Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I wanted ice-cream (the lo-fat kind that is okay on my diet). Michael said he'd drive. I was in my houseshoes; I wasn't going to get out of the car.

We parked in front of the grocery store, and Michael went it. I rolled down the window and yelled, "I love you!" and he laughed.

I watched the people coming and going. Here was a construction worker with a twelve-pack of beer; here was a young mother with four kids, there goes a middle-aged man. A thin blonde woman walks past, talking on the cell phone, her hand raised in mid-air, making an exclamation to no one. Two men stare at her behind as she walks by, oblivious to their wandering eyes. I see these lives, like thin threads, intertwining and disconnecting, briefly living lives in moments.

And then, I see the old man. He stoops under the weight of his two plastic grocery bags. His gait is unsteady; he walks like a tired penguin, swaying from right to left. He makes his way from the storefront to the handicapped parking space, smiling at others. I do not see anyone smile back. Nevertheless, he continues to smile and sway, a gentle tree.

Now, he reaches his car (the tired Cadillac--his last important purchase). He rests his hand briefly on the roof of the car, as though he is taking stock of its presence. He is assuring the car--it is stable, permanent, and heavy with existence. Slowly, he opens the door and places his two modest bags in the backseat. He is still smiling at something quiet in his mind. The old man enters his car gracefully, and steadily reverses it with the caution of the elderly. He values life too much to peel out; instead, he comes to the crosswalk and pauses. I see him swivel his head two or three times to ensure no one is coming or going, and he slowly accelerates, leaving the parking lot.

I realize as I watch him drive away I am crying for this beautiful moment. I have witnessed a tiny part of this man's life, and I feel blessed to partake in the simplicity of it. I wonder if he has a wife waiting for him at home. I wonder if she has died and he lives alone in the mystery of her absence. I wonder if he has an old dog for a friend, or good neighbors, or doting children. I wonder what makes an old, unsteady man such as he so powerfully gentle, so happy, so content with his two little grocery bags and his decrepit car. I am overcome with emotion--I am part of that old man, now and forever.

As I smile at the taillights of the old man, I wait for Michael in anticipation. Suddenly, there is nothing more important to me than seeing his face, watching him walk towards me, watching him smile and look for traffic as he crosses the parking lot. He has not emerged from the store yet; I peer intently, watching the people come and go.

Then, he is walking towards me, and there is nothing more beautiful than his smile. His gait is long and he strides with casual power, and I think, "We are together", and nothing could make me happier at that moment. As he approaches the window, he waves to me, as though we are greeting one another for the first time. He sees my tears and my smile, and a look of concern passes his face.

"Are you okay, honey? What's wrong?" he asks as he places his long legs in the car, handing me the grocery bag.
"I love you," I said.
He smiles, and two little tears prick the corners of his eyes.
"I love you," he responds.
Later, that evening, falling asleep, he rests his head on my chest and we breathe simultaneously. I feel his exhalations on my breast; I hold him tight. No one can tear us asunder.

Michael: you are my clarity.
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

Location: Detroit Rock City!
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    What I Live By:
    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always— A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. -T.S. Eliot "Little Gidding"

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