Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Morning flares up. Alarm clock lost in the covers. We've been in the new place half a year, and I still wake uneasy at the different fall of the light. I half expect to open the door and see the ground covered with snow.

I wash the morning dishes, do my back exercises, take my shower. Everything flickers: nothing stays still.

Mornings like this, I come loose in time, as I imagine people with advanced Alzheimer's do. I could be a college student in Olympia, a pantry chef in Portland, a programmer in Beaverton. I check, and try to stabilize my story: I'm a massage therapist and a database guy, living in the East County. Right. Spies must need to do this: get their story straight before the day begins. I have a feeling it's not so common for other people.

I see no particular reason why it should be true, why I'm not somebody else today.

Kia pauses, the sparse long hair on top of my head between her fingers. “I don't cut this?”

There's an odd amused cast to her expression, as though she's offering complicity. It takes me a moment. My perception of my own hair is crude: I have only two categories for it, “right” and “too long”: I'm clearly missing something here. Then it dawns on me: she's offering a comb-over! You always wonder how hapless men take to those silly things, how they tell their barbers to do it. Well, this is how it starts. “Whatever will look right,” I say cautiously. I slip a hand from under the cloak to show: “I part it here.” – Not saying, but meaning, and not way off to the side! “Up here?” she says evincing faint surprise. I leave, not exactly disgruntled, but not quite gruntled either. Balding is fine, no problem with that: but to be taken for someone who would be anxious to conceal it is wounding.

Out on the sidewalk, unlocking my bike, I start laughing. It's all vanity: it's just that some of it is more obvious. I'm still laughing as I kick off and head up 81st, and the wind flows over my bare neck.


Anne said...

I'm sooo glad you don't comb it over. I think all women find comb-overs silly.

I wish I could imagine myself someone else. I am so completely the literal person I am. I guess that's why I was always a dismal failure at acting.

Zhoen said...

Ah, I see, it's a conspiracy of hair stylists. Go for too short, it's always more dignified. Hair stylists hate too short, and I have no idea why, they more than anyone should know that hair grows, and comb-overs are silly.

Funny, I feel more at home here than anywhere in my life. But then I am comfortable with how time is bunching up around me, all the past hiking up around my waist, falling into my shoes, sliding up into my armpits.

Dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dale said...

:-) What a grand poem, Zhoen! I am comfortable with how time is bunching up around me, all the past hiking up around my waist, falling into my shoes, sliding up into my armpits.

Zhoen said...

You do inspire me, you have for a very long time. Now, I may have to read Slaughterhouse Five again.

Sabine said...

I often need to do this late at night, getting the story, my story, straight to ward off the night spirits. Mind you, never too sure whether it really is my story.

Comb-over is for ninnies.

Murr Brewster said...

I had the same confusion once--and it was a LONG time ago, and I was a young woman--when the hair stylist said, "do you want to do anything about..." he brushed his hand lightly over my cheek..."this?"

This what?

Oh. Fuzz. No. I think not. If it can't be coaxed into porkchops or something fancy, there's no point.

Murr Brewster said...

Muttonchops! I meant muttonchops! Jeez! Bedtime.

Kathleen said...

I love "I come loose in time."

Kat said...

Hehe - "not quite gruntled either." Love it. Love too the vanity of not wanting to be seen as vain. Such a tender insight.