Notes Smuggled From the Bunker

It’s been a bad day. I was awakened at 7 by the dogs needing out — that’s OK, normal even. It means I get up and let the dogs out. If it’s not grimly cold I might leave the back door open. And, since I usually get up at 8, I was happy to leave it open (it was only -2) and go back to bed for a little while. I hoped for at least a half hour more sleep. The news last night of the assassination of the Iranian general and all the consequences to which that might lead to had kept me awake. I was filled with distrust for war-mongering Republicans and what seems to me to have been an act taken irresponsibly and unilaterally as a way to win an election. “You don’t vote against a sitting president during wartime,” said my office mate back in the GWB days.

Lots of people feel that way.

Just a few minutes after I put my head on the pillow, resolving to think good thoughts, my room had filled with a strong odor of diesel fumes. These fumes came from my neighbor’s strange and exotic SUV which has an exhaust pipe that points up into the sky, toward my house, as it happens. The pipe is next to the passenger’s side, front. When it is this cold, the light-weight warmer air (diesel exhaust in this case) is pushed down by the heavier cold air. Temperature inversion. Seeking a way to float, and finding some warmth coming out of my back door, the diesel exhaust took advantage of it and crawled along my floor to the warmest room in my house — my bedroom.

I understand that diesel engines need to warm up in winter because diesel kind of turns to jelly, but really? A tail-end exhaust wouldn’t do that. It’s an obnoxious and pretentious car and the whole family is a little odd (what might they say of me?), but nice. “Hell is other people,” Sartre so wisely pronounced.

I got up. Closed the back door. Made coffee, etc. the usual morning stuff. I worked on the “story that refuses to be born (so far),” and was pretty much hating life. I was Miss Grumpy pants, thinking about my up-coming birthday and how nice it would be to have a funny, handsome, loving guy to take me out for dinner (yeah right). Even though I am VERY aware of the downside of that, from time-to-time I wish…

Then, for no reason, as I got up from my chair and took ONE step, I fell and hit my head on the floor. It’s a pretty big bump and painful. I lay there for a bit and then got up thinking how good I am at getting up. I don’t think the diesel exhaust was enough to make me dizzy, especially an hour later. There is no major injury, but it was certainly demoralizing and tiring. I’d planned to take the skis out today…

I had to stop, ice my head, submit to the loving and hairy solicitude of my livestock guardian dog. I thought about my birthday and realized what I really want for my birthday is for the nordic club to groom my golf course for walking and skiing.

So the morning wound on unpleasant and strange. My friend called to make sure I was OK and didn’t have a concussion. I was able to ask about her family in Australia. My plans went out the window and I thought of a story my Aunt Jo told me once of a bad day when every time she turned around, she hurt herself, culminating in a fall down the two steps from their back door to the back yard. She told me she just lay there on the ground and said, “I just can’t hurt any more.” It’s kind of a funny story, but also not. It is definitely how I felt today.

Then, I decided to go get the mail.

Outside my door was a box about 24″ x 24″ x 4″. Big. I brought it inside. I saw it came from my cousin — someone I like but with whom I have had a problematic relationship since we were kids. What in the world?

Inside was a wooden platter with an Islamic design inset with mother of pearl. I knew it very well. I reached my palm to touch it, feeling time, my heart seeing a wall on which it once hung. My eyes filled with tears. It had been my Aunt Martha’s and had hung in her home in Colorado for twenty-five years. She bought it in Egypt in the 70’s. From there it went with her to Montana and when she died, it went to my Aunt Dickie where it hung over her fireplace until last year when she died.

This whole day seems like a metaphor for, or a compression of, life. At least here there’s a little guidance.

Anyone who genuinely and constantly
With both hands,
Looks for something
Will find it.

Though you are lame and bent over
Keep moving
Toward the Friend
With speech and silence, with sniffing about, stay on the track

When some kindness comes to you, turn
That way, toward the source of kindness.
Love-things originate in the ocean.
Restlessness leads to rest.

Rumi, One Handed Basket Weaver