The fog burned off late morning, and I finally pulled myself together after one of those fitful nights when you doze just long enough for the clock to advance to 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. Marking the hours of the night does not make for a restful sleep.
At three I moved to the living room couch and read for awhile, the cats tumbling on and off me, unused to the nocturnal activity. At four, I turned out the light and pushed the gray cat to the other end of the couch near my feet. Very slowly, she edged her way up toward my head until she could insinuate herself under my arm, one paw outstretched which she ever-so-slightly rhythmically flexed, digging her claws into my neck with each effort. Blind rage took hold. I threw her back down toward my feet…and the sequence began again. At five, I moved back to the bed, waking up my husband and stimulating the cats, who began scratching the furniture and knocking things off the dresser. Mumbling curses, my husband got up, chased them out, and closed the door. All was quiet until six, when the orange cat began scratching on the door demanding breakfast.
I finally snatched a couple of hours sleep, enough that I could manage a lunch date with a friend I’d promised to meet downtown at an upscale shopping mall where she wanted to do some errands. I hadn’t been there in a couple of years–haven’t been anywhere in recent weeks–and was appalled. Glossy, gleaming, glittering junk. I doubt it is even possible to buy anything there completely necessary for life. It screams MONEY, and don’t come here if you don’t have it. Outside this cathedral to consumer elegance, people are begging, sleeping in doorways; untreated addicts, psychotics, schizophrenics roam the streets. There is real need–hunger, homelessness, disease. What is wrong with us that we can walk on by?
We don’t all, of course. People reach in their pockets, give a little spare change here and there, support charities. Some do a great deal. But how has it happened that only a few decades ago, this was not a normal part of the U.S. urban landscape, and now it is?
…do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure
that fills you,
as the sun
as it warms you
as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world–
or have you too
–from “The Sun,” in Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1
It’s later. Sorry for the self-righteous post–not that those aren’t real issues I feel strongly about, but not the best way to talk about them. I came home in pain and worried about my friend and lashed out at the world. Better than drinking over them, but not where I want to be.