Back From Chattanooga

We drove down to Chattanooga Sunday afternoon/evening, and didn’t get too lost in town looking for the hotel.  It helps that we’ve been there a couple of times before.  After checking in, we walked across the street from the hotel to The City Cafe and overate.  Seventy-Six danced in his high-chair as he observed a group of teenagers dancing in line by the jukebox to a rap or hip-hop selection.  Somebody once explained to me the difference between rap and hip-hop, but the nicer distinctions were lost on me.  I guess as ‘music‘ it amuses at least the infant who inhabits our home.

First snapshot from one of our hotel room windows

First snapshot from one of our hotel room windows

I walked past that dome building on my way back to the cube-farm after lunch Monday

I walked past that dome building on my way back to the cube-farm after lunch Monday

Third snapshot from yet another of our hotel room's windows

Third snapshot from yet another of our hotel room's windows

That's The City Cafe down there mid-frame

That's The City Cafe down there mid-frame

Fifth view from one of the windows of our room

Fifth view from one of the windows of our room

Monday, my work activities fell out as scheduled, and parts of both reports are complete.  What a beautiful, warm, sunny, breezy day.

Surprisingly enough, I had time for lunch.  I don’t, usually, when I work away from the office.  I walked a few blocks down MLK to a an open plaza and ate a vegetable sandwich from Subway near and in line of sight with the shiny tall building that bears the big red “Krystal” logo.  For those of you who don’t know, Krystal is a fast food company that franchise-store sells a variety of small, square hamburger like unto a very bland White Castle hamburger.  Both types of burger are detestable, and it is an abomination to eat one.

The Subway in which I spent about four bucks for a sandwich (I forgot and left in the hotel room the lunch I’d prepared beforehand) was crowded at about 11:45 am Eastern Standard Time, which is how Chattanoogans reckon time.  Most of the those behind whom I stood in line, and those who stood in line behind me as I moved forward, looked overweight, ill-complected, unhealthy.  It was about five degrees Fahrenheit warmer in the sandwich shop than it was outside, and not well enough ventilated  to suit me.  A miasma of sweat stinking softly, bearing aloft spice molecules from poorly cooked dishes hastily consumed on some prior occasion arose from those around me mixed with the aroma of scented soaps, laundry detergent, sour breath, and the restaurant’s own bake oven, sandwich fixings, and cleaning solutions.  My fellow diners all wore garments that fit them badly in some particular.  I suppose I was no exception, although I felt better in my clothes than any of them looked to me.

I was glad to finally get my sandwich, get my cup of ice-water, and get out the door.  I ate in the fresh air sitting on a park bench.  I got a speck of yellow mustard on my blue oxford-cloth shirt no bigger than a tiny stitched polo player’s noggin.  While not beside myself, I was annoyed.

I walked back a different way to the soulless looking cube-farm on a hillside.  I say soulless-looking deliberately, even though my hyphenation is inconsistent, because some of those laboring within do seem to have souls.  Souls grown in or inhabiting a small urban setting in the American South.

I met a woman who wept.  Tall, graceful though many years stricken the result a choice that one-time made sense to her.  Beautiful in her way, and lonely.  I could not comfort her.

I thought of my own wife and my own son and the small child full of potential I once was on sunny, warm, breezy days like the one in which I then found myself.  I thought of choices that made sense to me, of choices that may make sense to me in the future.  I thought of my wife and of women, and how they begin life as babies, are loved; how they are little girls, and loved; how they are loved for their beauty, grace, and the light of their smiles as they mature; how some of them marry and are loved by their husbands.  I thought of those women who are alive only when they are loved, and I thought about what is left over when love is gone.

As you might imagine, I had trouble keeping my own emotion at arm’s length, which is where it assuredly belongs.

I thought about the course of our lives as humans on earth in time, and the when-where constant motion of our existence.

I cannot write more about my thoughts about my son and wife and the woman I met only that once and keep my own emotion out of electronic type.  It’s proper place is somewhere in my own life finding some expression with the two people I love most lived out here in our home.

Some days feeling is unavoidable.

Something awful we saw while walking to the riverfront Monday evening - horrible-looking tiny MB car

Something awful we saw while walking to the riverfront Monday evening - horrible-looking tiny MB car

Monday evening after I got back to the hotel, I ate four pieces of what I’d consider a relatively small pizza my wife had saved for me from her lunch.  She, our son, a friend of ours and two small children of her own, had lunch in another part of downtown Chattanooga while I was working or walking or eating.  After eating the cold pizza – with an alfredo, as opposed to tomato, topping, chicken, artichoke hearts, and spinach – we put the little boy in his stroller.  I listened to my wife talk.  Together we walked down to the riverfront where we ate ice-cream and frozen yogurt.   and walked back to the hotel as the earth moved and shadows lengthened.

Tower on the Children's Museum - I'd like to live in a house that has a tower like that one

Tower on the Children's Museum - I'd like to live in a house that has a tower like that one

We didn't, not here at least - Playtime-esque bistro sign near Aquarium

We didn't, not here at least - Playtime-esque bistro sign near Aquarium

windows

facade

broad-street

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Back From Chattanooga

  1. This is an amazing post, for a lot of reasons. I often think of the babies people were at their beginning. I think this a lot when I see the street people that congregate in my neighborhood – the insane man who screams obscenities at his demons all night but thanks me politely when I give him my aluminum.

    I think you and my husband could likely be great friends. You seem to see the world through very similar eyes and hearts.

    • Monday night after we’d all gone to bed we heard police sirens in the streets below, but because we were in a corner room with windows on three sides, I couldn’t pinpoint where the car was when the siren abruptly stopped. Shortly afterward, we heard a black woman screaming angry obscenities for what seemed like 10 minutes or so. Yes, she spoke, or rather shouted, in accented, patterned U.S. urban English that made at least her cultural identification a simple matter. Her noisome rage would subside for a couple of seconds, then with renewed intensity spew forth again. My wife said she kept expecting to hear the report of a gunshot next. I prayed for the woman. From the sound of her shouting, I guessed she was at street level, near or at The City Cafe, or in the parking garage across the street from both that all-night restaurant and the hotel in which we were staying.

      In my work, people tell me their life stories, and understanding them provides more satisfaction than most other outcomes associated with that work.

      Two of the women who work at the agency that employs me have poorly treated and managed mental health issues, and I do wonder what the hell happened to them as infants or children that they turned out the way they have. Maybe genetics? Early trauma? I don’t know. A couple of others, at whom I look for evidence of a soul or simple honesty (without finding either) seem to have no moral integrity or sense of purpose beyond sociopathic self-gratification, contributing nothing of value to the lives of those we are tasked with serving. I wonder what happened to them. Did their mamas believe the lives of daytime drama queen characters were real, or represented something for which to spend one’s life striving? If I had to guess, I’d say it was inability to be honest with themselves or any others that has really twisted them, deforming their characters and making them more cartoon than apparently human. I wonder what I can do to keep my little boy and any others with whom I have some influence from turning out thus.

      I’m not sure how some of the mentally ill wind up on the streets and others safely embedded in “helping profession” jobs. Places to hide?

      It’d be good to meet Paul. I’ve looked at his Myspace page, but I don’t understand Myspace. On the other hand, I’m looking forward to his podcasts. This weekend, I should be able to manage the clean system install on the MDD.

  2. You made me laugh: “I’m not sure how some of the mentally ill wind up on the streets and others safely embedded in “helping profession” jobs. Places to hide?”

    Maybe it’s because they know the lingo it’s easier for them to get the job. I’ve noticed that people who’ve had a lot of trouble with the law often make extensive use of cop and lawyer jargon.

    Have you seen Paul’s blog? He has a livejournal and just started a blogger. You can link to them from my blog I think. The livejournal it called Dispatches from the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The blogger is called Disjecta Membra. He has a facebook too. I don’t have a myspace or facebook, so I never see his.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s