Monday, December 19, 2011

Lamps in the fog, oracle in the window

Three days from solstice I walked in the dark through Laurelhurst Park.  The cold had a bite to it.  Darkness rushed to its fell revelry.  Stalwart pathway lamps shone like the besieged heroes of a lost city.

I called my brother while I walked.  Brother Eric and I bemoaned our various physical infirmities, now that the bloom has come off our respective roses.  We've had more than one talk on this subject in recent years.  Time passes so quickly. 

Walking home along Hawthorne Boulevard, I experienced a --well, I don't know what to call it.

As I passed my favorite coffee bar, I glanced in and caught a glimpse of a barista I know.  A man in his early thirties.  He was standing behind the counter.  He's a tall fellow and easy to spot.  Dark hair cut short and close, and a distinctive handlebar mustache.  His face was lifted toward the ceiling, but his eyes were cast down his nose toward the person with whom he was speaking, a patron at the shop.

This image lasted no more than a second.  I did not break pace as I strode past the facade windows.  But in that instant I swear I saw my coffee-serving friend transmogrify.  His hairline receded to a point high on top of his head.  His chin became less pronounced, pulling back into his neck which grew thick and dark with stubble.  His shoulders slumped and his abdomen pushed out.  Creases grew from the corners of his eyes and mouth.

And then I had passed.

It was a puzzling thing.  Passing strange.  It seemed that the barista went from vital youth to humbled middle-age in a flash.

Of course, it wasn't possible.  But I had no inclination to double-back and lay the illusion to rest.  What if it wasn't an illusion?  What if I were to glimpse my own reflection in the divining glass? 

I do not care to see myself in the future.  There is no need.  I know what's coming and I'll get there soon enough anyway.

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