Samsa and Me

image from www.jburdimages.com

So I'm sitting outside the bookstore at the Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside PA.  The place is deserted.  My friend, JP, is a student here and also works full time.  He may well be the only person working today.  That is, except for the odd librarian.  The book store is closed and the windows lined with boxes.  I'm sitting at a round wrought iron table in a woven wrought iron chair, typing away on my new toy - the ubiquitous iPad - over 3 million sold in 80 days - when something lands in the center of my Adam's Apple and my hand instinctively goes for the kill.  Between my fingers is the carcass of a bug, now dead and mangled. 

 "Sorry, Mr. Bug,"  I say this out loud and think in my mind that I shall dub him Gregor, "You landed in the wrong place at the wrong time."  Then I flick it away and the wind catches it.  A few seconds later I'm not exaclty in a panic - I squash God's little creatures all the time without blinking - but I am reflective of this thing that only an ordinary instant before was flying through the air, alive.  Now Gregor is no longer.  Dead.  Dead dead dead!  He is dead and gone, lady.

It's not exaclty a new idea or even a new angst to feel something for creeping things or to mourn our own mortality.  It's the change in the air and the fear of death change brings with it that gets my feelers in a twist.  Worm that I am.  Bug that I am.  Creeping thing that I am.  One day, not so far off, even seventeen seconds from now perhaps, a change will come along and squish me from the realm of living to the realm of dust. 

Maybe it's the fact that Sunday was Father's day and I've had dead parents on the brain.  I'm certain that the greater anxiety comes from M's departure.  He's flown to Dallas and will be spending the week looking for a new place to dwell along with a new vehicle to get him around.

On Tuesday morning after he left for the airport i went back to sleep and then got on a train and came to PA.  Here I will let my friend JP be my sanity wet nurse for a few days.  Sometimes you just need a friend to hold your hand and help you make coffee in the morning (or Postum if you like). 

The photo above is not the crushed bug.  It's a moth that is likely dead by now too, but which led a protected life in the sanctuary of the Bronx Zoo's butterfly habitat.  Zoos and their animals.  In many ways lucky creeping things.  Check out Yann Martel's Life of Pi for more on that idea...

For now I am protected by the sanctuary of a friend who understands my anxiety and my loneliness.  There is also the sanctuary of knowing M will be back in a few days.  The bitter part of that is his return marks the final count-down for us together in NYC.  Wait until the end of July when he flies for good.   The real cracker jack moment is still only in preview.  I'm making plans on how to deal with that flying day.  Maybe you have some suggestions. 

On sunday I called my mother and started tearing up as soon as she said hello.  I told her what was going on. 

"Yeah, I know how it feels to want someone around and they just aren't."  

"I know you do.  I don't know how you do it."

"Well.... I don't know either.  I pray a lot.  I find things to do that occupy my attention.  I have family and friends." 

For the hour or so while we talk on the phone, my mother is my sanctuary.  Something that has not been true for a very long time.  A walk along Riverside Park adds aid.  There is also a lime flavored icy from the Dominican woman at her cart on the street.  Who knew that could be such a comfort.

"She's shaving the ice as we speak."  I say this to my mother while I watch the little pieces come off in a pile of crystals from the block.

"Yes, I can hear it,"  is my mother's reply.


The dangers of flying.  Or creeping.