Check In, Don’t Check Out

Just like the Roach Motel…So very many things going on right now. As. We. Speak.

Trying to braid together all the bits and pieces of my life, I was at the Encinal Market the other day, first traipsing around the chi-chi grocery store in search of Advent calendars to chocolatize my children. But someone had purchased their entire stock (how selfish is that?), and we are left sans little chocky-windows to open and feast upon. How sad. I was on my way to meet with the newbie editor of the Sun and since I had just come from the dentist and had not yet had coffee or food, I stopped in at the coffee shop, Au Lait. Ran into an acquaintance there, Rona, who designs jewelry and about whom we’d done a short piece for Alameda Magazine a year ago. Was speaking with her, when she looked behind me out the front door and started screaming. I turned and couldn’t see anything amiss. She ran toward the door, screaming, “Call 911, call 911!”

I looked again and saw this tiny little old lady, 80 or more years old and as fragile as the fluff on a dandelion, legs up, walker entangled with her legs, down in the parking lot next to a car, and two ladies trying to help her up. One more step toward the door and I saw blood gushing from her head, her delicate pink scalp, where she’d bashed into the curb. I spun and grabbed the shop’s phone and dialed, told them to send ambulance, gave details, etc. The poor thing had rolled right off the edge of the curb toward the car, right after getting her hair done in the most exquisite little bouffant. I can’t even express how tiny and birdlike, how like a china eggshell doll this lady was. Transparent. Waxy. So pink. So bloody. Silent, she lay there, not a word or a cry, and the paramedics came, wrapped her head in white gauze and took her away. Ruined her hairdo. Ruined her day, but I don’t know if she noticed. She was eiderdown. A man sidled up to me in the confusion and whispered, “She’s 100 years old.” The other “old lady” was her daughter, 70 or more herself.

They drove away and I went inside, suddenly shaken by the onslaught of adrenaline, no food, no coffee. I took my food and drink upstairs and chatted with the new editor and gave the party line about how the business is run. No frills, no expense account, you know the drill. The canned speech that had to be read. The same old thing.

But I can’t get the lady’s image out of my head. I can’t guess if she lived or if this is the ultimate insult. It feels tragic and so cruel. Twine that with the emotional saga of James Kim and his heroic efforts to save his family. His resourcefulness, his refusal to give up, his endless march into the frigid wilderness until exhausted from lack of food, hypothermic, so very tired; he was caught in an icy creek between sheer walls and drowned, we believe. We hoped against hope. He heroed his family, carried them in his pocket, determined to save them — and they were saved. I’ll bet that would have made him happy, and that he would have willingly given his life for them. I’ll bet any man worth his salt would have done the same. I don’t know the family, had never heard of them, and don’t know what I would do — probably fuck it up, somehow. But I feel a sort of fierce pride, combined with intense sorrow for his grieving widow and their two daughters who will never know him now. It’s a lot to take in, these deaths, these grievous injuries.

Meanwhile, at home, I have not Christmas-shopped but for one swift trip on Black Friday, and the day draws near, but so does Patrick’s back surgery, and until we get past that day, I haven’t the wattage to think on winter holidays. Gimme a few days and I will.

More to tell, but the brain needs water and rest, so back to you soon.

Peace out —

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