Sans Segue

Lilacs intoxicate me.

We had what seemed a forest of these when I was three...
deep purple & lavender, bright white & everything in between.
They still smell like Life to me.

There was a writer of some kind on NPR this morning,
wheezing on about the lilacs for what seemed like forever.

In all honesty, poetry & lilacs are two of my all-time favorite things,
but after three minutes of telling myself this was somehow poetry
(while miniature kittens played the needle-sharp claws game
on the chalkboard of my inner ear), I had to break out the headphones.

Bon Jovi's Runaway exploded, instantly synchronizing a million
yowling brain waves into a singular harmonious flow.
(Say what you like about Bon Jovi; they have brought into the world
a number of musical moments which, if one is willing to actually listen,
are likely to rock one's face off.)

The line in this track that slays me is--

No one heard a single word you said
They should have seen it in your eyes
What was going 'round your head...

And I'm reminded of friends-- and women in particular--
who grew up in homes with idealogical frameworks so stringent
that it took them decades to reach the outside world.

The three women I think of off the top of my head
are as bright, beautiful, creative and resilient as anyone
I've ever met. Moreso.

What takes some people through hell brighter than ever?

What buries others, and resigns millions to Thoreau's quiet desperation?

Real Gold Does Not Fear The Fire
titles Sifu Ray Hayward's biography of Grandmaster Wai Lun Choi,
suggesting the rest of the saying, only the impurities are burned away.

For the past couple of days I've been making the morning & afternoon deliveries
for the warehouse that supplies the University bookstores.
They're having a sidewalk sale on campus, and there's hundreds
of boxes of sweatshirts and pants and keychains we drop off in the morning
& pick back up in the afternoon.

Well today it started raining like a MF tsunami.

I could hear rain drumming on the warehouse skylights high above.
Ravenous, I put on my perennial hoodie/flannel jacket,
grabbed my bag & headed out to lunch.

One of the office ladies was blocking the doorway,
talking on her cellphone, watching it pour.

She didn't look up; just leaned there bullshitting
between me and lunch. This was insanity.

"Excuse me," I said.

"Oh," she said, stepping aside.

"Thank you," I said, pushing through the door.

A metallic ca chunka clack gave way to a rush of rain.

"You're going out in that?"

"Yep," I say, flipping up my hood, running down the stairs.

It looks and sounds like there's more water than air.
I begin to wonder which of my electronics might electrocute me
on the 15-foot walk to my car.

Inside the Monte, the door slams shut, cutting off the rain.
It's dry in here but I am wet. The lady had a point. I'm not dressed for this kind of rain.

The cellphone rings.

"K-- it's Cal," says my manager. "We need the truck out here-- it's pouring."

"Now?" I ask.

"Yes, now, please. Take Mike."

"Mike took off."

"He what?"

"He's on lunch," I said.

"He's in the lunch room," said Cal.

"Oh right," I say. "We'll be right there."

Mike was salty about losing the last five minutes
of his lunch break, & me, I'm thinking--
Shit is getting rained on, man-- the captain needs us!
Out loud I say, "I'll meet you out at the truck."

When he finally came out he was wearing a
yellow rain slicker, which is admittedly wayTF better
than the hoodie/flannel in rain, but by then the rain
had more or less given up.

So we bounced down the road in this loud ass diesel
monster of a delivery truck. This is my second day
driving; it's the biggest thing you can drive
without a CDL, and the MF gives me perma-grin.

So we bump the truck up over the curb (which is apparently
acceptable) & park on the sidewalk.
The rain has stopped. Out in front of the student center,
Cal and another manager survey the damage, draping back
crackling plastic sheeting off t-shirts & sweat-pants in various stages
of wet, cradled in soggy cardboard boxes.

We stand around contemplating whether to take down the sale
& load it up, or whether that blue patch over there is in fact
the end of the rain, in which case maybe the sun would
just dry everything out. To what degree were these items doomed
to stank of cardboard? Would they dry out in the truck overnight
or would that just seal the wetness in?

Only in academia. We're trying to get people on the phone.

Still, it's stopped raining, and students are once again browsing,
holding up the dampened University gear for a better look.

"Erin would know," I say.
Hell, she deals with every one of these products,
and picks up things like climbing & kayaking
for the simple pleasure of passing the knowledge &
experience on to others. She'd tell us what to do with
these soggy ass sweat pants in a NY minute.

This does not address Cal's fundamental question, which is more like,
"Why do we have all this wet & potentially ruined product on our hands,
and how do we prevent this from ever happening again?"

It must be pointed out here that Cal is the nicest possible guy.
He's a fair manager and an intellectual in the truest sense;
once a quandary of significance presents itself, the pursuit of its
absorbs his full attention.

Eventually the sun breaks through. Mike & I climb back up into the truck,
fire up the beast, then clunk clunk down off the curb, roaring out over the wet
& pot-holed pavement on our way back to the warehouse.

BTW Kaye I'm so glad you mentioned it
because Grandma asked me about crystal meth once too,
& I'd completely forgotten this.

I remember saying something to the effect of--
"Well, it's like cocaine, but it lasts a lot longer,
& people can basically make it in their bathtubs
instead of flying it all the way in from Colombia.
Plus it's super addictive and is decimating a lot
of rural areas."

I may have then gone into something re: friends who'd kicked meth
back in the summer of 95 in Monterey (there's an angel in that story,
but we'll come back to that one later), and somehow tied that to the
current meth epidemic.

And my folks are there listening, and there's this silence during which
I realize my explanation of crystal meth might have been too raw for the
family/third-ring suburban setting.

"Because I hear about it all the time on the news,"
says Grandma, "and me, I don't know the first thing about it.
I figure you kids get out more than I do," she says, laughing
with a wave to the world outside her patio door.