Messages written on pink “While you were out” notes
October 29, 2007
I am a receptionist with no answers. I pick up the phone and on the line is a woman who identifies herself: “HB,” in proper diction, like a movie star with great restraint, like my mother from the salt sun California coast. Silence in the background, she asks to change her season ticket hockey seats to ones that have backs on them.
So politely she asks, I begin to weep at the thought of her vulnerable back on the bleachers, and her beautiful voice crushed in the arena yell.
And I feel pain that people with voices like hers ever feel pain, and that hockey games give their lives some comfort, some security. I feel pain that humans have private, emotional pain, and that people degrade themselves in thought or action.
A workman rewiring the phone system in the office and humming bell clock tower melodies relaxes me at my desk, transcendentally. He hums loudly in front of me, as if I am not there. I sit seduced by sound coming from his lungs. It soothes my eyes and tingles my skin the way love does.
Sitting alone in the cafeteria I remember two days ago: the anniversary of VN’s death exactly one year ago. Parked on the gray beach during a storm, we sat in my car. We drank and smoked and watched the tide come in over the lobster traps. Windows fogged in, my brother called from the west coast, and his voice came to me amongst the waves. While I was talking to him, she sat next to me and said, “back up a little, up the hill, then drive as fast as you can into the ocean. Turn your wipers on and we will float.” I held onto my brother’s voice as if a life raft, as if flipping off death, and ignored her wish.
I think of the one who gave me a room full of color to get well in. A room half in the earth of river island, put together haphazardly, from my haphazard decision to stay in Maine. Children beating life upstairs, a bed on the floor to dream like the spirits dream.