Head down, hands jammed in pockets, I know just where I am going.
I move into the diner with the singleminded determination of a swimmer chopping through the channel. The dissonant clash of voices both happy and harsh, crash against me like wave after wave of ocean spray. It is hard, hard, harder to breathe. I can’t breathe. I bob and dip and thrash until finally my body sighs safe into a booth. At last. By myself. I am here.
A Spanish Omelette? Oatmeal and Banana? Lentil Soup? Turkey on Rye? Lime Jello? What do I want? How do they taste? Does it matter?
When the waitress comes she gently arches her eyebrows. In return I slightly nod my head. In a moment, two poached eggs in a cup, toasted bagel dry, and fruit cup are silently placed before me. She knows.
The hot coffee flows black and strong into my cup, down my throat, seeping throughout my veins, suffusing my whole self. Bold and bracing even if I am not.
The sounds of voices rumble around me like missiles missing the mark.
I am surrounded. How am I still safe?
I sit alone. I am small. Insignificant. Ridiculous even. I know. Squinty-eyed. Rumpled clothes askew. Hair flying every which way. I know.
Will they laugh? Will they point? Will I notice? Will I care?
And yet. Phalanxed behind my massive plastic coated menu, burrowed into the foxhole of my booth, I remember:
- my friend who snips from her lilac bush each May to bring me an intoxicating, paper towel-wrapped bundle of spring
- The bags of salted licorice my husband walks twenty blocks out of his way for
- Life Goes to the Movies, a yearned for surprise presented to me by my mother at The Little Gym
- The Pink Ring of Power, better known as the Star Sapphire Power Ring from the Green Hornet, created out of star sapphires to fight against fear and hate. A gift from three intrepid crime fighters.
- so much more
And then like one waking from slowly from slumber, my aching soul begins to sing and soar once again, like a mote caught in an updraft.
Two poached eggs, toasted bagel dry, a cup of fruit. The platters are clean. I can move again. It is time to leave.
When I rise this time I do not bob and I do not weave. I walk. Once again I am whole. Brave again and buoyed, I float. And then, once again, I fly.