Saturday, May 15, 2010

Week in Seven Words #15

The sky is orange and gray, with a gleam of lightning now and then from behind the cloud cover. The wind is panting, and the trees tremble. The storm won't contain itself much longer.

The difference between a lowercase and uppercase B stalls the programming code, though I hardly know this as I comb through the lines attempting to make sense of an ambiguous error message. It takes a friendly human, with friendly human eyes, to look through it twice and spot the difference.

I've grown used to a certain way of walking to this place; I don't think much about the turns I need to make, the landmarks and houses I walk past. That changes twice. Once at night, when a friend suggests making a shortcut through an alley and a side street, and I find my steps faltering a little, as if I'm in a foreign neighborhood. And the second time is during the day, so even the accustomed route looks a little strange - in the sunshine details leap out that have lain hidden in the dark, and I need to stop and stare and remind myself that yes, this is the street.

I make recurring efforts to neaten the room. But as my attention turns elsewhere the tidiness dissolves, and the next time I stop at the doorway and take a hard assessing look I find that the books have leapfrogged over one another, the papers have waltzed around the floor, and the shirts have turned somersaults off their shelves and onto the chairs.

The man has stretched his arms along the back of the bench; his legs are eased out in front of him, crossed at the ankles, and his spine is curved in a lazy C. His head is tipped back, his eyes probably full of sun and clouds, and I figure he's singing or maybe even talking softly to himself. I'm not prepared, when drawing within earshot, to hear the growls and foul words grinding out of his mouth.

The nightmare is both ridiculous and revealing; as I think about it afterwards, I realize how much weight I've placed on what seems to be a trivial detail, but is actually only one small part of a larger problem.

At least the day is long, and the hours don't seem to hurry. We have lunch in a breezy room and talk there for a good while after. I savor the time without consciously forcing myself to do so. There's a lot I've learned from this small group of people, and many days I've had great fun being with them. I don't think it's sunk in yet, how I'll miss the frequency of our meetings.


John Hayes said...

These seven words seem narrative in an intriguing way--the "conversation" between "agitation" & "magnify," between "capitalize" & "escapades" etc--they all underline each other, with "windup" appropriately enough acting as a coda--tho it too was anticipated in a sense in "capitalize." A great set of words.

HKatz said...

Thanks! With these words a lot of times I don't consciously think about a larger narrative or other relationships between them, but they'll often emerge.