Sunday, January 26, 2020

Meditation 18


I hadn’t seen him in a while, the gray-haired white man who walks the one-eyed dog named Rosie, sometimes yells at traffic to stop. He’d yelled at me, too, about Hillary, about lazy millennials, about the university, about how people just don’t look out for each other any more, about people who drive through stop signs. A radical centrist, he called himself. For months after, I talked about his dog and mine, the weather, anything neutral (weather over climate, I’m sure). The last time we’d met, just past the new year, he’d yelled at me about “rag heads,” and I called him a racist. Turned on my heel. Today, as I came up Hui Kelu with Lilith, I saw him and Rosie ahead of us. He saw us. At his turn-around point, he crossed the road, started back toward his townhouse on the next street over. He had sunglasses on, wrap-arounds. I said, “good morning!” but he kept going. His body clenched tight: arms out from his sides, legs moving like pegs. The only softness to him might be his belly. He’s my lesson, but it’s a lesson I cannot learn. Perhaps he’s happy in his horrible opinions, a friend opines, but I don’t believe it. He’s how pain turns to Fascism; he’s how hurt accumulates grudges; he’s how you come to hate a woman neighbor who wears an Obama shirt, so clearly a “snowflake,” even in paradise. He’s how you don’t avoid your pain, but alchemize it into anger. It’s more valuable that way. He’s how you take someone aside, abuse her, and then call her indecent. He’s how the mirror works. The man who yells at traffic sees me on his mirror, but not as myself. This confuses me, like the times my demented mother transposed herself with me. So accustomed to seeing myself in the mirror, I saw the image of someone I didn’t want to know.

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