Bent Words

Bent Words

April 06, 2008

Today the ‘rents returned. I rushed to bring their house to order. I laboriously vacuumed the lady bugs from the windows facing the lake and from the floors and walls with a hand held vac until my arm could vac no more (quite literally). I hastily cut and poorly arranged the flowers I had purchased (daffodils, her favorite, along with something white) with shaking hands. I attached one of the leftover flowers to the mailbox and was just about to release the deck chairs from their dusty prison under the house when I heard the signature honk from my father’s Schruck – finally they were home.

I raced up the hill to meet them, quite entirely out of breath once I reached the top, eager with hugs and smiles and ‘thank Gods’ as they made it home in one piece.

The world once again restored to its near sincere semblance of normalcy.


My father and I paused on the steps during our second round of unpacking the truck. He stood a few feet down from me, his heels just barely cast out over a set of three steps, and as he explained to me the pains of driving through Chicago, I could not help but picture him tumbling backwards, down the steps, crumbling over the small rocks which decorated the area, breaking his neck along the way. The warning I wanted to give him was caught for a full five minutes on the tip of my tongue; the worry that crept upward within my gut was only slightly restrained; the vision I had was increasing with vivacity – but I said nothing. I merely moved forward, as though disinterested, hoping he would follow suit and replace his person to a safer position.

This seems to happen to me a lot.

During my recent week in Florida, my mother and I would often retire to the second floor balcony and, just before she headed off to bed, share a cigarette under the moonlight. She sat on one of the two folding chairs we had placed there. I tried to sit and relax on the other but soon found myself completely unable to breathe. What if the weight of the two of us would cause a compromise of the concrete? What if we were a bit too much for that balcony? So I always crept back inside, only my legs sticking surely out of the door, as I pretended to be calm and focused on her discourse. Really I was making stealthy plans as to how I would rescue her with every ounce of my strength in case the balcony should fail.

On Saturday the shop experienced its busiest day of the year. Walking from the parts counter to the front door, I had to carefully choose my path, weaving this way and that between customers and the helmets they held in their hands. It was a welcome sight and even more welcome that the clamber of new faces was the excited recognition of those who I’d not seen during the winter months. Those satisfied few with hearty handshakes and ready smiles, ex co-workers who specifically asked after me and a couple of people I recognized from the days when the old shop was in full bloom. It was as though we all shared a secret that only motorcycle enthusiasts could comprehend. And we all noticed it. How the warmth of the sun had awakened our slumbering smiles. It was exhilarating.
Still, something inside me just wasn’t quite right.

After a handshake turned hug, I could not stop myself from watching Paul, an old co-worker and friend, from riding away from the store. I was somehow so sure he was going to lowside right there in front of me in the parking lot, spoiling his spotless VFR which I had sold him only last spring. I could not shake the thought nor disguise the worry, gripping the ends of my shirt within my fists. I raced from the backend of the building to the front, waiting for him to pass by, knowing that he must somewhere in between, just out of sight, writhing in pain on the ground.

But no. There he was, gliding away as gracefully as he had come, safe and sound with a single cause for alarm.

So what is it? What is this new found fear that has risen within me? Why do I worry so? So much more than before. Certainly life has always been delicate but what of this absolute paranoia? And how do I turn it off?

Written at 10:06 p.m.