20 January 2011

a morning in winter

My pillow seems to have greatly expanded gravitational pull these days. Everything is heavier near my bed, including myself. The grey at my window announcing morning does little to lighten the matter and rising to face the day must break down into small, incremental phases. The cat disapproves. He feels I should be leaping up with vigour that mirrors his own. He climbs over the peaks my limbs form in the duvet and presses his face to mine, eager and clumsy. His purr is an odd noise, almost silent, internalized. Pedey head butts me and then clambers over my face to lap the water from the pint jug I keep next my bed. The water thievery is the last straw and I pick him up or just push him, meowing in protest, off the bed.

Thus the first phase of getting up is complete and I sit myself up and rub my eyes and run my hands through hair that is no longer there. The grey light is brighter, though no less grey. I check my phone and iPad and might make a move against someone in Words with Friends (a scrabble knock off I'm constantly losing). My legs and shoulders are sore. I make fists with my toes and stretch out. Swinging my legs over the side of the bed to stand up shouldn't take as much concentration as it does. I grab the cat-tainted pint of water and stand up, not taking a sip. The first few steps fall as though my legs are in braces, or should be. The cat couldn't be happier at my resurrection, believing the sole purpose of my animated state is to feed him. He races underfoot, howling, delighted to have a feeder and a playmate. I'm delighted if I can avoid tripping over the wee shite.

If I've dreamt, I'll ponder them, trying to draw details back from the recesses of my subconscious and attempt to assemble some manner of linear narrative to the abstract. I delude myself into thinking this is a good morning brain exercise, but all it tends to do is confuse me.

Coffee becomes incredibly important about now. Espressos. Or perhaps a run before coffee. The road splits, and this is where everyday is not the same.

Today I ran. It was still dark when I set out. Frost coated the roads and sidewalks and grassy embankments. The sun rose more in the south than east and the sea sat calm beneath it. I could see my breath and by the end my whole body steamed as though I'd just been removed from an oven.

I staggered home and the day started.

18 January 2011

the rattling of a wagon

I can't remember which Christmas or birthday it was, or even if it was one of them at all. In any case, one year I wound up with a red Radio Flyer wagon. I don't think it excited me at the time. My reaction was probably, 'it's ok, I guess' or something similar. It grew on me, though. It wasn't a toy, it was a tool for childhood; as seminal in its own way as my first bike. Not to say I didn't use it as a toy, of course I did. My mom and her hardwood floors were all too aware of my propensity to use it as such. She never regretted giving it to me though; it was too useful. It was the kid's version of having a station wagon. All of the sudden a trip to the park could be undertaken fully equipped with all manner of cumbersome sporting equipment, picnic, toy and even extra clothing. Just pile it in the Radio Flyer and away we went. It made a racket on the brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill, trumpeting our youthful parade. My mother would use it from time to time as well, when she didn't want to take the car. It served to link my boyhood to that of Calvin, from Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes. I never quite managed to find a trail quite as idyllic as the scenes set in the comic, but my mind certainly wandered as I sat in it and gripped the handle careening through imagined wilderness. It was frequently a mining cart from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It leapt many a magma pool in its day.

I dragged it behind me when I walked to the Boston Common for little league games. My bat and glove joined the rattle of the wheels along the brick, bringing their own rhythm. Sometimes there'd be a playmate cooler full of juice and sandwiches. I have no bad memories of those games. Time has polished them into unblemished gems of childhood. Wearing a batter's helmet that would always look too big and trying, at the age of 11, to stare down the opposing pitcher. Lying in the warm spring grass before warming up, tossing the ball up gently and catching it again. We talked about Boggs and Clemens and Oil Can and Greenwell and '86. We all wanted to play for the Red Sox when we grew up, right after being James Bond, Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker. Then we'd play and sometimes we'd win and sometimes we'd lose. Losses stung and wins overjoyed.

Then, in the golden late afternoon, covered in dust and dirt, I would load up the wagon and drag it home, firing questions at my mom, 'did you see that double I hit?', 'did you see that throw?' I never waited for an answer. Breathless, I'd ask another and another until we got home.

These memories come back stronger in the depth of Scottish winter. The golden afternoons, when they're not grey, come far earlier in the day. My bright red Radio Flyer's been replaced by a beat up silver Renault.

There's still a rattle, but it's less endearing.

17 January 2011

still not used to writing the date

I scratch my stubble and look at the number that comes before January and it takes a double take to comprehend. As I start writing this, it's the 17th. It may be the 18th when I finish. Or, knowing me, it could be March. In any case, it doesn't feel like we should be in the second half of this month, not yet at least. I need to concentrate to write '2011' instead of any other year. I wrote '2002' the other day. Where the intervening 9 years went is anyone's guess.

It seems like New Years was yesterday, or perhaps the day before. I've no idea where the last two weeks have disappeared to, though I'm quite certain they're not coming back.

Meanwhile, 2010 fades into the mist of the distant past. The memories aren't gone - they just seem further removed than they should.

It's strange, because I haven't moved in a year. In spite of travel, new people and new places, I've gone nowhere. That's something quite difficult to face and to accept, but it is what it is, and within that I need to find a new gear, preferably a forward one. Reverse and neutral are worn down.

It shouldn't surprise me that the correct year confounds me - it could be any of the last nine and little would be different.

Probably time that changed.