Missing in Action

I’m going to miss this. The thought occurs to me on the way out of Trader Joe’s, and it comes as a sort of reward, even a counter, to the morning’s doubts and recriminations. Thing is, I wanted out from the day’s get-go. An imperfect night’s sleep, the alarm going off right in the middle of some profound dream. Then Jane going off to work, leaving me with myself in my apartment. Somehow, too much, on this particular morning. So out, out damned self. But where?

Well, on errands, of course. Caffeination being among them. The bank where “they” know me well enough to seize a handful of checks from various sources and simply cash them. And, FYI, the “they” is actually named Armando. Trader Joe’s for the week’s flowers. I always buy them, brightening things as they do. My housekeeper being a leader in the floral arrangement field.

Of course, what is there to get the day going at Trader Joe’s but a frozen cod filet, freshly cooked, sliced into sample size, and served with a little 9:15 AM tartar sauce? Which I thoroughly enjoy, it must be said, while the guy serving the day’s free samples asks me about my move. Move? How did word get out about Jane and me buying a house? Oh, yes, I did exchange a bit of gossip with one of the store’s employees, and word spread like, you know, gossip.

The guy at the taster counter reminds me of his move. To the very center of San Jose. Whose center is arguable, but what isn’t arguable is this young man’s intent. Inner urban pioneering. He is big in the San Jose arts scene, he tells me. And what he is really telling me is…aside from the fact that there is a San Jose arts scene…that he wants me to know. He also wants me to try his frozen cod with cocktail sauce, the red kind. Thanks, I say, another time. What about his website? When is it going up? How I remember this myself, well, that is pleasantly part of my story. Maybe we artsy aspirants sniff each other out.

Not to mention handing out the occasional book. At checkout, naturally. There, it is more of the same. The clerk looks downright Rastafarian but sounds like he frequents the Amherst faculty lounge. He scans my meager purchases, simultaneously explaining poetry slam culture. Which in these industrial parts must be pretty meager. But what do I know? Turns out he has read my book. Or part of it. For which I thank him profusely. How did he get a copy? Well, I gave one to his colleague, the Nepalese guy I often chat to. I promise to bring this checker his own copy. Why not? I have several cartons of them. Thus, the first time author. Maybe the only time author.

Nevermind, for I am having a good time, a soul-lifting experience here in central Menlo Park. And it’s way too early to miss anything, which is to miss the point. First, that readying my future domicile for wheelchair use will take ages. Second, that missing people is missing the point. Which is that to be wrenched to early from childhood connections that were too weak is to miss, or to mourn, forever. To miss the point that I may never make it to San Francisco. That there is this, and it’s now. One of life’s hard, and surprisingly recent, lessons.

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