Stirred from bedridden delirium by the unmistakable sound of carollers merrily ringing in the season. Given my feverish state and the thickness of the congestion in my head I thought I had to be imagining it. I sat up to listen and heard true the faint élan of choral cheer, chased by tipsy adult laughter.
Slipped into robe. Stole woozily down the stairs. Took up guarded position at the front window. Peeking thru curtains saw the carollers huddled in the driveway across the street. No longer singing but continuing to laugh. Sipping at steaming paper cups. Cajoling and cavorting. Every gesture filled with gladness and enhanced by the sheets of paper in their hands. They had been rehearsing and were now beginning to disperse to their cars. Their sheets of paper fluttering farewells. Big grins on early Christmas faces.
Found myself smiling and came back upstairs with a spring in my step. No sniffling nor coughing, not even an ache.
So here I am.
In your boudoir.
It is has just gone 8 pm.
December 8, 2015.
Liquid sounds abound.
It is raining.
You are with Liz.
At the museum.
I should be there too.
But here is good.
In this famous place
Where I’ve haphazardly scribbled a doodle on an open page. Looks like an oddly shaped bird with strange legs.
Hmm. Something else lurking. A shift in perception. What I see now is—well, let me go about it thisaways….
Have it in the murk of mind you almost didn’t go out this evening. On pretext of caring for your sick ol’ boy. (Gratitude.) But I wasn’t the whole story. (On occasion, Ms. UU, I can be somewhat perceptive.) That slightly beleaguered tone in your voice when I asked after your day. The hesitation in how you answered. Not wishing to cover ground already trodden. Forgetting that this morning you mentioned you weren’t looking forward to going into work. Because you’d be working with that spiteful hag who it seems has a knack for fouling your mood.
Miserable people beget their own misery and do their best to make those around them at least momentarily miserable.
Dad used to call such people ‘fickle folk’ and say that they can’t help themselves. The first time I remember him using this terminology we were at an airport. Some woman was losing her shit about something. Liz and I were, I don’t know, under 10. Dad pulled us aside, set to his haunches, said what he had to say, and appeared to be satisfied that he’d made the most of this teachable moment.
But quizzical Liz had to ask why.
Dad smiled and tousled Liz’s hair. (He loved it when she sought more involved explanations. Meant he had to dig a little deeper. [Pun intended.])
The explanation he came up with went something like:
Most people build imaginary rooms in which to store away the things they don’t understand or dislike about the world. The rooms are small and simple and are only meant for storage. Fickle folk aren’t content with either simple or small rooms—and they loathe the idea leaving well enough alone. Instead they build temples. The bigger and the taller the better. They make such a fuss of their temples that they forget the temples are imaginary and lose themselves in the construction of their fabrication (and vice versa). Over time, fickle folk discover they’ve built their temples so big and tall their heads are in a mess a bad clouds.
A roundabout way of saying some people are resentful of the choices they’ve made and hold no bones about expressing their resentment. Still, dad’s version was exactly the kind that would’ve pacified Liz—or sent her into visualizations of temples and clouds etc.
Which is what I see in that scribbled doodle. A temple in the clouds with a sharply pitched mountain rising beyond. Although, you know, the more I look at it the less convinced I am. I keep seeing the bird.
Clouds disappear. Time collapses.
in this famous place
I hear you and Liz
at the front door
trying to quiet
tipsy adult laughter
and failing wonderfully.