Thursday, July 19, 2007

Not Alone

Tonight I went to a small neighborhood cafe for dinner. With me I took my journal, a book of Japanese fiction, all of my cares and worries about life, a bad attitude about my boss, dark circles under my eyes, thoughts about my day, a mental to-do list for tomorrow, a great pair of Sam & Libby flats, and a faded tattoo.

I ordered - ready? - chicken with brie and cooked apples in a raspberry sauce on a bed of rice pilaf with green beans. Yes. And a Chilean Cabernet reserve with Death by Chocolate cake for dessert. Yes. I did. And just to make sure I was in heaven, Frank Sinatra was playing in the background.

The place was full of blue-hairs and it wasn't long before another Party of One, an older woman, came to sit at the table next to me. She commented on my meal and we spent quite a bit of time talking about our lives. She was on her way to see SiCKO at the theater next door after dinner, and invited me to come. I wanted to, but explained that I had a full evening of lying around that I had to hurry home for. She understood. It was nice to connect with someone interesting and genuine. The waiter overheard our discussion about the movie and said, "I guess you have to take it with a grain of salt." I smiled. She didn't. Completely disgusted, she looked at him and said quite forcefully, "I don't like salt." I wonder at what specific age you get to say whatever the hell you want. I can't wait. What a great evening.

Last week I was driving home from work and an older woman (early 70's?) in the car next to me was sobbing as if her heart had just broken completely in two. She was alone in the car, and kept moving like she was in pain, curling her head down so the top of it was pressed up against the window. She looked to be crying the cry where your mouth is open, but nothing is coming out yet. It was so candid and honest, I felt naked just watching her. I drilled my eyeballs into the side of her head hoping I could will her to look my way. (I'm not sure why.) She didn't, and I've been thinking of her.

Watching her experience real life reminded me of a time in Japan when I was headed from Hiroshima (home) to Tokyo for a weekend getaway, and just hours before my plane left I received terrible, tragic news. I decided to go to Tokyo anyway, how and why I'm not sure, I think because I couldn't bear to be in the same house in which I had just received the news; it was somehow tainted and I had to get out of it immediately. I made the entire trip in complete shock. I was a zombie. I cried more than I have, I think, at any other time in my life, and discovered that you can actually give yourself literal black eyes from continual crying. I would cry at night until exhaustion would overtake me, and in the morning I was somehow already crying when I would wake up. This is what I mean: the sounds of me crying woke me up. For four days I cried without stopping; tears leaked out of my eyes every minute - walking around town, ordering food in a restaurant, watching a concert. In Japan, we don't express emotion, so people were reacting to me, but I wasn't lucid enough to really register anyone else's experience of my actions. I do remember thinking, this is just me. There's no one else I can show you today.

Sometimes you just decide to put it out there.


  1. Wow. I just want to say something, but I'm not sure what. *sigh*

  2. Me, too, wow. That's a beautiful, remarkable revelation.

  3. I think I'm getting to that age...quickly!....where you say what you want. I'm tired of putting up with things that are wrong and condoning bad behavior. Someone has to stick up for things that are good and be against things that are not so good. I love these moments where people connect....the dinnertime table conversation, the woman crying....we so seldom allow ourselves to do that anymore.

  4. i love that. yeah, sometimes you DO just have to put it out there.

    your dinner sounds delicious - what a great evening!

    that is one perk of being old. i'm quite looking forward to it.

  5. This post is pretty awesome. I love that she asked you to join her for the movie.

    Great captured moments. Really beautiful, wrenching, alive.

  6. Wow ......just WOW....... oh and by the way it doesn't take an age to say whatever you want just an attitude. I think it comes when you are done playng the game. The game where you think you have to act like you care what other people say or how they react. I could be wrong.

  7. Yes, sometimes you do just have to put it out there.
    And scottk: here, here!

  8. Hmm, Interesting. I'm going to guess that I'm your oldest reader. Here's the thing about "sometimes you have to put it out there"...

    When you reach a place where you put it out there ALL the time...that's when you start to BE who you really are.

    I'll probably mis-quote it, but RuPaul said it best...we're all born naked; after that, it's all drag. I believe that as we age, we tend to cast off that which does not really suit us. If we're lucky, or very strong, or very stupid, we get back to being naked again.

    Well, we can try, anyway.

  9. Wow...that was a very touching post. I've been crying a lot lately but it's just leaking, not sobbing.

    As far as age goes, well I've already started farting in public. Why hold it in?