Friday, July 15, 2005

The Future Is Unwritten

Another cafe. This one smells vaguely of garbage, has falling-apart furniture with stuffing poking through the holes. Two women, sitting together near the door to the alley, each talking on cellphones and clutching paper cups. A man blowing cigarette smoke through the open front door. I am aware that I am being followed. I accept this. I have my escape plan, for now. I can't leave this city yet. It is too important, this peace and sense of purpose we have together. When I'm alone I notice hunger and hurt, and disturbing headlines. Last night I could not sleep and wandered through the park, practically daring an attack. I rested on a bench, under the violet sky, thinking of the Gandhi quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world." That I cannot be. Perhaps a destructive nature can be good, if it re-establishes balance. If. What if I fail? I thought about the desert community, those children in the school room. Is that what I want? I lack a utopian imagination. My mind fixes on individuals. An individual. I am, essentially, a servant.

The cruelest assessment I ever made about myself is that I cannot change. Yet somehow it happened anyway. How is it then, that I can trust my own strength?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

in the grid

The city offers its own escapes... a different route to take home at night, a different coffeeshop to pause in in the morning. This one has a row of nearly full-length windows stretching along the front, and as I sit with my back to a brick wall, I can watch the business-suited passersby lose their money to a broken newspaper dispenser. They struggle for a moment, then go on their way, already forgetting. When I try to tell people the paper is mostly full of distractions, I encounter the kind of resistance reserved for evangelists. There are certain things one cannot "joke" about. Even though I am not joking. These distractions are very serious indeed.

I don't know if the man who came out of the basement stairwell last night and grabbed me wanted my laptop, or was some kind of untrained merc. But in the moment that I broke his arm and left him howling on the sidewalk I felt, in the fullest sense, the days of my illness were over. As much as I have longed to be free of my burdens I could not live happily as a defenseless person, without the exhilaration of combat.

Sometimes it is better to fight than to run... fighting to stay here, for example. Fighting to remain back among friends. And as for the complexity those friendships, I could write pages more...

This morning I stood outside an Eastern Orthodox church, as the old ladies in their bright summer suits clustered outside after mass. I wonder what their god would think of someone who can only show love by bringing death to those who would harm the one she's sworn to protect? Is there a space in between the circles of hell reserved just for me?