Mother Nature’s Bounty On My Head

I scream today, just to see if I can. A coughing fit follows. I SCREAM louder and precede to sing, wheeze and squeak. My lungs throat and stomach muscles want to stop but that would mean drowning in my own fluids. I believe Mother Nature placed a bounty on my head for whichever of her allergens can “take me out.” Yet even with this in mind, I enjoy going out for walks tissue box and inhaler in hand.

I want the rhino standing on my face to leave. “Go to a doctor” says Arthur. “No,” I say. “Try the phone book.” “I’m not so desperate that smacking my face with the phone book is a solution,” I smirk. Arthur huffs, returns a quick grin and continues cataloging the new shipment of books. He means well; I am just stubborn and don’t like spending money on doctors of any sort. I don’t know where this angst finds its roots. After my trip to the emergency room and consequent 2 day stay in the hospital, you think I’d go early before I get worse. Nope. It is allergies or a sinus infection, but if I end up hospitalized again for some respiratory problem,they want to do surgery.

I don’t want to be cut up all because of tiny specs in the air. It amazes me that allergens and viruses, so small, can disrupt a whole human system. Simply walking in the sun and being outside these claustrophobic constructs of timber and plaster makes me feel lighter. True, it does prompt my nose to run like its in the summer olympics, but it’s worth it.

I get to lose all the work I have at my studio office. I get to fill my mind with obtuse colorful sunlit details. Dad’s in one of his moods too, so that is nice to escape. He is tired from work and home annoyances just make it worse, work at home and work at Work. I want to make a sandwich, but more so I want to stay out of Daddy’s crosshairs.

Schools are letting out, a crossing-guard, we’ll call her Josie, sits reading to her dalmatian after flipping the switch on the crossing sign. The dull alternating lights slow the drivers down back under the speed limit. A few kids are two blocks away, Josie keeps reading. Dog and master both so intent on her book, does Ralph the dalmatian understand or just enjoy the attention. I look back at the kids. Slugging on step after step in early May, so close and yet so far.

An old man in the on-coming traffic pulls his pick-up to the roadside. Mismatching straps bundle down sheets of shiny corrugated steal in the bed of the pick-up. With his soft tan wrinkles awobble and his john deer cap he leans over the passenger seat asking if this road will get him to provo canyon. It seems an odd question being so close to our canyon. Is he delivering the metal? “Yeah,” I say “but you’re still a ways off.” I try to give a couple directions. He bobs his head, “but it is in this direction right?” “Uh-huh,” I say. He offers his thanks and pulls away. I am standing therefore for a bit. I metaphorically was scratching my head. He still had to drive through three cities. Maybe he just didn’t want to risk driving on a busy road or highway with the load of steal in the back.  Or perhaps it surprised me that an older man wouldn’t know where he was in comparison to the mountains’ canyons. I sometimes assume my elders are all knowing especially when in a medicated cloud.

As I keep walking all the talk of canyons makes me look up at the mountains. No matter how pretty, they still loom and threaten. “Hah ha,” say the mauve and white ridges in the distance. “We’ve got you surrounded.” The one towering nearest me seems to challenge,”Just try. Try and climb over. I’d like to see that.” I can. I have, but once you reach the top of a mountain the obvious direction is back down. The mountains would be okay if not for the valleys. I wish I had God’s authority and could sweep them out of the way and run straight and level to the Atlantic. I shake off the anger the mountains unknowingly inspired.

I put their mocking calls behind me and keep going. I pass another church and a corral of horses ends the sidewalk. I step up on the lowest green bar of the fence. The two paints look up from feeding and wander over probably hoping for a hand out. I regret not having an apple or carrot. I would like to spend time with the beautiful powerhouses. Brush them. Feed them. Ride them, even clean up after them. It makes me want to work in a stable. The fancy passes and I climb down, say goodbye to the two sets of big brown eyes and turn to make the trek back home.

I go through discovery park. Past the playground castle and onto path around the green. A young couple on a blanket are wrapped up in each other whispering. Their legs tangle. I feel a rush, that would be nice. I should ignore, but I want to watch them. I keep glancing back. Blonde, she wears jeans. Brown, he wears cargos. I can’t tell if they are handsome, they speak with faces so close. So close, they might as well be kissing, but their not or not just then. The moment they share seems so intimate. They shouldn’t be in public and yet a beautiful place to have chosen. I would if I could; I look my last.

Asphalt and tar patches crisscross the path and stop me. The warmth of the sun has made it malleable. With my toe I push it completely out of form. As another couple, both brunette this time, walk pass me they look at me. I feel their look calls me a derelict. I pat the tar and stone back to its original place. I take two steps after them before realizing I don’t want to walk behind the happy, hand-in-hand couple. I want to have her hourglass shape and hold the hand of him who’s dark curls I can tousle.

Since I can’t have that, I guess I’ll cut through the center of the ball park. I imagine Arthur’s words, “HE has a girlfriend.” He knows the boy with the curls. “I know,” I say out loud walking the foul-line of  right field. We could have fun together Arthur. I just know it. I could watch Curls play and cheer him on. Hoot and whistle when his swing clangs of bat on ball. Hopping up and down sending popcorn everywhere. Shouting with the rest of the crowd as he and his two teammates make it all the way back to home plate. Curls winks at me shaking his clasped hands first to his right then his left, comedic in his triumph. Two more innings as the announcer reminds the guests to visit the concession stand. “All proceeds go to support our teams.” I pass the fence  back onto the green. The lights aren’t on, the smell of popcorn, nachos and hotdogs fades, the rupturous sounds ebb. Afternoon and I want to be out of the park with its couples, bright green grass and quashed dandelions, raked rust-colored infield dust, and preparatory white lines.

Away from the thought of Curls. A thought can be a hard thing to leave behind. A friend pulls up in front of her house just off her shift at TacoAmigo. Micheal Jackson blares from the windows and snaps off as she climbs out. Small talk: she has a date with Tom tonight (not sure what), she had thought she recognized me walking earlier, I might have a new job soon, did she know friends were meeting tonight at Jack and Jill’s.  It does the trick.

A few houses down has a sweet old chevy mid-repairing. Bluebell, the chevy, has sat in that drive as long as I’ve been in the neighborhood never changing. I think it’d be fun to repair as a husband-wife project. Why do so many things sound better when shared? The repairs on Bluebell are amateurish, sad for such a beauty. The end product could be heavenly though. I wonder if an engagement would be long enough to restore one. Then after it could be the wedding night’s getaway car. I get giddy thinking of the car’s detailing and engine work.

From auto to nature shifts my thoughts. It is hard to appreciate the colored blossoms when you know they are part of the reason your face is swelling and the rhino’s still standing on your face. I don’t remember coughing as much in the ball park, not as much bloomin’ foliage. Back on the sidewalk with houses and trees and flowers, however, it reigns at full force. I look forward to deep summer, because then my roses will bloom. All roses, by the way, are my roses. Classic red-green, the complimentary contradiction are the color I prefer.

I’m back home. Daddy’s gone somewhere, Mom is getting dinner started and the pile of yard weeds hasn’t moved. The house seems so dark after all the bright sunlight. Tonight I mean to sleep well and early, and awaken early before the regret of late morning can catch me and try drowning me in carbohydrates.



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