I am good. I have a long list and I work through it one item at a time, crossing them off. Difficult as well as easy ones, annoying and pointless wastes of my time along with things that I am convinced are significant. Down they go. I started making lists in elementary school and find a great comfort in them. It is a release to throw the crossed-off remains away.
Sleep has been bad, the 4am wakings now shifted to 2am; I am awake but feel the mental taffy slowing things down, the dizziness a little worse. Done with the list, I stare at the monitor and feel spent. I can watch Colbert, I can find weird things on Youtube. I look out the window and realize that is real–I should do that.
A pair of blinds I ordered in March and that they can’t get right I box up and take to FedEx for the last time. I am walking past the soccer fields where the people are always playing and realize I could have driven the boxes, then driven to the beach, but I wanted to walk the half-mile with two long, heavy boxes. It feels worthy, thrifty to do this, and time isn’t an issue. The light is different, the houses seem easy. A man comes out of the cigar store and wipes down a metal table with Windex and too many paper towels.
Days are shortened again, over two minutes a day. When I came back from New York City on September first, sunset was 7:51pm. Today it is 6:56. Not quite an hour in a month. That’s September at 47 degrees north. Change is slow enough we only experience it vaguely, something we can’t quite put our finger on.
Alki seems deserted like everything else now. A few people walk by; a woman yanks her dog and snarls leave it. Opposite downtown by the quarter-a-look telescopes the buildings are washed with tawny light. It looks like a wheat field by the water.
Surf is subdued–no wind, just the ferry wake every ten minutes or so. The rocks rise up not out of the water or the sand but the light. Light now shows something within, the atoms of gold that must be in them and happy to stay there. I remember Golden Apples of the Sun but not what the book was about. I read it eons ago, in someone else’s childhood. The sight now is of something utterly clean.
Doughy Russians chatter at a viewpoint holding cameras smaller than their hands. Runners come by singly, mostly sinewy women with long legs and hair. They stare straight ahead like they are running out of the shot and then a title will fade on in their absence. The grass and sidewalk are warm, but the grass softer, and I walk there.
I have nothing to think about and do not want to think, but my mind rattles on with its own momentum: conversations, simulated conversations, scenarios, bits to write down later. I feel exhausted in a new way. I am not fixated on what’s happened but not still yet, not moved on to something else.
Four women play beach volleyball, grunting in the sand. I’m in shorts with a jacket on and warm enough; they are in bikinis. They look strong and fecund. They look like they could beat me up.
Two weeks ago the day before I was on the phone to my friend. It was earlier and it was the last hours before going down to the vet and the end. We were talking about what was happening and now that is all I remember. It was brighter, earlier, and slightly more people were walking, the wind stronger. Everything was going on as if going 0n was natural, there was no crisis, there was nothing to face. The world is overrun with hospitals and misery and still we walk along the beach in the summer light. No one looked at me strangely. No one offered anything. In the end I got in my car and drove faster than I should have. I walked to the end and didn’t have as much time. I didn’t want to be late.
Knots of people gather around heavy steel hearths and cook hot dogs on sticks, or sit in elaborate camp chairs. I sit on a driftwood log and stare at an Olympic crag in the light and try to meditate. Waves crash and a jetski buzzes by. The family behind me argues happily about marshmallows. Focus on one distant object and only on that. Focus without thinking. In meditation class years ago I stared out the window at a magnolia blossom. This was 2006 and I had a boss that screamed and threw tantrums, but I could focus on that blossom and thoughts quieted. I can’t do it today. I keep trying. I am here in this rare fall beauty and can’t see it because I am too far inside my own head.
I can focus on the sky. I remember as a kid staring up at the pink to mauve to deep indigo of approaching night, the Texas sky so large it was easy to imagine being drawn up into it. Here are water and mountains and it is different, but I’ve never understood how. The clouds, so high, seem paused.
In Hawaii last year, people applauded the sunset. I didn’t get it. My mind raced then too, but not quite as much, not in the same way. I sat above the rocks, waves gently crashing, and watched the sun’s disk submit to the water. Kids kept running along the shore, and people in the camp behind me banged spatulas and argued about something, then laughed. Today, in another three hours the sun will set there too, and someone in one of the resorts will applaud again.
I send a text to my friend: it’s two weeks later and I’m at the beach again. It’s late where he is and he doesn’t reply. That’s fine. Humans have staked out a small place to our scale, and the world is friendly, lit with drama, not too big.