I’ve noticed hanging out with my sister, whose bold questions (how old were you when you lost your virginity, to the girlfriend of a friend-of-a-friend at a barbecue one summer) make me blush.  I like to wait for such pieces of people’s sense of self to be offered on small plates at regular intervals, to be looked at under the right light and with the right tone of voice.  But when Marie bursts on the scene, she sweeps the plates off the table, jumps up and fixes her green eyes on her target, and asks, unflinchingly, “Have you ever cheated on your boyfriend?”

And they respond!  Maybe they’ll shift their eyes away, or become suddenly intrigued with the napkin they’re twisting into knots, but the glee eminating from the confessee is thinly veiled as they spill it to this charismatic stranger confessor.

Of course, the crossing guard doesn’t need someone to jump on the table, and maybe he’s genuinely (uh oh, here we go again) guarded or unwilling to share, or maybe he’s shy, or maybe (probably) this all means much much more to me than him, but still.  Sometimes I wish I could tap into Marie’s green-eyed bolditity and spill the contents of this man’s life on to small plates.  To look at, sigh over, admire.


mornings, of
13 October 2008, 9:21 am
Filed under: ramble ramble | Tags: , ,

I raced the cold air back into bed this morning; I used to do this all the time, jump out of the shower, dry off in the warm steam of the bathroom, and then slip back under the covers to listen to R and the cat breathe.  I had put about 12 miles between us in the interim of my waking and this warm sleep smell, and I wasn’t yet ready to face the work I never quite left this weekend.  As the world outside churned and roiled, as the winter steadily advanced and we all avoid contact with our better selves, R’s sleeping form shifted towards mine and my mind surrendered to the grey light of the sunrise.