Friday, July 18, 2014
Blinded by the Light
Everything felt wrong from the start. The house silent, the sky filled with a strange light, my mother in the kitchen fully dressed at 7:00 a.m. Where was the the click and hiss of the oxygen machine? Where was the narcoleptic woman who so often stands at my kitchen island in some liminal state talking to her dead twin?
No one showed up to t'ai chi chih, and I kept wondering if it was me. Did I have the wrong time or the wrong day? Was I in a gym that looked like my gym, but wasn't. I went to the beach. So much earlier than usual that things felt off there too. I saw dolphins immediately or I might have turned and run. Then the dead appeared. It's not so unusual to see a dead sea lion washed up on the sand. It happens. This isn't Sea World. But the dead sea turtle was a new experience for me. And what about the two guys clicking away over the bodies with their iPhones. Glad I'm not their Facebook friends.
When I rounded the curve, the tide was way out just like yesterday, and for a moment I toyed with the idea of walking/swimming to the breakwater. Coffee mug. iPhone. Car key. What does one do with these things if you get a spontaneous urge to walk on water? Then he called to me. "Have you ever seen it look like this?" he asked. A guy with a bike and a large backpack lying at his feet. He meant the water. "It's never out this far," he said. I concurred that it seemed a tad unusual, but the ocean does what it does, and it does not adhere to my schedule. I am there at the same time every day while the tides have their own clock. "You see that?" the guy asked pointing to the sun. "Watch this." He strode a few feet away. "Look, it's still in line with me. The real sun doesn't do that. That is military. It's a satellite."
"Wow," I said. Partially to humor him and partially because everything still felt all wrong, and I didn't have a better explanation. He went on about polar ice caps and tsunamis and how I should have an inflatable raft.
"Look up," he said. "You're wearing good sunglasses. Look at it." I tugged the brim of my hat down and looked up, afraid I'd end up with an eyepatch like him. Blind because a stranger commanded me to stare into the sun, and I did it. He read my mind then. Touched his temple next to the bad eye and told me he was shot in 1980-something. Showed me his ear and told me he had cochlear implants. Told me about his ADHD and how his smart phone helps him. I told him he seemed to know a lot about a lot of things and then he seemed like he was doing okay. And he was.
"See those people over there," I said. They're looking for beach glass. I had to explain what it was. "I'm going to look, too."
"Don't cut your feet," he said.
I found a couple of pieces, and then I took refuge with the birds. I took a few seconds of video of California Least Terns and Snowy Plovers, but they've disappeared from my photo stream. Odd, isn't it?