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.
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.
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.