Walking Cross-Town. @ 80%.

It’s cold.

I’m zigzagging cross town.

I hit red lights and turn to walk up avenues. I approach walk signs, and turn back down streets.

The skyscrapers cradle the wind currents, they gust and swirl, and find the exposed skin: the neckline, the forehead, up the pant leg — both eyes gush water.

I reflect on a conversation from the day before.

“How you feeling?”

“Much better thanks. But I’m a bit shocked at how quickly I tire. And I have these intermittent bouts of lightheadness. Destabilizing, really.”

“You had material blood loss. You know that red blood cells take 4-6 weeks for complete replacement.”

You had no idea. None. Zero. How little interest you take in something so important to your sustenance. Yet that doesn’t seem to rock you as much as knowing the older you get, the less you seem to know. This jolt makes you lightheaded. Or perhaps it’s the speed walking, and a shortage of red blood cells.

I slow down. Way down. The lightheadness grows.

This movie is running in slow motion. Other pedestrians pass you by. Others pass you by. This makes you uncomfortable. You are losing, behind, slipping, slowing. Increasingly you are feeling ok with that. Really? Are You? Not really. You try to accelerate…want to…can’t…don’t…need to.

I stop.

I lean against the rail outside of Kellari, a Greek Mediterranean seafood restaurant on W. 44st Street. And peer inside. That’s it in the photo above, but at the wrong angle, and the wrong lighting. There’s a single soft light illuminating wine glasses at the bar. There are no patrons in the restaurant, it opens at noon, it’s 6:20 am now. There’s movement in the back, a restocking of provisions for the day. I glance at the menu, and the mind drifts.

The discomfort rises again. I’ve paused here for what, 45 seconds? Wasting time. Need to get to the office. I release my grip from the rail, the lightheadness persists. I stop, regrip the rail. Kellari sweeps me away to Greece. Santorini. Paros. Mykonos. And, Zagajewski: “The crowns of trees shake in warm currents of air. Unattainably distant mountains. Intangible rainbows. Huge cliffs of clouds flowing slowly through the sky. The sumptuous, unattainable afternoon. My life, swirling, unattainable, free.”

Zagajewski seems to do the trick. He’s cleared the mist, and not unlike the beauty of two female synchronized swimmers, he’s stabilized the ground under feet.

I take one last glance inside Kellari. I promise myself that one day I will stop, pause and have a drink at this bar — and then finish my rush back across town to catch the evening train. I stare at the bar, and I’m swamped with melancholy. You won’t do it. You just won’t. 

I release my hand from the rail. I take once last look at the bar and the hue of the soft light shimmering on the wine glasses.  You’ll remember this.

I continue down 44nd street…

and never look back.


 

Comments

  1. It’s a bit too early for Ouzo…😉. Should you really be walking cross town yet at 80%, sir? The feelings of inadequacy are exacerbated, the waves of ‘not good enough’ are frequent and high – and frankly you don’t need any catalysts on a good day! “Infinite rainbows” – how gorgeous, and that is a wave one should ride forever. Get your strength back before walking from the east side to the west, ok?

    Liked by 5 people

    • Smiling. Thank you Mimi. Your words and thoughts remind me of:

      My footprints in getting here are filling with snow. The fire is dying down. The paper in this journal is made from the bark of a Lokta tree that grew in the foothills of the Himalayas. The veins of its pulp are visible in the page. Some days, I feel so overrun by the world that I long to be a piece of bark stripped for others to write on. Though hardships cover us, the path of individuation, of meeting life until we are who we are everywhere, requires us to shake off falsehoods and illusions. We have all we need within us. My thoughts now flutter like leaves in some ancient wind I’ve always known. Outside, the wind is blowing clumps of snow from the branches, and a snow-covered feeder sways twenty feet from this window. I want to shake off all my doubts like snow. My life to this hour is waiting to be uncovered, so I can be touched completely by life. I vow to stay uncovered, longer this time.    

      ~ Mark Nepo, “In The Winter Cabin” from Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living (Sounds True, Nov 1, 2017)

      Liked by 6 people

  2. slow and steady wins the race, but sometimes that’s hard to accept…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. sit down and imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just.Do.It….. How, anyway, can you pass a Greek restaurant? One HAS to enter… it’s a law!
    Santorini….. Only this week we spoke on the phone – our Greek neighbour (although he became a French a long time ago, sadly…..) of Santorini and that ONE DAY I will go there! He said, being Greek, returning at least twice per year to various places, having a house there, I’ve never been to Santorini – too touristic! There you go…. (I still want to go one day 🙂 but when?)
    I was trying to read the Kellari’s website. Beautiful enticing photos but the text on the lively backgrounds changed so quicky that I felt dizzy, and max 80%….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “I promise myself that one day I will stop to have a drink at the bar on my rush back across town to catch the evening train. I stare at the bar, and I’m swamped with melancholy. You won’t do it. You just won’t.”

    If not now, when, pal? When are you going to give yourself permission to ratchet it down a notch, indulge yourself a bit more here and there? Cliched though it may be, ‘this ain’t no dress rehearsal.’ Even your body is trying to tell you to slow the heck down and smell the roses.

    Greece is gorgeous. Few things more breathtaking than the sunset in Santorini. Maybe you can’t get back there at the moment (or maybe you can), but don’t deny yourself the opportunity to enjoy a sunset, wherever you find it.

    Hope you continue to feel better with every passing day….

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I’m thinking of you – and worrying – while also thinking of me, not worrying but waiting. Because as we age, we have to let go of our feelings of immortality. I think that began to happen at age 60. In some ways, it was such a relief. I only have maybe 15, 20 years to go! (although my mom is 93…). Then regret – wait! I have so much I want to do, and I’m just getting the ‘hang’ of this thing we’re in the middle of – living. Then I realize – what am I waiting for? I’m going to go out and travel to my favorite places, and find a few new favorite places. Then I look inside my wallet and think: “well, thank god I have an imagination.” 🙂 Take care of yourself, regain your strength, and NEVER let go of your imagination.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. You not feeling well is breaking my heart 💔

    And reading this I’m thinking of the places I passed and said I’ll come back to but never did. They haunt me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ok, in my best Mom voice, I’ll ask you this, “If what you just described were told to you by one of your kids, what would you say to them”
    >>> Slow down. Ease in. Pace yourself. And savor. <<<

    -MJ

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Michael Zahaby says:

    Get well quick my friend. May be one day (soon) you’ll say “ça suffit” and join us in Naples (FL, that is)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What Pam said (roughwighting).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Don’t push yourself, and apologies in advance for the mini-lecture that’s about to follow (the sort of mini-lecture that’s reserved for those we care about).

    There are plenty of ways to exercise that are more gentle than speed-walking/running. I used to go running and on marathon walks or rather route marches! Now I do somewhere between 3-4K steps walking the dog, chi gong exercises, and gardening. That being said, I now need to start rebuilding some muscle and bone, as I have a BMI of 17.5 (I eat as much as hubbie and my 6′ 5″ son do).

    I hope, Dave, you’re working with your doctor re your exercise programme, so you don’t overdo things too fast. Reluctantly, I am about to consult my doctor before venturing on any exercise programme, just to check that my thinness isn’t related to a medical issue.
    We reach a certain age and need to take a little more care of ourselves than before.

    I think that it’s the yogis who believe that there are only a certain number of heartbeats allocated to people in a lifetime, so you shouldn’t use them up too fast by taking violent exercise. Of course, that is one opinion. There are plenty of other approaches and what suits one person, will not suit another.

    And visit that restaurant 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • What Sarah said!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Sarah. I appreciate the insight and warm wishes. Your BMI is 17.5. Wow. I need your secret sauce. And fast….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Forget It, David. She doesn’t even have to try! Unlike us regular folk…

        Liked by 1 person

      • The secret sauce is probably anxiety, and you don’t want that. I’ve become more retiring as I’ve got older and suffer from the most terrible performance nerves sometimes before singing in front of people and have to take Bach flower essences and do breathing exercises to calm me down. The joke is that everybody thinks I’m such a calm person! As for diet, I’m not that much into puddings, but I do like cakes, although prefer my own homebaked ones that are always wholemeal and organic. Dairy produce-wise, I always have goats’ milk products (full-cream, too). People need fats for energy, but they must be the right ones. Latest thinking is that dairy fats are fine for you (although goats’ milk is preferable, as it’s easier to digest, being nearer to human milk), I cut the fat off meat. The worst fats, though, are hidden fats in junk food. Also, I’ve just stopped taking supplements, apart from Combination 12 homeopathic tissue salts. My feeling is that supplements do funny things to the appetite and make people more lax about their diet, as they think they have a safety net. I’ve just taken up eating saukraut (the one with rock salt and no vineger). It is very cleansing, balancing, and energising stuff. Most of all, it’s important to have a varied diet, with as much of it homecooked as possible. No fast food, especially fatty burgers and fries. Home fries are fine, done in olive oil and seasalt in the oven. They’re yummy. You have to find ways to reward and spoil yourself, but with healthful food. Of course, if you ban something altogether, it probably will make you crave it all the more, so if you’re good most of the time, you might get away with rewarding yourself with something naughty occasionally. On the other hand, you might lose your taste for it. All the best, Dave, for a return to full wellness,

        Liked by 1 person

  12. While I’ve been saying for years that 80% is good enough, I’m not sure it fits this scenario. You’re not an 80% man. It’s full throttle or you are not happy. And that doesn’t mix well with lightheadedness and recovery. Take care of yourself. And go to that restaurant…you just taught me the first Greek word that is exactly the same in Finnish. Kellari means cellar also in Finnish. Here’s to a peaceful stroll and a drink in Kellari 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Even when you describe your pain and fear and worries, you do so eloquently. (See? I’m trying to not chastise you and am focusing on the positive. 🙂 )
    Do give your body a chance to regroup, recoup and renew… xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  14. απλά κάνε το!!! Just do it!! in ‘Greek’ ha!
    Imagine the beautiful writing you could achieve as you sit back on a Greek island feeling the presence and gift in this moment Mr K! 🌈🌊🏄🏾

    Liked by 1 person

  15. How are YOU really feeling, Dave?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree with not pushing. The body has its limits. Which we ignore when young. And our kids don’t know it yet, but they will encounter the same thing, believe it or not. Trying to compete on the level of a 20-something is a prescription for disaster.

    Interesting Sarah speaks of yogis and breaths. Because Traditional Chinese Medicine more or less says the same thing in a different way, that we have ‘original qi’ or source qi. Then we have ‘acquired qi’ which an amazing diet, acupuncture, herbs and lifestyle changes (reasonable exercise, emotional health) can prop us up a bit. Help us out. But in the end, these bodies are terminal. Take good care of yours, sweetie. Quality of life trumps competition any day. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Bela. I too have concluded the my diet needed triage. Sugar, white bread and flour and overdoes on sweetened water/juice and fast food – is it an wonder I’m up on the rack.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David, I remember my youngest daughter, a lifelong athlete, bemoaning the fact that her high school basketball teammates could seemingly eat anything they wanted – and that was mostly junk food – while she would gain weight if she was not careful. Yes I said, but look at their hair! Their skin! One day that diet will catch up with them. And indeed that has come to pass, lo these 15 plus years later, bad diets along with too much alcohol. While Amanda is slim and beautiful with a flawless complexion, these gals look like 10 miles of bad road. And she still kills on the court!

        Dietary changes are hard to adapt to – but one must be mindful (as in all things, if life is to smooth out) and just make changes gradually. Now if you’ve really driven that bus into the wall, you might have to become more strict. But I hope there’s some latitude. REALLY good chocolate is So much better than a Hershey bar! (yuck). Pure maple syrup is SO much fuller and tastier than refined sugar – and one has to use very little of it. And so on.

        I wish you well on the journey, David.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. You shouldn’t be at work let alone doing your daily yomp across the city. Tell them to give you a driver for a month, or at the very least an intern to push you around in a wheel chair, LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I am constantly amazed by the distorted thinking and delusions of the neuro-normal. So many times, I am the same one in the room.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Makes me think of ol’ Zorba…
    ” Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble. “

    Liked by 1 person

  20. That was a well written and scary read Dave!
    Its so easy to forget how our young bodies could handle all the junk. Now that junk is toxic.
    Accept reality and become your own best friend. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Another very enjoyable, interesting post.
    I’m with Kiki…… just walk in there, just once, just do it. 🙂
    “increasingly you are feeling ok with that…”
    that comment completely hit home.
    It made me think ZEN! accept. tolerate. let go.That “can’t do THAT anymore” List, seems a bit of a kill joy. Sorry for the novel here.
    Hoping you continue to progress along each day David. Take it easy.

    Liked by 1 person

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