Bulbs

So many things happen that you don’t know where to put.

1. I went to a wedding party.  I used to babysit for a family of three kids.  One of them grew up, got sick, and died.  The other two were at the party.  It made me think about how we were alive.  We danced until I was sweaty and woozy.  There was a little boy who danced just as much as I did.  He even did spinning breakdancer moves.  As I was leaving, a man with white hair said to me, “That is a beautiful dress,” and I didn’t know how to take that.

2. I met a friend and we ate hamburgers.  I decided to drink a glass of wine instead of a milkshake.  He drank a milkshake.  I felt I had made the right decision.

3. I asked my niece what she wanted for Christmas.  “I want a microphone.  And a globe.  And I want to be teacher.”

“What do teachers need?” I asked.

“Highlighters!” she said.

4. I opened the ziploc of Christmas ornaments I’d bought, and set them on the mantle.  They are plastic, but look glass.  Red and green, shiny.  When I bought them, my mother said, “This place used to be J.C. Penney, and I bought my first maternity clothes here.”

5. I got up and out to go to church for the first time in a while.  It was only raining, but as I approached the church (two blocks from home, like most things here), someone opened a door and called out, “Church is canceled!”

“Good to know!” I answered, and then I wondered if he thought I was going to church, or going somewhere else, or if my answer sounded like I was being coy with church, like, eh, I didn’t want to go anyway.

I turned the corner and went into the closest coffee place to me.

I sat and picked at my oatmeal, which was not great, as none of the food there is great, though that might be lucky, because if it was great, I’d probably live there. I ended up talking with a guy who was willing to talk my ear off.

I learned about motorcycle gals, teachers accused, people with family money who get away with things, children who were killed and had group funerals.

That was good.  I had an unsocial day ahead, a day of snowing and cancellations.  He was wiling to dish local dirt, tell me a lot of things I probably shouldn’t know.  We were a good conversational match.  I decided to firmly put away my trip-wire fury at having men talk too much and not even notice I was a person, in order to enjoy the admittedly interesting assorted stories he would offer.

We talked and talked and talked.  The owner of the place sat with a buddy and methodically re-bulbed and re-wired a sign that would someday light up to say, “Merry Christmas.”  Their attention to this matter, particularly in contrast to what I knew would be my own response (throw the thing away), was touching.  They checked each bulb, plugged it back in, discussed what else to try.

Image: electric lamp designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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