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Monday, December 24, 2012
The Man In The Window
In the face of bitter cold and deep snow, a rare "civilized" potty stop was made at Mc Donalds. While waiting on my tiny bladdered soulmate, I succumbed to the lure of an ad for oatmeal with real fruit, which, in reality, tasted like a nutritionally vapid and revolting concoction of wallpaper paste and sawdust... topped with raisins. Those food photos are misleading.
On the brink of Christmas we departed on a mad road-rush mission... enduring predawn darkness, deer in headlights, slick roads, sub-zero temps, multiple black-iced mountain passes and nearly seven hours behind the wheel... in order to be with "family." But we managed to slide into metro Denver safe and sound, just in the Saint Nick of time to recue son, Caleb, from bumper to bumper holiday chaos at DIA.
Ten minutes to noon, I was man-hugging a muscular six foot two thirty-something guy in the pick-up lane... the same guy I was reading fairy tales to only "yesterday." It was one of those moments where one swears they hear "the clock" ticking. I felt old, crumpled in the strong arms of youth. On the expressway drive to Golden I thought about aging, how time has a way of accelerating toward that moment approaching "terminal velocity," when the days of our lives take on a blur much like the pedals on Caleb's tricycle, when only "yesterday" he raced headlong down our driveway, feet on handlebars, oblivious to fear and tomorrow.
Being out of my natural, slow-paced, "element" in Lovely Ouray doesn't help... competing for a notch of freeway "turf" amongst urban crazies in the stressful waning rush hour lead-up to Christmas, "Blur," suddenly flips from metaphor to literal. All things "metro," happening at a pace that I was perfectly comfortable with "yesterday"... if not downright impatient. It was weird, feeling like I don't belong in the left lane anymore, weaving in and out with the Metrophiles. It took well over a mile for me to "multitask" four lanes to the right... signaling, checking mirrors, gesturing, conversing... all while keeping tract of my upcoming off ramp. I could have used a few c c's of youthful aggression and assertiveness.
Let's face it, I'm not equipped to step back into the "rat race." Lovely Ouray seems like a nursing home compared to Denver... and reminds me of the pen dribbles from a very wise man who long ago wrote, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again” (C. S. Louis). Something to look forward to, something to dread... all wrapped up for Christmas, with a nice little bow on it.
And now, Christmas Eve... in the six am quietness of alarm clock-less holiday... rubbing sleep from eyes and sipping coffee... an unthinkable one thousand piece jigsaw puzzle splayed out like confetti, a Christmas tree, swamped to it's under-branches with gifts. The pulse of life is momentarily sedated, so I use this quiet time to download photos to my laptop.
A random toss away shot at first glance, jumps out at second glance. My finger anxiously hovers over the "Delete" button, "Pull the trigger!" It's a boring photo of winter as seen through the reflection of a Mc Donald's window, the one where we potty-stopped. It seems truly lame, but my eye is drawn to a smaller picture within the picture. I crop away reflections of winter 2012 and zoom in on "winter" of another sort. Caught like a deer in headlights, was a metaphor for the last season of Life.
There's an old, old man in my "looking glass," frozen in time. I study his face, seeing his "winter" as it looks from my "fall." He has elder sized ears and nose. A Veteran's cap sits askew on his head and nearly touches eyebrows... an old solider with stories that will likely accompany him to the grave, lost forever, forgotten. I study his turn-downed turtle mouth... something of a frown. A glance in the rearview mirror reveals a similar mouth forming on my own face. Is it late fall? or early winter?
His hand and fingers appear supple, like a pianist or saxophone player, as he reaches for another french fry. He is in the middle of winter, in the middle of "winter." Whether it's one of discontent or resignation, I cannot tell. Is he a widower? Is he all alone... children too far away? Why aren't they here? Why is he sitting alone at Christmas time in a Mc Donalds? I feel a sadness welling... it's for him, yet in some way it's for me, too... the future me. I want to go fetch him... give him a hug like Caleb gave me... invite him to our family Christmas... smother him with attention... listen to his stories of growing up, the war, and how it is getting along in the "winter" of life.
I have neither grandparents nor parents to hug and wish Merry Christmas anymore. I swear to God, if I could find this man again, I would engage him... adopt him... hug him... love him.
All this from a photo I almost deleted.
Merry Christmas, everyone. In the spirit of this post, try to include or call someone who is alone and in the winter of their life this holiday season. Soon enough, there go we.
Mark and Bobbie