Monday, June 17, 2013

There is a lone dandelion blooming in an otherwise manicured lawn, next to the red swinging chair. June, and yet no fireflies. I expected them in May. I wait, in an otherwise pleasant rainy mood, on the back patio in my underwear, with a cigarette and reading glasses and blue-painted toenails while I peck on the computer keys about nothing at all. Not about fireflies. This afternoon I thought I heard the cicadas outside my office window. What if there is no summer, only a series of disappointing hot days that you've built up in your mind because of childhood summers? What if there really is no summer because of the windows and the walls and the air conditioning? My student from Vietnam says everything is open there- a seamless transition between outside and inside.
What if you felt a breath in your ear that told you only have twenty years left to live?
How would the ocean make you feel then? The mountains? Big or small?
What if, after your father's funeral, you felt him standing in your living room?
What if, the smell of rain hitting the sage leaves makes you remember sitting beside an open window in the late summer?
What if, life is only a series of disappointing hours strung together with just enough hope to make you hope for more?
What if, your parents punished each other for thirty years, outlasting suitcases and boxed dishware, outlasting presidents, outlasting each other's sold houses and wrecked cars and obituaries in the Sunday paper and the ozone hole and grandchildren's birthdays?
What if, say, you were the fastest typist in the tenth grade?
What if, the car behind you is always honking because you miss the green light because you're perfecting a phrase like: "My life has been relatively difficult" or "In the grand scheme of things, this has been a long, hard road, relatively speaking" and this is because you're thinking about water-borne diseases in Darfur.
Once, I saw angels on a cloud from my airplane window, and my mother said I was imagining things.
If I had a story to tell all of you, this is how I would begin. With the sound of the typewriter banging out a turn of phrase through the night. This is how I would begin. What you think are ordinary hours are actually tiny miracles, waiting for you to see them.