Out of the corner of my eye I caught the reflection of my manic self, stretched and distorted by the curve of the glass in the china closet door like those mirrors in the Fun House at the carnival.
The repetitions made me notice. The rhythmic and repeated patterns of a bird flying in circles.
A mourning dove tracing the patterns of predecessors round and round the round silo top.
“It’s okay.” I told myself aloud. As if there were some calamity or crisis, some disruption or disturbance requiring response and reassessment.
The listing begins immediately of the ordinary, if sometimes overboard execution of the everyday.
Dishes, dusting, vacuum, break. Water plants, water dog, water man, break. Mow, trim, landscape, feed the cat, break.
Swiss cheese memory and post-traumatic stress and innocent instabilities conspire with an aging mind twenty-four hours high and most of them awake.
“What am I forgetting?”
The listing begins anew. Pay the insurance bill, pay the light bill, break.
Like Morse code the messages dot and dash faster and faster across my mind.
SK SK SK
It won’t stop.
G O O D N I G H T S I R SK SK SK
Flames a constant distraction I am compelled to stop and stare, pass my fingers through the ruby plumes, marvel at the vapors curling the air in once-in-a-lifetime moments, and other deep dives into the cosmos within my home and my head.
I am spinning but I am not dizzy.
Perhaps I’m riding the carousel, or maybe I am gracefully stepping through a Viennese waltz in three-four time. The signature doesn’t fit with the four-four pace at which I am moving. Perhaps the Tilt-A-Whirl would be a more apt description. Turning always, circles within circles, sometimes calm and slow and sometimes fast and impelled by inertia and centrifugally slammed against the wall, all the time grinning with glee and laughing out loud.
A grownup calls from the fairway with one of those typical grownup outlooks. Nagging negative things about needing to go and there are only so many tickets and where is your sister and the fair is closing soon. I must shut down the calliope and the search lights. It must be time for something. Time to go home. To go to supper. To go to bed. To go. To do. The fair is closing. There’s only so much time.
Sun has set and fog prevails and from within the mist I see myself up on the Ferris wheel and climbing down the structure like Spiderman. “To Go! To Do!”
I race myself to the gate as it is closing to see what’s the rush.
The crowd presses close and shoves its rude self against the spindly legs of clowns on stilts holding their curious tiny wives “Just tuhwenty-nine inches tall-uh. Step right up!” and the barker is just now pulling the shade at the ticket office.
I lost Me in the crowd, and now I am home and dry in the parlor of my own beloved and vast Victorian Ark, my footfalls leading me to the kitchen.
That is where I last saw Old Me.
I can’t fully remember him now, like a childhood friend or old Army buddy, I know there were things I liked about him but time has eroded my memories and I’m having some difficulty recalling just what those things were.
I gather up the essential elements that would inspire and infuse life into Old Me again, like Dr. Frankenstein only unto myself like some kind of antonym of suicide.
The paper. The pen. The coffee.
A chair to sit. A light to see. Glasses.
I hear him rustling the hostas outside the north window. I hear him stalking through the back room between the freezer and the recyclables and the thousand-year-old relics of former lifetimes.
I didn’t see him sneak in.
Without warning or will my pen is alive and drives itself across the blank page, rapidly replicating that which as thought races at the speed of neurons around the inside of my skull like a bullet tracing circles in a barrel.
There he is! I saw him!
Just for a momentary manifestation, a vaporous and veiled visitor vexes my vision.
The spell is broken by the dog and the cat and the cottonwoods and the wind and the unwanted and unwarranted waking from this suspended reality.
I return to the chair only to find him sitting in it! He has possessed me like a demon!
No. Wait. Seemingly, he has been right here all along.
Waiting for Me.
We had a good laugh at this for a few beautiful minutes out of this waning day. We wondered very briefly if we were schizophrenic, but quickly reasoned we wouldn’t know the difference so how could we tell?
Rendering the question moot, we poured more coffee. As sunset approached, we retired to the parlor, to sit still and admire the gleaming china closet.