Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The camel and his straw may be a cliche, but it most certainly is not a myth.

In fact, I have felt it very recently: that inscrutable push over a ledge I've previously traipsed with relative elegance (all klumsiness aside).

And, no, I'm not talking about how, this weekend, I fell down half a flight of stairs at a popular sporting event only to hear a crowd utter "Ohhhhh!" in a sort of bemused unison.

[In hindsight, I actually found that experience to be rather humorous myself.]

It doesn't matter what I'm talking about, really: the particulars so seldom do. Because, with moments like this there is little to say but the obvious:

Nothing I do now will change a thing.

And yet: my perspective has changed entirely.

Losing people is funny like that; like that favorite pair of socks and the mysterious mate that slinks away after a single washing.

It's gone. There's nothing you can do. Best to move on while your legs are still strong enough to do the walking.

And so onward you drive, 5 mph in a 40; your 20 miles taking 90 minutes. You crawl and you sigh, watching and marveling as you're passed by scowling women in every shade of Mercedes; and blue-toothed men gesturing from their Beemers and six-cylinder Inifities.

I, too, could go on forever, you think.

[And often do.]

Along the way there are homes, too: brilliant, beautiful castles and mansions interspersed with the occasional, charming cottage (more my style). And yet: all beyond anything I'll ever see from the inside.

"My life goal," I tell family and friends, "is to have my own washer and dryer."

Forget the 4 bedroom home and the picket fence. Forget the 2 1/2 children and the 3 car garage. Forget the book deal and the trip to Scotland: I want to stop doing my laundry where the cockroaches outweigh my cat and the change machine is graffitied with gang signs.

Is that too much to ask for?

Some days, yes.

Yes it is.

And there is this train, this beautiful train. Layered with dirt, puddles of urine caked half-dry and sticky in particular corners. The people are amazing, looking every direction but at each other.

"This is my stop," you say, lost in the middle of everything.

"This is my stop."

You look around you only to see what you knew all along: that every head is down

and no one is listening.


david said...

Wonderful. I have questions that I don't know how to ask, so I will read the words again. The pictures demand to be seen much larger, but that would disconnect them from the words.

Anonymous said...

I hope the bruises from this weekend fade quickly. Given time, they will.

I love the pics. You really do have talent.

Unacademic Advisor said...

I always love these montages. The blend of stark picture and sparse words poignantly speaking the silent nothing most of us feel most of the time.

Meh said...

I wish I had something profound and meaningful to say, but I doubt anything will relieve your depression/oppression.

ds said...

from here in Indiana, I understand. the people and people. getting run off the road by giant campers towing 4 door luxery trucks. summer comes in on the wind. the dog and I sit outside for hours every night. I have a poem in my head about sitting around the dying man from work while his sisters try to open the window in the small downstairs room.

everything wrong is done. crawl to correct.

take care of yourself.

M@ said...

Bemused or amused? Your photos are gorgeous.

bookfraud said...

at least you fell down at a cubs game. if it has been the sox, i would have no sympathy for you.

you take some wonderful pictures, and you offer some wonderful words. and, no, it's no too much to do laundry at a place where the cockroaches don't resemble an suv and the change machine is a gangbanger hangout.

disgruntled world citizen said...

i have a vendetta against the cubs. i give them the stink eye and the evil eye at the same time. i, for one, celebrate the fact that they haven't won a series in 100 years. steve bartman for president! (in response to bookfraud's above note).

the title of your first book should be: life goal: a washer and a dryer. it should be a book of essays and pictures, much like this.

Stacy said...

Wow, these photos are incredible. I remember the dream of owning a washing machine AND DRIER. I would have traded a son for a set back then. Don't give up, it's worth the thrill that ownership. Hope you did not get hurt in that stadium.

MelO said...

Sometimes people are listening, even if they don't appear to be. I can relate to your words all too well.

Beautiful pics... but I think you've heard that once or twice already.