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At speed

At speed

Nothing is happening. Too much is happening. Mornings are quiet with gentle rush.

I have still not unpacked most of the boxes, meaning most of the books. Maybe it’s because books are such regular, conforming objects, fitting easily inside square boxes, which stack and pile in neat rows. The boxes have their new crispness yet and hold up their weight instead of sagging with moves, sitting, age. A friend gave me a few large ones that have been through a lot, and their sides bulge like little fat men, the corners held in by tape. I haven’t unpacked those either.

Work proceeds at a blistering, comfortable pace. Arriving in the morning there is a drawing to translate into the markup of the hour. I spend lots of time typing the old fashioned way into Notepad++, without hints, without autocorrection. There is so much one can absorb as new and this is familiar and steady. Like Shelby Foote writing his tomes with a quill, working this way makes you pay attention. Hours go by and enough presses of F5 reveal things you have made.

The bus is no hassle, though I can’t get the rhythm of when to leave the house to get the bus that connects to the other bus with the least wait inbetween. This morning I crested University and Fourth to see the eastbound 545 half-pulled away, stopped at a light. I ran, cutting yards down the block to shave the distance, and knocked on the door. The driver, startled, opened the door. Catching a bus like this is like catching quarry: a emphatic, small and silly triumph. But the holiday and Friday had the roads clear and I got there earlier than I hoped.

I meet new people and renew time with people already known. Text messages and emails come and go; mostly the first, some of the second. Nobody calls on the phone any more. I wonder what would happen if I was like my friend Oscar, having only a land line, like the days of old. Leave a message after the beep, the machine would say if anyone called it.

It comes on the bus, or on the weekends, but mostly in evenings when I am home alone. It isn’t Monkey: it has no personality or sense of twisted fun. This older thing has been with me a long time: a grey sheen of anxiety, buzzing but distant, shrill and inaudible. It comes from everywhere but does not radiate from anything. It is not improved by turning on the light. It is a tense present certainty that something is wrong.

The whirlwind of change doesn’t faze it, though it is shy and it tends to not appear then. There are times of great pleasure and simple happiness when it emerges with big dumb eyes like an unlucky puppy and I am startled. Am I supposed to feel you now? Weren’t you happy off wherever you were? I was.

When it comes, it isn’t as strong. I watch it like the books say and it wavers, wants me to think about global warming or Republicans or all the writing I’m supposed to be doing. It still stands too close but it isn’t there as often. It’s fine for it to come out in quiet. I haven’t had much quiet the past couple months.

Something I never realized about all those kids I quietly disliked with their extracurricular activities and romantic relationships was their living proof that a whirlwind could not only be managed, but whirlwinds can be fun. It’s fine to not know exactly where you’re going or what you’re doing. Nothing bad is going to happen by taking a chance, despite every warning ever received by anyone ever. It’s okay to trust that adolescent voice that was suspicious of trusting certain caution too much.


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