I think I will write in good old exterior mode, because I need to wrap my brain around a considerable number of perspectives at this particular moment. I may update later. I took a lot of pictures today.
The ignition element on the heat source had gone out the night before, the machine sucking air to a burn pot that was stone cold, not even the smallest glow was visible when she peered into the dark space between the firebox and the ashpan.
This morning she didn’t even have to try to get in the car to make the long-to-her drive to the southside of the city, to seek a replacement that she could install before the cold night. It was something she needed to do, something that she was glad that she knew how to do.
The radio played songs with words that had begun to remind her of her own story and she smiled broadly as she drove, certain that everything would be okay. She knew a lot about what she had always called ‘the human spirit’ – she learned it from listening to the stories people she had known had shared with her, from seeing all sorts of people be broken and remain somewhat intact. Some do, of course, restore themselves more effectively than others. However, she – as she frequently reminds herself – she was never near as broken as she and others had thought.
And so she didn’t deny herself the pleasure of singing along as loudly as she could, harmonizing with songs recorded years ago, smiling at the people in the cars that passed her. At the store that sold her the stove, she was informed that it was unlikely that the part was in stock.
However, when the man went to check in the back he discovered that, while they only had one ignition element in stock, it was the correct one for the make and model of the machine she had.
It felt like the luckiest day ever.
On her way back to town, she realized she should go and see her friend at the Farmer’s Market, because if he did want to save her, well, he probably didn’t want to save her for his own self-congratulatory purposes. She knew that he was simply a good old man who sold flowers and vegetables, told lively stories. He also prayed for her, and she appreciated that – the kindness and intention of thought that was directed her way.
In fact, he told her today that on Tuesday he went to the Basilica and he almost cried when he said that there were only five people in the beautiful old sanctuary, but thousands across the street, waiting to sit in hard seats, rows away from one another…listening to an overpaid talent make sounds. He told me that when he knelt before The Sacrament, he found a pink and white plastic rosary, placed it in Fatima’s hands and prayed there. Then he gave the rosary to her and she thanked him and told him, calmly but haltingly about how the sky had looked to her on Tuesday afternoon (after she had driven around applying for jobs and ready to wash her hands of the whole thing) how it had seemed to take those familiar forms again and how her chest had expanded so impossibly.
They talked of other things for a while, regular things, everyday things. Back in the car, she sang just as loudly as before, just plain happy – to have gotten the replacement part she needed and to have visited with a kind friend amongst bins and crates of brightly colored things that grew. At a stoplight, she smiled at every single person that turned left onto the road she was on, not hugely, not wildly, just happily…because she was happy. The stoplight didn’t change. She sat and smiled through a whole song and it still didn’t change. She didn’t care. She was waiting for the light to turn green, because that is what people are supposed to do. She finally, after seeing a man get out of his car and wave his arms angrily a few cars behind her, ran the light – because she had to, people were stuck behind her, there were horns honking.
And she went home and she took pictures of the sky and wished that she could cry and she thought about the story she had read with her boy a few nights back, about the old beast who lived underground and who had forged a friend from precious metal and powdered gems and who had used his own tears to work the material into something beautiful, but lifeless. In the story it was the frustration of not being able to cry that finally prompted a tear to drop from the beast’s nose. His friend only became a bee after he took it above ground, offered it to God to breathe life into it. And then, of course, the bee was held captive by the selfish beast and was constantly trying to escape…and then, of course, it did.
She thought about how the story was from a book that her father had checked out for the children from the library and then she cried. She thought about her story, her entire life and she cried for that, not out of sadness, but perhaps something akin to a feeling of going home. She knew that if what she knew was true…everything would change, that somehow everything had already changed, even if nobody really understood yet.
She didn’t cry long, just long enough to prove to herself that she still could. For a long time, it has only been her children that can bring her to tears, but she doesn’t like to cry about them or for them – because she wants their story to be a happier one, free from worry.
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