I see the man whose body has become a rusty mechanism, orchestrated to pick up the mail from the box. Here he is, out in front of his suburban home in one of those houses that could have four rooms or fourteen, one of those boxes of varying sizes each inside the other and capped by a larger box that holds them all in. The man’s every gesture, reaching, stopping, reaching again until the body follows suit.
This stop animation scene arrests me and I can’t help but watch, but then he notices me noticing him, and he scowls. I say hello, to which he says nothing but looks on as I pass ( I imagine), though my back is to him and my stride already zooming towards the park. Before that, pot holes brimming with days’ old rainwater. After the rain, sun is almost milky, light.
I go past the little wooden footbridge where an elderly couple are coming my way, the woman’s eyes are bright underneath her white vizor, sparkling almost defiantly, holding on, latching onto me as she says hello. Hello, sure, hello, this time I’m the one pulled into saying it. I keep going and take a left on the first path after the one skimming the road.
That last woman’s all-white and powder blue ensemble, the undershirt peeking out from a sweatshirt, registers in the afterthought. Probably a present from visiting relatives, purchased in one those seaside gift shops in Anchorage or Biscay Bay, I figure. I am already envisioning my route with its tall oaks and their petite white-petaled neighbors when I run into a roadblock: a puddle the size of a lake. Figuring all similar trails in the opposite direction is likely to present the same problem, I run-a-jog back a ways, reaching the paved, main park road. I have only been here a little while when a more amenable spot reveals itself at the seams of the creek, a foot-sized clearing leading to a cleft, a basin where the water takes respite from its gushing gusto downstream.
I stand there for a moment taking in this little miniature beach, and moved by the gentle grace of it, sit down. I sit staring for a minute, days’ long fight receding with the water, letting it all wash away. Not a worry on my mind, only the teal water and damp grass that smells of earthy freshness. I pick up a leaf, and decide, hey, this is a good time as any to meditate. I think those thoughts, there, wondering if the grammar is alright, grammar being on my mind now that I am editing and about to fall back to teaching English again – my stand-by career. And there I turn my shoulders, back-and-forth, so gently I can’t believe it. I’m slicing the leaf in strips, feeling great joy in the act, exorcising discomfiting troubles while leavening it with the optimism of thoughts to come.