In the Burning Phase of My Life.

To befriend the shadow girl in the mirror…

Life At Street Level.

What I'm aiming for...daily peace.

When we made the decision to move to New Orleans earlier this year from Arizona, we knew that we would be giving up certain things. We were going to be living on our own for the first time in a long time. This would mean giving up the constant companionship of our two wonderful friends and housemates, Robert and Jill. It would mean giving up a lot of comforts that they had so selflessly provided us with for so long. And it also meant giving up the use of Jill’s Blazer (BBB!) which she had allowed me to use as if it were my very own vehicle.
At first, this seemed like an enormous, uphill inconvenience. I mean, I had been so sick last year with anorexia before treatment and just afterwards that I could barely walk around the block. How could I POSSIBLY walk around New Orleans all the time, a city that still was unfamiliar to me once you diverged from the usual tourist spots. Plus, the summer heat and humidity made it feel like I was searing my soul in a hot skillet. So I trudged, my head down, just hoping to make it to my destinations.
And then, over time, it slowly changed.
The weather became cooler. The streets seemed to be shorter, and more like, well, home. As I began to walk with ever-growing confidence, my strides became longer and my shoulders thrown back. These two simple physical actions pulled my head up from my feet, and I could all at once take in everything around me.
Life is very different when you are not speeding by it at sixty miles an hour and observing it through a rolled-up window. The colors are richer, the smells stronger. You are innately aware of all of the sound and the life flowing around you, the symphony of life at street level. Each breath in and out brings a new perception. Life on foot gives you the ability to slow down and see the small miracles that happen every day when you are not worrying about when your red light turns to green.
This frosty morning, after walking my son Thor to his school bus stop, I headed down Magazine street, bound for home. There, I saw an older lady waiting for her ride to pick her up. I had stopped to talk to her before, about the weather and whatnot, and we had smoked a cigarette together. I passed her by two days after that, and she greeted me and asked if I had an extra cigarette. I obliged her that day and was off on my own way home.
This morning as I placed one foot in front of the other, I saw her again, waiting again in the same spot. Her head was turned and she did not see me, so I perhaps could have just walked by. But life is different now, not speeding by me with three hundred-horsepower. So I stopped.
I saw that she did not have her customary cigarette in her hand. So I pulled out my pack and offered her one. Her face lit up. And since I had no one behind me, honking their horn, and only my feet on the pavement to tell me what would happen now, I decided to stay and smoke with her.
We puffed away, the smoke and steam from the winter morning making two dragon-plumes of human exhaust, timed to our staccato bursts of laughter. I listened to her talk about her life, what was concerning her now, what made her get up in the morning with that sunny smile that she always has. It’s not that her life is always good. It’s just that she understands that life happens at the speed and manner in which it MUST happen.
Today, I made a friend, because I was moving slowly enough to really see her.
I am not suggesting that all of you should give up your vehicles, because I know what a boon it is to have the convenience of rapid transport when it is needed. All I am saying is to sometimes leave the car keys on the desk when time allows, and go forth bravely on foot. See life at street level. You just may experience something that changes your life.
Oh, and in this day of rising gas and insurance prices, with no car I seem to have a lot more extra money to budget towards coffee and cigarettes…


March 11, 2010 Posted by | Little ribbons of life. | , , | 2 Comments