My restlessness rises and falls: anxiety about the reading tomorrow night swells, and then vanishes.
As I drove to my appointment tonight, there was sun falling all around, but straight ahead the haze had coalesced into something like cloud cover, and Mt Hood – which was straight ahead, because I was driving to Camas, already on the Washington side of the river – loomed dark, unsmiling, a few flecks of glacier gleaming on his somber body, where the setting sun had struggled through some thinning in the haze. It was ghostly, beautiful, menacing. Driving back, after sunset, the mountain had vanished altogether, and I crossed back over Columbia into a homely, quiet Oregon. The Glenn Jackson Bridge sometimes makes the whole landscape a miniature, the sort of thing you gaze at and wonder how they possibly did such fine detailing. Look, every individual needle on the every individual branch of every individual tree! And the light draining away over the four edges of the Earth.
And earlier today, Joyce's extraordinarily beautiful face as she lay on her back, eyes closed. It's not done, stopping a massage in order to paint a portrait your client. And I don't have any paints. And I wouldn't know how to paint, even if I did. I just finished the massage.
And then tonight, I bought chips and sour cream (for the first time in a month!) from a young dreadlocked cashier, absurdly handsome. He looks like an actor who would play a basketball star in a contemporary movie. Which prejudiced me against him, at first, but he is so very kind and conscientious at the register that I'm beginning to believe that it really is his deepest heart's desire to see that I leave the Safeway having found everything I was looking for.
A stout middle aged Caucasian woman was stepping in to take over from him – the end of his shift? She reached up – a good foot above her head – to rub his shoulders, and he accepted gratefully, like a cat that loves to be petted. The scenario was so improbable that I can't quite believe it, even now. What would become of all of us massage therapists, if this sort of thing caught on? Crikey. We'd have to go find real jobs.
But there it is: a great river running between two states, down from the mountain to the sea, and a bridge between two glittering cities. I live in a little crooked house in the city on the left bank, up on an unnamed ridge. But I'm not a character, and there aren't any stories about me. I'm just a very tired man about to go to bed.