It’s a little colder out here than weather.com broadcast. Which is weird. It’s almost always warmer than that bland black number in its matter of fact white box. Perhaps because we’re a bit more inland from downtown, where GoogleMaps has scrawled the word “Boston” on that pretty little finger of land.
Ooo, that wind went straight into my sinuses. I feel it behind my cheek bones. I wonder how much wind noise my phone is picking up?
Is it even picking up what I’m saying?
Looks like it’s recording.
And I look a little bit crazy. Not totally crazy. Where there’s an earbud, there’s the distinct possibility of an additional conversant. The problem is when you’re the only one listening. And responding.
Like our good friend on the corner. We’ll see if he’s out today, shortly. It’s chilly, but not terribly cold. I’ve seen him sitting there on colder days than this. I’m not sure where he goes when it’s frigid. I know there’s that new shelter, but I’ve heard a lot of these guys don’t feel safe there.
Guys. You know, I’ve only ever seen one girl living out here. Late 50’s, half bleached late 80’s hair. I think she may have had Parkinson’s disease. She was just out here for one summer. I just can’t imagine, I can’t fathom how difficult it is to one, be homeless, and two, be homeless and female. I don’t know the statistics on that, don’t know the gender differential or if there’s any disparity in resource access or utilization by gender. God bless the people who do know. The homeless need a super PAC.
Yep, he’s out. Got his Dunkin’ coffee. Got his knapsack. Got his imaginary friend to mutter to. I’ve never seen that scarf before. Nice green scarf, looks very festive with his customary red striped rugby shirt. And with that golden maple above him, the oak leaves wreathing the granite platform around him in graying apricot. God, it really could be a lovely scene. He’s sitting on his hoodie, the cement must be freezing. I guess it did get down into the low 30s last night. I wonder how he slept.
I’m ashamed to say I slept badly. In my warm full bed. With my powder blue down comforter. On that squishy soft pillow top. Swaddled in a snug marriage jigsaw with my cuddlesome husband. I lay quiet while loud thoughts and echoing dreams bounced off my skull, replaying past events, imagining future episodes. From my fluffy repose I sharpened my math skills, calculating just how many hours I could get if I could just fall asleep now….now…or now.
I’m really good at the ‘how much sleep could the sleeper get if the sleeper could get sleep’ game. I played it all through the basic science years of med school, through the grad school in between, and then just kept at it during the clinical years of med school. I certainly couldn’t stop for residency. Such a gas.
Oh, the sun is coming out! The sky over Back Bay is gray cotton candy today, with more wet spun weather forecast for later, but that pale golden orb has just taken a big bite. I love the scattered sunlight of a cool fall day. Especially on the Commons, around lunch time. People walking, their garb and pace displaying the stark contrast between tourist and towny, the working weary catching gossip and a quick bite on a park bench, stay at homes cooing at lovely pudgy babies, laughing at sing-song toddlers, relaxing in that uber-aware way of the careful parent, pseudo-aloof college students in awkward, pseudo-deep conversations between class, all while cars jockey and chime at the edges, hemmed in by the homely brownstones.
It’s not lunch time right now. There aren’t a lot of people to enjoy it out here on the Commons this early. There’s a cool dude in combat boots taking pictures with an old Nikon. Word. There’s a very well dressed momma with her spendy baby buggy heading toward Newbury street. Love that plaid jacket. Damn, how do people walk in heels like that?! I did not get that gene. Or it was silenced? There’s a dog walker. Waaaaa, it’s a dachshund! Oh my gosh, those little squared shoulders, those scrabbling short legs! So cute! Waaaaant. And there’s a poodle, a labradoodle, a retriever, a frenchie. The frenchie is wearing a red sweater and matching booties. Booties. He’s picking his feet up like he’s had the poor luck to plunge all four paws in gum. I bet the other dogs are judging him.
This whole thing – this little recorded stream of consciousness while I walk, which I’ll dutifully type later tonight – seems almost wicked. My little secret. Though I suppose it’s like all of my writing. Scribbled and typed in guilty, counterfeit nonchalant semi-secret. I’ve always loved to write. I penned little stories and journals throughout early childhood – silly things and serious things and personal things, second hand paperback thesaurus and dictionary from Half Price Books in the top drawer of my particle wood desk. These were tolerated, only warily celebrated at home, especially as I snuck in extra English classes, learning about the literary styles of the classics and developing my own in late high school. It was made perfectly clear that this was not an acceptable area of concentrated study, certainly NOT a career choice. Maybe a hobby. Maybe. But – doctor, or lawyer – those are stable jobs, the worthwhile ones. Those are the future. Your future, for the reserved, ambitious, bright girl who ‘got’ things quickly and had a knack for memorizing and enjoyed possibilities.
That old dude is looking at me weird. Even his poodle is looking at me weird. Clearly they can tell I’m talking to myself, sort of. I’ll just be silent and intent for a while, I’ll adjust this earbud like I’m listening to someone else.
Okay, they’re playing fetch.
I certainly cannot deny that I really (really) like science and medicine. Truly I do. The double major in microbiology and chemistry at a big state school? So amazing. Worth it. The MD and the PhD work in molecular genetics, the Ivy League residency? Exhausting, but so invigorating. A long, seamless experience, an ordeal which I lived, loved, and wrote, in intense non-fiction pieces. Worth it. Yet when I think of my ideal life – the one no one really has, if we are honest to the core – I’m not doing science. I’m not practicing medicine. I’m writing. I’m writing short stories and novellas, fiction and loose nonfiction. I’m writing my truth from the comfortable anonymity of a classy, clever pen name, in beautiful old libraries and at my home desk, chewing and swallowing and regurgitating and sweating it all out. I’m not famous, but I’m comfortable, and I’m doing the thing I love best, that excites and frustrates and precipitates me in ways I can scarcely express.
But I’ll never have that life. Never ever. Not even a version of it. The idea of productivity, the right kind of productivity, has been so driven into me that I will work in the accepted, respected fields I like until I can’t work anymore, can’t work at all. And I will never really work or be fulfilled in the field I love. I’ll never have time to finish and submit because I’m too busy being finished and submissive to the all-encompassing ‘prestigious’ fields to which I’ve been directed. Because I’m a coward. Plus, student loans, right?
Holy smokes. That was deep. Too deep for this walk.
But then, after you’ve marveled at the scenery, and gotten over the rub in your shoes, and remarked on your companions in stroll, what else are you left to consider on a blustery, sunny fall day? Where else do you go but deep inside, to your deepest wants, your deepest fears, your deepest truths?
I should probably turn this off and start running now, or things might get too heavy.
Also, that poodle is still looking at me weird.
Walked and written for #WWWP5K. More on that here.