Taking the trash out to the alley at midnight, broken glass strewn in front of the dumpsters looks like diamonds on the black pavement, sparkling under golden streetlights. There is hush, except the squirrels chatter and rummage. Distantly, in a glowing second story apartment, someone listens to YoYo Ma play Bach. Soundtrack to the story of their night: making dinner, drinking wine, talking. And of mine, too, I suppose: taking respite from the kitchen in the breeze of the summer night, sitting on a milk crate when no one is watching, and thinking.
I think of the playfully narrowed eyes and sly smile of a friend.
I think of the lyrics I heard earlier which were melancholy and somehow just right:
“And this ache is gonna break me love
Till you come back home, right or wrong.
There is no home without you.”
I think of a song I heard for the first time last winter. A million scattered dissonances coming to resolution at just the right instant so that it broke something in your soul in a good way, if that makes any sense at all. I decided it would be the sound you heard when you met Him face to face. It was as unbelievable and real as the heartbeat of the slow moving constellations that were once, long ago, the food of leaves, and would be again one day. The way things work in this chaotically and perfectly orchestrated world we walk around in.
I think of a writer I heard interviewed about her recently published novel. She said it was the pinnacle of her life’s work. It was the story she had to tell, and it had taken her ten years to write it. The interviewer asked what her current projects were, and she balked a little, and finally said that she could no longer hold a pen or type because her hands were debilitated with arthritis. I think of her and the awakening in my mind when in one of her earliest novels she wrote: “Whatever I see is plenty, abundance. I am the skin of water the wind plays over; I am petal, feather, stone.” Reading it was something fresh and astounding, a pure delight.
I think of those who, for whatever reason, can not do what they feel they have been created to do.
I think of a God who says: “I make all things new.”
I think of Summer saying the lines of act three, asserting herself with a raspy voice and blowing hot wind that makes us feel like we’re being baked like pies; she is the spoiled primadonna who smokes too much and wears too much make-up, which quickly becomes untidy looking. Sadly, most of us hope she will retire soon.
You, my dear—(I tell her gently, as she is rather irritable)—need to prop up those tired feet and think about taking a vacation! (This is my secret plan—a brilliant diversion!) Then Autumn can come and speak her lines—I know she is your understudy, is a little showy and mischievous (Ha! I think to myself) — but a little less intensity might be just what the doctor ordered.
I think that I need to get back to work.
I walk slowly under the fire escape and down the dark steps, through the back door & into the brightly lit kitchen. Rather than Bach, I am serenaded by the hum of the inefficient air-conditioners and the spraying of the dishwasher on the metal soup pots.
Just another night working the late shift.