Still Standing

This week’s sleepless nights have been followed by tired days…which seem to demonstrate, as if the fact needs it, that I am old. Fatigue means that the neuromuscular wherewithal I counted on yesterday somehow isn’t here today. It means that in visiting the local grocer’s, at the checkout I fumble around for my money. This takes long enough for one of the clerks to offer to help. And not just ‘help’ with any old thing, but assist this old thing with handling his cash. Indicative, I say.

Yes, I am noticing it more and more. May I help you, sir? Do you need some help with that? Here, let me. Things are getting harder and slower. And it is harder than ever to admit.

And yet admitting it is the secret to everything. Or is it better to find escape? In the sun, the October sun of San Francisco’s last, and successful, attempt at summer. I spent a good 90 minutes this afternoon doing just that. And those minutes were good. Arriving home in the late afternoon, I rolled out to the deck and cranked my wheelchair into its full supine possibility. Friday’s New York Times drifted in and out of focus. I tried not to think too much about the latter. Which is another sign of growing old.

Today, my adult education course on the economics and sociology of world cities…both fascinated and depressed me. We have been taking a merciless look at the history of race in America, particularly the economic history. And I’ve been part of this history. Maybe that’s why it feels fatiguing. So, there’s no denying this either. I was shot by black kids 50 years ago…then robbed by black kids 50 days ago.

Have I learned anything in the course of half a century that alters my perspective? The kids who robbed me a couple of months ago managed to scare me quite thoroughly. My fear seems inordinate. Although it is easy to trace its roots. Still, if I keep going out and about in this city, I do expose myself to danger. And maybe I should give myself credit. In this sense, I do ‘stand my ground’ – and this just occurred to me. Words do mean something, after all. And there’s no reason why ‘standing your ground’ has to be appropriated by the more violent of our gun-crazed citizenry.

And despite it all, this ground I am standing isn’t mine. We are standing our ground when we wander about cities. We are standing for the right to be among each other. Which is, one notes, something to stand for.

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