Walking Cross-Town. Untied. Unhinged.

shoes-socks-mens

Eyes are closed. Water spills over shoulders. Steam spills over the top of the shower curtain. If there is a God, this is his Temple. One of life’s simplest and most magnificent pleasures.

I turn up the heat, and just stand, arms down, shoulders curled and leaning forward – I breathe.  Snippets of Mary Oliver leak in…”But mostly I just stand…in the middle of the world, breathing in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name but breath and light, wind and rain.”

Release.

I step out. Towel dry.  One eye is on the clock. Can’t miss the 6:16 to get to an 8 am meeting in Midtown.

I pull on knee length socks.  It was less than 30 seconds, 30 years ago, but his words still bite.  The wound still fresh, the cuts over something so small yet replayed thousands of times since and triggered each morning when I slide on my socks. “Over-the-calf socks are crude,” he said. “One shouldn’t see the hair on your legs. And polish your shoes.” Crude.

I button shirt. Slide on pants. Loop belt. Tie tie.

I grab shoes, set them down and lean over.

I pull on both ends of the laces on the left shoe.

SnapDamn! [Read more…]

Walking. Cross-Costco.

cream-puffs

We’re on a Costco run.

I’m generally not invited on Costco runs due to some Priors, some unfortunate displays of lack of self-control, some poor judgment, followed by regrets: “It won’t happen again.”

But rations were way down, there was some heavy mule work required, and so, here I am, with my adult chaperone.

The front of the store is stacked from floor to ceiling with 65″ HDTVs, deeply discounted laptops and seasonal deals on cell phones. Gadget man’s entire body is trembling, but is pulled forward with a scolding: “You don’t need any more. Come on!”

It’s 10:30 am and I’m working here on an empty stomach. The nose catches a whiff of chocolate and separately, of cheese. Sampling Stations! 

“I’ll catch up with you later.” I can feel the stink eye on my back, but first things first. I turn and head across the store, the stimulated nostrils acting as the GPS. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With a Tin Cup.

face-of-hand-abstract

The moment, seconds really, should have degraded into an inkblot, edges fraying, burrowing to lose itself among the billions of other moments, stored for retrieval at a later date when a similar moment showed up. Aha, I remember that.

But No.

This one Rises, floats on Top, bobbing up and down, making sure it isn’t lost. Remember this, it seems to say. Don’t forget this, it needs to say.

I’m walking Cross-Town on 47th. It’s dark. It’s early, 6:23 am. And, it’s Cold – sub 35° F, with winds gusting. Feels like 26° F. Biting.

I’m wearing a trench coat, knee length, its heavy lining leaning in on my shoulders. It’s zipped to the throat.

The fur lined leather gloves keep the hands and fingers toasty. I grip my case with one, and swing the other, the motion pulling me forward, the pace quick, the blood and bones warming from the movement.

And there he was.

Alone. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With Law & Order.

train-subway-motion-rails

Tuesday evening. Downtown Manhattan. I’m hailing a cab. Rich food swims in Chardonnay. Wind bursts chill the bones: Winter.

I flip on Waze with an eye out for a cab – 16 minutes to Grand Central.  The 8:36 train departs in 18 minutes.  Unlikely, but possible.

“Be great if I can catch the 8:36.” This is NYC Cabbie code – a much larger tip in it for you if you giddyap.  It’s the American Way: Proper incentives = desired behavior.  I buckle my seatbelt, grip the armrest and hope for the best.

“8:36?”

“Yes.”

He bolts through traffic – Rabbit with lock on the Carrot. Think bumper car or go cart sans contact, with the same weaving, bobbing, braking and jarring.

We arrive at the station at 8:36.  I run to the gate, hopeful for a train delay.  I watch the fading red tail lights down the tunnel, wheezing, trying to catch my breath. Damn!  Next train, 30 minutes.

I walk to the next gate, board the train, find a seat, and get comfortable. Chardonnay burns off. Fatigue rolls in, eyes are burning on four hours of sleep. I pop in my ear buds, turn on soft ambient music, lean my head against the window, and close my eyes. Just 10 minutes, please, just 10. 

The smartphone buzzes in my pocket, a text message. Let it go. Just let it go. [Read more…]

Running. With 0.5 Wolfpack.

mianus-river-park-nov-2016

Kids: “Dad, People just don’t do that. It’s weird.”
Dad: “Listen, I’m not People.”
Kids: Eyes roll. Whispering to each other, don’t we know that.

My text message is sent to the neighbors the night before.
“…Will Anya be free to come out to play in the morning?”
Text message comes zipping back.
“…Of course. We’ll leave the door unlocked, and the leash by the door.”

This has become a weekend routine.

She now knows what’s coming when the leash is by the door. She hears the car pull up, its daybreak. I walk up to the door, there’s a soft “woof” – she’s been waiting. I can hear the pitter patter of her paws on the wood floor. I open the door and she bounds out, ready to join her new BFF.

When you lose your dog, when the wounds are still fresh, and you haven’t / can’t replace your dog, what do you do?  You borrow the neighbor’s Dog, of course. It’s not weird, it’s a bloody necessity. 0.5 Wolfpack is better than no Wolfpack at all. [Read more…]

It’s been a long day

dance-car-traffic

I-95 N.

Leaving work early.

Traffic has slowed to crawl at the notorious rush hour bottleneck at Exit 8 in Stamford, 10 minutes from home. There’s a towering billboard overhead shouting: Think Train. (Or something like it. Let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story.)

My Speed: < 5 mph and slowing. Red tail lights flashing and aglow in all directions on six lanes.

There was unusual calm in this moment on the asphalt.

And then ––

There’s the unmistakeable crush of metal on metal…

I snap my head up to see an oncoming car bearing down on me in the rear view mirror.

Everything moves in hyper slow motion now…

I brace for impact. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. Children of a Lesser God.

walking

It’s late afternoon Thursday. We’re walking up 47th street dodging the lingering jewelers, puffing on their Marlboros, blowing smoke rings, their arms out with pamphlets: “We buy Gold Sir, top price.” If I had gold, I wouldn’t be traipsing up 47th street rushing to catch a commuter train. Step back.

My colleague is in front. I’m trailing. He’s a New Yorker to the core, from birth, wily and confident. And you, you Friend, are country, and you can’t take Country out of the Boy.

I catch him and finish sharing a moment:

“I just can’t let it go. I’ve been carrying this with me for two days.”

He pauses: “Are you nuts?  Don’t give it another thought. This is New York. Anything could have happened.”

He veers right.

“You’re right. See you tomorrow.”  I push on to Grand Central.

Anything could have happened.

It was Tuesday morning, early.

I exit Grand Central. It was brisk, and dark. I wait for the light to turn, and I cross Madison. There’s plenty of time before my morning meeting, no need to push it. Music is streaming in.  I’m lip synching James Taylor’s Country Road : “But I could feel it Lord, on a Country Road, Walk on Down…But you know I could feel it child, yeah – Walking on a country road, I guess I know where my feet want me to go.” 

I hit repeat, and James sweeps me away again. Lightly Child, Lightly. And on this morning, I’m right there in that sweet groove with Ahab, “he never thinks, he just feels, feels, feels.” And on this morning, here I am, a tall sunflower leaning into the Sun. Sweet Jesus, why can’t I find this place more often.

I pass into a dim section of the street.

He appears directly in front of me from Nowhere.

Unshaven. 5’9″. Tattered corduroys, dark windbreaker.  And in my space. I step back, and lift my hand up signaling back, my torso trembling. I re-grip my case. I pull the ear buds out. And Brace.

He points to his ears and emits a muffled: “I’m deaf. I need help.” [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. The Morning After…

train-tracks-paris-metro

Just another ordinary autumn morning in November. But, and it’s a big But, this one follows the U.S. Presidential election.

It’s the first train to Grand Central: the 5:01 am. The 1% fills this train. The traders, the bankers, the Suits, the professional class.

I am Them.

Overnight, the Earth has shifted, and cracked.

All heads in this train car are down.  The gleaming late model Apple devices beam the story lines. “Election results driven by the poor white…the rural vote…the non-college educated…”  These written words coming from the same college educated who got it all so wrong, are now anxiously explaining what went wrong and why, and they are soon to pivot to telling us what happens next. Stunned.

The Words coming from these pens and keyboards (and now digested by their Readers) are less confident today, less certain about outcomes, and fear a change of the status quo.  Mary Oliver describes the anxiety in ‘Sister Turtle’: “You can fool a lot of yourself but you can’t fool the soul. That worrier.” [Read more…]

Running. With Lessons for Rachel.

rachel-steps

She started it.

With the taunts. The insults: “Jelly Belly.” “Man Boobs.” “Sad.”

This being Daddy’s Girl.

Daddy’s Creation. I built THAT.

She’s 2x younger. Or better stated, Dad’s 2x older.

And, then, she threw out the bait.

Dad: “Let’s compare daily step counts. Download this App.  Maybe we can get that (pointing to the belly) in better shape.”

So, it has become a Father-Daughter ritual.

Each night, before bedtime, we check our step counts via a text share.

Week 1 was a partial week and a ramp up week – – and her gloating.

Week 2 is the first full week and both sides are in full stride.

She shares her report tonight.  Her steps are shown above – along with her step count each day for the last 7 days.

My response: “Not bad Honey.  :)

I then reciprocate and send her my daily report. (Below) [Read more…]

Running. With Hoka.

cloud-float-tree-branch

You don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself…No no no no…

That’s Fink playing “Looking too Closely“. (Always too closely.)  I’m running on the Mianus River Park trail and the lyrics trigger moments two Saturday’s back.

I grab the shoe off the shelf and wait for help. She’s serving another customer but sees me lurking. She offers up a warm smile and lip syncs: One Minute. She’s 5 feet flat, silver hair, middle aged and a wisp. Or that’s what memory seems to draw. “Kim”, I think.

My expectations for national retailers couldn’t be lower. Less than zero. Salespeople uninformed, unhelpful. Inventory stocks, a slow intravenous drip via IV – on life support.  Size unavailable. Width unavailable. Color unavailable. Brand unavailable. 15% higher priced. Because of me and Amazon Prime,  and my need for it now, right NOW, they fall. Sports Authority. Blockbuster Video. Circuit City. Brookstone. Waldenbooks. Barnes & Noble. Borders. Gone.

Yet, this retail store is Alien in today’s landscape. It starts at the entrance. From the cool feel of the aluminum door handle on the wood grain door to the greeting you receive as you enter – a retail sanctuary. Can I help you? And they actually help… [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: