A vicious, wild storm. Coming down sideways, it was a thrashing I was certain would break the backdoor glass and flood the bedroom. My bed would turn into the island of retreat. It was currently no solace, as I’d flipped over and switched sides across the bed now twenty times, at least. I was keeping track; annoyed. I was very conscious. In between the flashes of lightening, there was a stillness. The ceiling fan had gone off. I’d lost power.
I reached out to the nightstand to flip the switch and sure enough, no light. The howling wind sounded like a tornado. Nature has this frightening way of putting the human in his place. We have no control. I grabbed my phone to call the energy company; to register my outage. Nature’s outrage.
How is it that I lucked out and reached a women’s voice? At this point I had taken the phone into the restroom, now seated and bellowing out. This may be a comedy of errors. Her voice was so faint and far away. I used one hand to cover my unencumbered ear, to muffle the beating the skylight above me was taking, to concentrate on her voice better. ‘Speak up,’ ‘louder,’ ‘I can’t hear,’ I say, while I’m sure she can hear the storm in the background. Her responses to me have moved further away. I could picture her down a long, faintly lit corridor, almost like the never-ending hallway of a hospital. The situation felt as consequential. I couldn’t holler into the phone any longer; and how long had I been sitting on the toilet? Hopefully my call registered the situation and power would be restored soon.
I made my way downstairs, moving slowly in the dark, holding onto the bannister -always conscious not to slip. I wanted a glass of chocolate milk. I saw myself squeeze the syrup into the glass of unsweetened almond milk; measurements precise. The infrequent piercings of lightening were all the light needed for this task. I stood at the counter half alive, eyes half open, and the preceding day registered. I pulled out a notepad from a utility drawer, one of many notepads scattered about the townhome; kept precisely for these moments of consequential insights and downloads of information. It was paramount I record what had transpired earlier.
I had taken a walk to the nearby park -the one I always frequent when the weather is glorious. My routine is to take at least ten loops around the path. No idea what this works out to in steps or distance. Neither here nor there. Never hurts to have a goal though. I made and returned phone calls during the walk, so I easily lost track. Halfway through, a guy about my own age appeared suddenly, sitting on one of the park benches. He looked as if he was wearing an entirely new outfit of black jeans, a sharp white t-shirt and very reflective, Ray-ban aviators. He was reading a book. I passed by him a few times before he spoke out to me. This is why I found myself trying to remember. My thoughts were lost in the wind at the time. On the next loop around, right as I was coming towards him, I dropped my phone. I really almost had it caught before it landed. In one fell swoop down, I snatched it up without missing a beat. He called out this second time more loudly, ‘Wow, you barely stopped and you didn’t even cuss!’ I missed this last bit. I stopped and half turned back towards him, ‘What was that?’ ‘You didn’t even cuss,’ he said. I kind of chuckled, ‘Well, I guess the loops begin to make one calm.’ Thinking yes, most walks can be meditative. He stared out blankly, curious, before looking back down at his book. I began to think how loops in music, too, become a low monotonous hum. Getting into the rhythm. I’ve always rolled my keyring between my fingers as I take these walks, and this also happens to remind me of the beads rolled between the fingers of the chanters at the Hare Krishna temple. These rhythms overlay the ritual.
Now standing in the kitchen, hearing the pounding rain, I remember the park guy again. I see him sitting on the bench and this same rain is pouring just as hard on him. His hair flattens down around his forehead and his sunglasses go from glimmer to matte. Then from the top of his head, he begins to melt and fold down like a candlestick burning. His t-shirt bleeds into his jeans and he slowly becomes a puddle on the concrete, until the rain washes him away entirely. I am standing on the periphery of the park, out on the street. I watch as he dissolves before my eyes. My only concern is why I hadn’t asked him what he was reading? I chastise myself over this missed opportunity, knowing I will never walk by him again.
I made myself stay in bed till late morning. The night had been exhausting, and I wanted the power to have been restored with no inconvenience by the time I made coffee. As I rolled over towards the nightstand, I had the immediate sensation that I had never lost power. I grabbed my phone to search the call log. I hadn’t dialed Cirro Energy either. In the kitchen there was no empty glass in the sink, and the notepad now sitting on the counter had no story written down. I had gone on that walk, though. I had conversed with the stranger. There had been a storm. All else seemed to be my sleep-deprived delirium.